It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did, I was hooked on this unique YA urban fantasy/horror story. While the action starts out slow, the tension builds and significantly picks up the pace about two-thirds of the way through. The ending is unexpected and emotional.
The story follows Rosella, a 15-year-old girl, who moves across the country with her ailing Mom and her 7-year-old sister to live with her Aunt in a small, rural Tennessee town.
While exploring the woodlands in their new town, Rosella and Hettie stumble upon a hidden world. Hettie becomes increasingly enthralled with this underground fantasy world, while Rosella gets the sense that something isn’t quite right.
One of my favorite parts of the book is the bond between the sisters. Rosella is a mother figure to Hettie and the love she has for her little sister is incredibly touching. Most of the time, it seems Rosella is the only person around who pays attention to Hettie and has her best interests at heart.
Wayne and Ava are also good supporting characters. I liked the drama-free friendship that developed between Rosella and Ava. I also appreciated the growth we saw in Wayne throughout the course of the book.
The book is deeper than it seems on the surface and shows some of the impacts on children who grow up around trauma and loss. The loss of childhood innocence is one of its major themes.
Readers who like fantasy stories that don’t fit neatly into one genre will like this book. People who like YA books without romance and sensible main characters will also enjoy this one.
The beautiful illustrations on the cover and depicting some of the main scenes are worth noting. The drawings were well done and I looked forward to seeing the next one.
Thank you to Melissa Magner for providing me with a free review copy of the book. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.