Summary from Goodreads:
A magic passed down through generations . . .
Georgina Fernweh waits with growing impatience for the tingle of magic in her fingers—magic that has been passed down through every woman in her family. Her twin sister, Mary, already shows an ability to defy gravity. But with their eighteenth birthday looming at the end of this summer, Georgina fears her gift will never come.
An island where strange things happen . . .
No one on the island of By-the-Sea would ever call the Fernwehs what they really are, but if you need the odd bit of help—say, a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight—they are the ones to ask.
No one questions the weather, as moody and erratic as a summer storm.
No one questions the (allegedly) three-hundred-year-old bird who comes to roost on the island every year.
A summer that will become legend . . .
When tragedy strikes, what made the Fernweh women special suddenly casts them in suspicion. Over the course of her last summer on the island—a summer of storms, of love, of salt—Georgina will learn the truth about magic, in all its many forms.
This review is spoiler free.
“The dead loved promises; the living loved promising.”
Content warning: sexual assault, rape, underage drinking and drug use, animal death
Hi, friends! I am popping in right here before we start to just reiterate/ask that everyone head the rape and sexual assault content warnings for the book. This isn’t something that is personally triggering in anyway, but it even took me off guard and made me feel a little uncomfortable and I think that it is because I had no idea that was present in this book. Anyways, onto the actual review featuring my common review style of what I liked versus what I didn’t!
#1: The atmosphere
“The island was back to its usual self, heavy with the thick heat of another summer’s end, a mugginess that could be picked up in your palms and saved for a later day.”
The atmosphere of this book was like, so great? It was magical and small towny and kind of like if Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls was like, full of magic and magic users. I couldn’t get over it, it was like I could see the town and what was happening perfectly in my mind. It might be the whole, Arin loves small towns and has spent far too much time thinking about all of the different types of small towns thing, but it was just amazing. It didn’t seem unrealistic or anything, it was just something I loved a lot.
#2: The characters and their relationships*
*excluding the one between Georgina and her love interest, which will be explained later.
The characters in this one where all so amazing and full of depth. Just when I was starting to think that some of them were stereotypical or just had one or two attributes, something would happen to reveal another side of them and make me excited to keep reading and learn more. The relationships, especially between those of the main twins, were amazing. I don’t have a twin (or a sister for that matter, just a little brother), but it seemed like it was pretty realistic and wholesome. Also, their mother was just iconic.
#3: The feminist undertones
“Because there was nothing in a girl’s history that might negate her right to choose what happens to her body.”
I wouldn’t brand this book with a feminist hashtag or anything (though, actually, maybe I would), but that was definitely an undertone and underlying theme and I was 110 percent here for it. There were some good conversations about lots of things that I don’t want to touch on because it could get into spoilers (?) maybe?
#4: The writing
I am a person who normally doesn’t latch on writing enough to comment on it (I know, that is probably really weird for a book reviewer and blogger, but it is what it is) but I really liked the writing in this one. It was lyrical and beautiful and it made it so easy to picture things in my head, it was honestly great.
#1: The main romantic relationship seemed underdeveloped?
I feel really hesitant even putting this part in because I know that so many people find the relationship cute and adorable and while I get that, it felt like the relationship just kind of happened without much build up. The two girls barely spent any time together, which made sense due to all of the other things going on, but it meant that I never really got attached to the two as a couple. The relationship seemed sweet, but also like one bound not to last because there was no substance to it if that makes sense.
Overall, this was a really good book and I really enjoyed it. I have seen others say that the pacing was too fast or too slow or both but I really enjoyed it. The writing and atmosphere was beyond fantastic and it was sapphic, so that is always a plus in my book. If you are ever looking for a sapphic book with magical realism in it, please consider checking this one out!