So thrilled to share this lovely review from the folks over at The Bulletin!
This novel uses the same setting and world of Salt & Storm (BCCB 12/14) to introduce an earlier generation of characters; the result works as a standalone while also offering juicy, heartbreaking insight into one of the previous title’s most memorable characters: the mother of the protagonist. While Mal, a blank on whom magic doesn’t work, narrates the story, it is his best friend turned enemy, Essie Roe, who is the magnetic center of the novel. Her struggle to hone her witch powers under the crushing tutelage of her gifted mother, her ambivalence about being a witch on an island that uses their witches but also distrusts them, and her sincere regret over her frequent unkindnesses are powerful. Mal is right to hate Essie, but he is also right to love her, and their unlucky connection haunts both of them in ways that will have romance buffs gasping at the injustices they face. The world building is strong, surprisingly standing up just as well as in the earlier novel without ever feeling repetitive; this historical fantasy setting, particularly the witch-protected island, is so vibrantly described as to become a character in itself. Mal’s struggles when he runs away from the island are horrible, but his resilience and willingness to grow will keep readers willingly slogging through with him, as invested as he is in a better life somewhere ahead.
Hooray! Any time I hear Prince Island described as another character, it just makes me so giddy :D