THE PRICE GUIDE TO THE OCCULT, by Leslye Walton, Candlewick Press


From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

Out March 13, 2018


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Can we just admire this cover for a moment!?? It’s stunning!

So, we have a girl (witch) who wants nothing more than to fit in to “a regular” person’s life, with as little ‘excitement’ as possible so that she can blend in to the background and not stand out.  She wants a boyfriend and a ‘normal’ life.  She also has an insufferable mother who is determined that she not reach any of those goals.

Fitting in, blending in and being ‘plain.’  Okay…

“The Price Guide to the Occult” is the second book of Leslye Walton who made her debut and instant fame from her first book, “The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.”  That book was remarkable and noteworthy because of her writing style, which was utterly lyrical and beautiful.

This book is not the same. I give the author a lot of credit for keeping the two different.  This shows a huge amount of talent. I think that this book also shows that a lot of editing could have been involved because it’s more “slotted” than the first.  What I mean by this is that it fits the requirements of a YA fiction novel just a bit too perfectly.  It has all the cards: an older teen, girl wanting to fit in, conflict surrounding her mother, girl wanting normal boy, possible love triangle forming, no real love scenes…. blah, blah, blah, just like all the rest. Instead of striving to ‘fit’ in with all the other YA books out there, it would have been nice to see the author’s unique writing style again.  A bit ironic considering the premise of the book.

I’m not entirely sure the lovers of her first book will like this one equally, but, if you go in to it knowing not to expect the same, you will enjoy this book too. The book is enjoyable, it’s written well and I enjoyed it.  On the flip side, for those who didn’t appreciate the writing style of the first book being too whimsy and fluffy, this book may be a better fit, minus the rest. You’ll encounter paranormal elements, magic and teenager angst (maybe a bit too much?), and family issues.

There are subject matters that may not sit well with others, such as cutting and suicide, but like I said, it’s ‘slotted’ well.  I think some parts dragged while others were rushed too much. Character development was not bad.  Plot was good; it kept me invested in the story.  I think I’ll wait to see what this author does next before deciding whether to continue reading work by this author.

I gave this book:




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