Reading Level: Young Adult
Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC from Amazon Vine
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. I thought the premise was fascinating and had heard some great things about this book. It ended up being a very interesting and creepy young adult horror/paranormal read.
This is about a girl named Rose who moves with her nomadic father to the city of Paradise. There she meets a girl named Pearl who convinces Rose to have an old woman named Evie help Rose make a dress for the upcoming Harvest Festival. As things start to unfold, tragedy befalls the town of Paradise…all because of the events surrounding the midnight blue dress that Evie and Rose make.
The book was formatted in a really interesting way. Each chapter starts with an italicized portion that is in current time, then the book goes back to the past and the majority of the chapter is spent in the past figuring out how Evie and Pearl got to where they are in the present.
The writing is beautiful, the pace of the story is deliberate and mysterious. This is basically about an unlikely friendship between two girls who are each suffering through their own problems. It is a creepy story, mainly because of Rose’s unpredictable and sometimes drunken father and because of an older man named Paul that Pearl is infatuated with.
Rose is an interesting character. She moves a lot and has a hard time making friends. Her father is also very poor, so she doesn’t have much in the way of material items. For some reason Pearl takes an interest in Rose and kind of adopts her; Rose is stunned by this but also somewhat grateful to finally have someone in her life that she can share things with.
Pearl is also an interesting character. She is a romantic and constantly dreams of leaving town and exploring the wider world. Pearl thinks everything is beautiful and that it is all a game. She expects the best of everyone, most of the time this brings out the best in everyone but sometimes it leads people to expect things from her they shouldn’t.
There is some magical realism in here, but when I think back to the story everything can pretty much be explained through non-magical means. There are hints that the dress Rose and Evie make is something more and that Evie has roots in witchcraft.
There are some pretty big twists right at the end of the story. You totally think you know what is going on and then bam! the story takes you by surprise. It doesn’t feel contrived or anything, and after you find out what really happened you find yourself thinking back to the story and then going “Huh, yeah, that completely makes sense.”
Overall this was an intriguing book. While not the type of book I would normally read, it was an engaging book that was beautifully written. The story was told in a very creative way and I love how we got glimpses of the present while we were being told the story that led to that present. I would recommend to those who love creepy thriller-like reads with some magical realism in them.
This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
– 150+ Reading Challenge