Despite physical and emotional scars, a teenage witch must find the strength to stand against her villainous mother.
When the famed witch Rona Blackburn took vengeance against the men of Anathema Island, she also cursed her descendants to heartbreak, diminished magic, and an intrinsic bond to that remote northwestern locale. Now, ninth-generation Blackburn daughter Nor wants only to reach her 17th birthday leaving “the slightest mark humanly possible on the world.” But once her viciously charismatic mother, Fern, starts peddling toxic spells, Nor may have to invoke all the powers of her terrifying heritage. After a rousing historical prologue, the pace slows to portray the isolated, quirky, closely knit community, diverse in age, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexuality. Subsequently, straight white Nor’s character arc drives the narrative: years of abuse have left her so desperately afraid of being like her mother that neither therapy nor her loving extended family can keep her from suppressing her gifts, avoiding relationships, or cutting herself to relieve emotional pain. Her addiction to self-harm, neither glossed over nor glamorized, provides for potent imagery as the mood gradually intensifies from creepy to macabre to flat-out horrific. (The author appends a list of resources for readers seeking help for self-harm.) The Grand Guignol climax eliminates the immediate threat but not without ominous consequences (including hints of the inevitable love triangle) that leave open the possibility of sequels.
An atmospheric, blood-drenched dark fantasy for a cold and stormy night. (Horror. 12-adult)