Release Date: September 19, 2017
Received From: A Novel Take Blog Tour
Lucinda Hightower is no stranger to death.
Since she was a child, Lucinda has been haunted by rabid dogs, suicidal crows, and the ghost of a woman in white. All are omens signaling someone’s imminent demise—except Lucinda’s friends and family are still breathing.
The omens follow her to Ireland and the quiet university in her father’s hometown, increasing in strength and frequency once she meets Damien Reed. A handsome third year student, Damien thrusts himself into Lucinda’s life almost immediately and caresses away the unsavory reputation that shadows him.
It’s not until the ghost sinks her nails into Damien that he reveals his secret: the death omens are for him.
They’re the manifestations of a curse that claims the life of the eldest Reed son every generation. Damien’s time is nearly up. If Lucinda is to save him, she must solve the mystery of her family curse, and lay a spirit’s rage to rest.
GENDER: presumed cisgender
SEXUALITY: bisexual/pansexual, presumed heterosexual
TROPES: class disparity
TAGS: contemporary, supernatural / paranormal, new adult, fantasy, queer characters, POC characters, mythology
WARNINGS: ableism, animal death, stalking, death, violence, spiders, gore
Much as I hate to say it as I like the author as a person and have enjoyed his previous work, this book is terrible.
Truly, I don’t even know where to begin. The dialogue is cringeworthy and doesn’t match the setting. It’s so stilted and ungainly, and it’s nowhere near how a teenager or someone in their 20s would speak in the contemporary world. It’s almost as if the author forgot he was writing a contemporary fantasy, because Lucinda and Damien, the main character and love interest, respectively, speak as if they just stepped out of the Victorian era.
The characters themselves are messes too. Damien is extremely creepy (which, you find out in the end, you’re right to be weirded out by him) and he literally stalks her. From practically her first day in Ireland, he’s always around, in her space. Not to mention, he’s disturbingly jealous and possessive of her right away, even before they start “dating” and despite the fact that by the end of the novel they’ve known each other a total of three weeks at most. He physically grabs her and throws her around multiple times, which is completely not okay.
Despite these red flags from the very beginning, and the fact that she acknowledges feeling uncomfortable and even afraid of him, Lucinda ends up consenting to go on dates with him and spends an inordinate amount of time around him. And at one point, when her friend points out that he’s got issues, Lucinda says, and I quote, “He has his moods.” Y i k e s…If that isn’t some “boys will be boys” nonsense, I don’t know what is.
Less significant, but still noteworthy, is the fact that Lucinda is so inconsistent in her beliefs. She believes in curses and death omens, as she’s been followed by them her whole life, and she believes in vampires, because one tried to kill her brother not long before, but anything else is just too unbelievable. Her disbelief is what’s unbelievable, to be honest. She has evidence of supernatural powers at work, but is somehow still skeptical of witches and other mythology actually existing. She claims to only believe in “scientific evidence,” but won’t accept the evidence right in front of her face. It’s irritating, to say the least.
Honestly, there were some parts that read like Twilight fanfic, and knowing the characters started as Harry Potter RP characters makes a lot of sense.
In my opinion, the best part of the novel was when Lucinda finally stabbed Damien near the end of the book. Glory hallelujah.
C.M. Spivey is a speculative fiction writer, author of high fantasy FROM UNDER THE MOUNTAIN and the paranormal series, “The Unliving”. His enduring love of fantasy started young. Now, he explores the rules and ramifications of magic in his own works—and as a trans, panromantic asexual, he’s committed to queering his favorite genres. In his spare time, he plans his next tattoo (there will always be a next tattoo) and watches too much Netflix. Anything left over is devoted to his tireless quest to make America read more. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his darling husband Matt and adorable dog Jay.