This is by far my least favorite of Schwab’s books, but I think that judgment has actually been coming for a while. I liked her last book (Addie LaRue) a lot, but it did lean pretty heavily into flowered language that really is not my preference. Even though it did that, I didn’t really mind because there was so much substance in that book, and an interesting story, that the language was little more than a slight distraction to me every once in a while. Not so with this book.
It’s been over two months since I read this now and I don’t even remember the main character’s name, that’s how much of an impact she had on me. The setting was kind of cool and creepy initially, as the main character (fine, I just looked up her name; it’s Olivia) is an orphan living in an orphanage with nothing but an old journal of her mother’s, warning her away from her mother’s childhood home. But the girl (Olivia) is lonely and the orphanage is terrible, so when her mother’s family does track her down, she goes to live with them anyway. There are ghosts in this and a portal world and some danger and death, but I was never grabbed by it. ‘Meh’ is really the best way I can describe it.
The language got in the way for me, that was a huge thing, but also, the story didn’t feel surprising to me. It felt expected, like it was covering well-trodden ground. The book was very short, and some people might see that as concise writing, but in this case I really think the book needed more substance and would have greatly benefitted from a hundred more pages of character development.
Of course YMMV but I’m disappointed. I sold my copy on PangoBooks.
Chipping Away at Mt. TBR, July 2022—Book 13/31