Published by HarperCollins on August 15th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.
But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?
In some ways, I feel like I’m being generous. I’m upping my rating to two stars, and yet this book was so painfully slow and boring.
I’ve mostly been reading it during the day whilst on vacation so I’m neither tired nor grumpy, but I could feel my eyes trying to close as they moved through the pages of snoozeworthy text. It just goes to show that having beautiful, poetic writing and an exciting setting in Montenegro cannot make up for a plot that takes forever to go anywhere.
On the other hand, I feel like this book will be an all time favourite for a different type of reader. It’s not the first time I’ve talked about this. Some books come with dreamy descriptions that focus in detail on the senses. Books like Caraval and The Star-Touched Queen. Books that describe the scents of fruit and flowers in every scene, floating on a wave of purple prose. These books just don’t seem to be for me.
I was expecting something more along the lines of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender when I went into this book. It’s one of my favourite whimsical and charming reads. But the first main difference is that the plot moves along at a good pace in Ava Lavender, and here it plods.
It’s a book about witches. Fraternal twins – Iris and Malina – have grown up with their overbearing and magical mother, Jasmina. They both have their own magic, known as the gleam, which for Iris is summoned through flowers, and for Malina comes in the form of emotions she brings out with her singing voice. They must keep their power a secret, though, and NEVER fall in love.
Then Jasmina is attacked and hovers in a place between life and death. Iris and Malina must discover what happened to her, who is responsible, and uncover the truth about their origins. Sounds good, right? But the getting there is so slow, so bogged down by conversations about perfumes, paintings, singing and glassworks.
Malina whistled softly, then bit her cherry-cleft lower lip. “Orange blossom absolute, wow. That’s wonderful. I’ve never smelled one that dramatic. There’s amber in there too, I think, and maybe myrrh? And lots of other things I can’t recognize, I’m sorry.
I just don’t care about this stuff.
The main story is supposed to be the mystery behind the witches and what happened to Jasmina, but it took so long to get there that when I finally did, I realized that I no longer cared. These description-heavy, dreamy perfume/art books are definitely for someone, but unfortunately that someone isn’t me.