October 28, 2020

#BookReview: The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

Synopsis: 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.


Rating: ⭐
My Review: I am beyond sad right now.  I grabbed this book forever ago because I fell hard for the cover.  I even waited for a few visits to the bookstore because I hate buying books before I either A. get a review copy or B. borrow it from the library because well books are expensive.  Well I gave in to the beauty that is this cover and brought it.  Well now that lust for this packaging died a horrible death today.  2 years after buying this beautiful cover with sprayed pages I had to say goodbye and DNF this one.  

This book starts off with a 16 page prologue which was freaking amazing!!! I read it in about 3 minutes if even that and wanted to start the actual book but it was time for bed.  So I waited until the next day to dive in.  As soon as I started the core story I was drawn in.  However, by page 30 or so I felt like I was in a snooze fest and just had to put it down.  So I went and ate lunch and did some posting on social media and came back to it.  I tried for another few pages after posting that I had decided to DNF this one because I wanted to love it so much!! But sadly it just didn't work out.  

Why you ask? Well this story is well over done. It was left to long in the oven and the story was so bogged down with things.  The best way that I could think of explaining it would be to say it was over written.  So ado sweet book that I will never be able to love.  

Now I will go cry in a puddle of sadness. 

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up—Sixteen-year-old Nor Blackburn is just trying to stay under the radar and keep her growing magical abilities under wraps. Nor is the descendant of Rona Blackburn, a powerful witch who helped found the island of Anathema before cursing its inhabitants when they turned on her. Unbeknownst to Nor's loving support network—including her formidable grandmother, exuberant best friend, and the proprietor of the local magic shop—she understands the languages of animals and plants. And though each Blackburn woman is not supposed to have more than a single supernatural power, Nor's own supernatural skills seem to be rapidly expanding. She's also dealing with the lingering trauma of physical and psychological abuse suffered at the hands of her powerful and evil mother, Fern. She copes, in part, by engaging in self-harm; readers observe Nor's ever-present struggle to resist her self-destructive impulses and maintain a safe space for herself. When Fern resurfaces after a long absence, Nor's courage—and her newfound abilities—are put to the test. As in her 2014 debut, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Walton's writing is atmospheric and ethereal. Anathema Island, with its foggy shores, rich diversity of flora and fauna, and quirky tourist shops, comes to vivid life. The pacing slows considerably at the midpoint and some of the secondary characters are thinly sketched. Nor's wicked and violent sociopath mother is memorable and her scenes are truly chilling. VERDICT Though perhaps not as epic or romantic as her first novel, Walton's sophomore effort is haunting and, especially in the last act, thrilling. Some unresolved subplots hint at a sequel.—Kiera Parrott, School Library Journal


Walton follows The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender with a lyrical and robust multigenerational story set on the fictional Anathema Island in the Pacific Northwest...In succinct, evocative sentences, Walton paints vivid scenes while maintaining a gripping plot. Addressing abandonment, self-harm, first love, and other topics, Walton weaves a rewardingly complex tale that brims with suspense and romance.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Walton conjures a rich sense of place in her sophomore novel, and the backstory of the Blackburn women is undeniably fascinating. Additionally, she does an excellent job handling the topic of Nor’s self-harm: Nor’s already sought treatment by the time her story begins, and though her compulsive thoughts and anxiety are still there, she’s learned how to manage those thoughts in a healthy way...the eerie atmosphere, lyrical language, and romance subplot will still entrance many.

As in her 2014 debut, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Walton’s writing is atmospheric and ethereal. Anathema Island, with its foggy shores, rich diversity of flora and fauna, and quirky tourist shops, comes to vivid life...Nor’s wicked and violent sociopath mother is memorable and her scenes are truly chilling...Walton’s sophomore effort is haunting and, especially in the last act, thrilling.
—School Library Journal

An atmospheric, blood-drenched dark fantasy for a cold and stormy night.
—Kirkus Reviews

Walton’s (The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender) horror tale features a vivid setting, lyrical prose, and engaging characters; Nor’s formidable pipe-smoking grandmother Judd, her best friend Savvy (a “punk rock Pollyanna…with big brown eyes, ocher-brown skin, and wildly colored hair”), and her love interest Reed Oliveira provide comfort and care to a protagonist whose mother is hell-bent on murdering her.
—The Horn Book

Like in The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton's story is lyrical and atmospheric, and you'll find yourself getting lost on Anathema Island.
—Bustle (blog)

Gripping and dark, this bewitching family drama will have you reading to midnight!
—The Kids’ Next List newsletter

The Price Guide to the Occult is a classic page-turner...Dark fantasy fans take note, Leslye Walton has a story here that you will not want to miss.
—Locus Online

About the Author

Leslye Walton was named a William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist for the publication of her debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Born in the Pacific Northwest, she has an MA in writing. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

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FTC Guidelines: In accordance with FTC guidelines regarding endorsements and testimonials for bloggers, I would like my readers to know that many of the books I review are provided to me for free by the publisher or author of the book in exchange for an honest review. If am compensated for any reviews on this site I will state that post has been sponsored. 


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