A book based on Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” promises a haunting journey but doesn’t portend a rose-colored finale.
The small isle of Dòchas lies off the eastern coast of the United States. Its name means “hope,” a cruel joke to its stoic inhabitants, whose lives are more stocked with Celtic tradition than their pantries with food. Seemingly stuck in the 1800s, stark poverty abounds in the shadow of a looming mansion (the vacation home for generations of a wealthy family) and unpredictable Otherworlders (Selkies, Bean Sidhes, Na Fir Ghorm) who torment and sometimes kill the islanders. Liam MacGregor has grown up here, the unlucky scapegoat for everyone’s frustration: Thanks to a paralyzed arm and rumors of his gruesome birth, he is considered a demon. However, the arrival of Anna Leighton, heiress to the mansion, causes a tidal shift. Liam falls hard and fast for her, the islanders grow inversely more disgusted by Liam, and the Otherworlders make a cruel wager to test the strength of human love. Setting Liam’s antique dialect and turn-of-the-last-century lifestyle against pop-culture–laden, contemporary Anna could be seen as Luddite proselytizing, but the unlikely merging of the two worlds doesn’t feel forced.
A romantic potpourri of doomed amour, Celtic lore and mystery-laden suspense. (Gothic romance. 14-18)