August hasn’t been back to the island of Saoirse since he left with his mother after he was accused of killing one of his classmates right after graduation. His mother is dead now, and her last request was to bury her ashes on the island. But when August arrives back in Saoirse, the island’s secrets start to emerge, leaving him embroiled in even more danger than when he left.
TW: child abuse, physical violence/assault
That’s a pitiful description, but honestly, the official blurb invested way too much into this book. It sounded so interesting, the premise was so good, and then it was a lot of setup for no real payoff. The magic and curses and folklore? Could’ve been cut altogether without really changing the story. Felt more like old wives’ tales that had no substance in them for 99% of the book. The murder mystery? Dull. Character development? There were like three (I think?) old ladies in this book and I have no idea which is which after an entire 12 hours with them, and they’re important to the story. The love story part? Straight out of YA angst with a thin layer of literary shine on it. (Especially after August shows himself to be a carelessly violent person just like his whole family line before him. We’re supposed to cheer for this guy? I’m so tired of toxic masculinity being praised because sometimes the guy is sensitive. Assault is assault, and if you can’t control your temper, I’m done with you.) It was just…not worth it. Disappointing. My first disappointing read of the year.
Honestly, I almost quit reading when there was less than two hours left on the audiobook. I’d already past the point where August is an asshole and somehow no one cares, and the climax wasn’t going anywhere. There’s this weird urgency to Emery’s discoveries – Emery is the love interest and other main narrator – as if something is going to happen right then, as if suddenly the one bit of maybe-magic is going to mean something, and then it didn’t, and we skipped to an epilogue? Or something? I don’t know. The whole thing just didn’t work for me. (Especially the chapter told from the point of view of the island itself.)
Performance: I originally got this book from BotM, but because I was feeling more like audio, I also grabbed that version from my library. I didn’t realize that it was read by nine different people! I’m not generally a fan of audiobooks that have so many narrators that I have to categorize them under the “multiple readers” header, and I can’t really review it because some were good performances, some weren’t, and I don’t know who was who. For the record, the nine narrators were: Emily Rankin, Dan Bittner, Mark Deakins, Kimberly Farr, Ari Fliakos, Dawn Harvey, Carrington MacDuffie, Kirsten Potter, and Oliver Wyman.