[A quick note: I adore this special edition copy of TVG from Fairyloot. It looks completely different from the US edition copy. More elegant. I read this as a buddy read with my friends Ania and Jeanine. It was my pick for the month, and came highly recommended from my friend Shaun on Bookstagram.]
“𝐒𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐚𝐩𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐲, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐭𝐜𝐡 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐚 𝐩𝐮𝐫𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝𝐧'𝐭 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦.” —Emily Thiede
Everyone that Alessa touches, dies. Her magic is supposed to amplify her partner’s magic, not kill them. If she doesn’t find a way around this before a deadly swarm of demons arrives, her entire island will perish. Meanwhile, a zealot priest convinces people that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope. When a string of assassination attempts have her seeking alternate protection, she stumbles upon Dante, a mysterious outcast with secrets of his own. He might be the only one who can help her, but he might also be her undoing.
This read was SO MUCH FUN! One of the best YA books I read all year. The writing was absolutely beautiful, easy to read, and so enjoyable. It was the perfect escape, held my attention, and left me hungry with curiosity. There’s unique world building, flawed characters, found family, and plenty of romance. It’s got all the makings of a solid YA. While I had a few problems with some of the plot pieces, I ended up giving it a full five stars because none of those flaws took away from my enjoyment.
The world building was the strongest part. It’s got an Italian feel, set on an island, with unique magic. The main character, tragically, kills people when she touches them. This is supposed to set her apart as the “chosen one” and allow her to find her “Fonte” who will be her life partner. She’s meant to magnify their magic, and work with them to take down the evil threat that comes every five years. What evil threat, you wonder? Demons. In the form of bugs. EWWWW!!! The only problem is, Alessa keeps killing all her partners. After she kills three of them, she’s terrified to take another, so she brings all prospective partners to the keep, begins practicing with them, and eventually becomes friends with them. In time, she learns that they are stronger TOGETHER. This was one of the underlying themes of the story.
Alessa’s flaw is that she’s starved for touch and closeness. She’s not able to get close to anyone because if she touches them, she kills them. When she meets Dante in the scummy part of the city, he’s alluring, and she finds herself craving his touch. Lo and behold, she discovers that despite it being painful at first, she can touch him!!!! Predictable, but…whatever. Over time, Dante is able to build up a tolerance to her touch. Of course, this means ROMANCE!!!! I really liked their romance, however, it did feel a little stilted in places. The development wasn’t as smooth as I prefer. But…YA. Plus, I loved Dante’s character. He’s got tons of secrets and we discover them as we go along. His background is rather tragic too, because he was abused when he was younger. He carries a lot of guilt too, for reasons that will be spoilery if I mention them.
In terms of flaws, I could list off a whole slew of them. The final battle felt anticlimactic. The ending was too rushed. I would have liked a few more chapters after the battle. The found family, which I loved, was a little rushed in its development. The plot felt unbalanced, like there’s was too much development in the beginning/middle, but rushed in the end. The bug-demons didn’t feel fleshed out, and almost too simplistic. But overall, despite all of these things, I enjoyed this book enough that none of them bothered me. So, I’m putting my nit-picking aside and reminding myself that this is YA. For the audience it was intended for, it’s a slam-dunk. I don’t think any teenager is going to question any of these things.
There WILL be a second book, and I have high hopes for it. I think that some of the flaws in this book will be more deeply explored in the second, allowing it to add in the layers of depth that were missing. Especially with the world building and development. I’m immensely looking forward to it.
𝑴𝒀 𝑹𝑨𝑻𝑰𝑵𝑮: 𝟓/𝟓⭐️