The Swan sisters arrived in Sparrow, Oregon, in 1822.
Marguerite, the oldest, had long auburn locks, full lips and a sharp jaw.
Aurora, the middle sister, boasted soft waves of hair and bright, full-moon eyes.
And Hazel, the youngest, was the plainest of the three, with smaller features and hair that twisted into a tumbling braid.
Each was beautiful, and each was misunderstood.
A year later the townspeople executed the Swan sisters for crimes of witchcraft, placing a curse on the small ton of Sparrow – a curse that has never been broken.
Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow.
Two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.
Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three troubled girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into Sparrow’s harbour and pulling them under.
Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sister’s return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives, unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.
Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople will turn against one another. Penny and Bo will suspect the other of hiding secrets. And death will come swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.
But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo or save herself.
This book was amazing and somewhat creepy (which makes it even better to me). The story is both, a ghost story with thrilling yet brutal revenge, and a story of mystery and suspense. But it just had one thing that really let it down for me. (But I’m also trying really hard not to write spoilers… maybe check my hidden rant at the end, but please note that there WILL be spoilers there. But also feel free to read on because I learnt how to HIDE them!)
I loved the premise of them story. The curse and the sisters that come back every summer and REVENGE DROWN BOYS because of how they were treated? It speaks to the witchy feminist in me. (Not that I condone murder in real life, but yo, this is a fictional book. I am down with revenge and drowning and slashing and stabbing and all sorts of things that are not cool IRL.) BUT… where was I? Oh yeah! I love the premise of the story!
I have zero issues with the characters. Penny is great. Bo is super amazing. The sisters are awesome, and fantastically creepy. Hazel is a little bit more … umm, the only word I can come up with is ‘blegh’. Like, she was fine, but she was also a bit whiny. And hesitant. And kind of boring. She just didn’t make for an interesting character.
I loved the magic of the curse. The way it was explained was really well done, and how it ties into our world (this was an urban fantasy) was also well done. I also really liked Sparrow as a place. The descriptions of the world itself were vivid, and I could picture everything about it, including the island that Penny and her mother lived on.
The writing style was also delightful. Delightful probably isn’t a word that comes to mind when you think about a paranormal / fantasy / thriller YA novel. Buuuuuut it is!! It’s such a good read, I’m 98% certain that I read it in one sitting. The story flowed really well, the language was easy to understand, and the tone was like a light creepy (because I have an overactive imagination, so light-creepy is basically about as scary as I am willing to go).
So, you might be thinking “Meeghan, if you liked this book so much, how come you only gave it 4 stars?” Well, I actually only gave it 3.5 when I first read it, because the one thing that disappointed me so much made me so angry that I couldn’t see the good in it until now when I’ve had some distance. To be honest, it was the ending that disappointed me. And that’s all I’m going to say here, but if you want to read my spoilery comments, then click on the bit that says SPOILERS. I can’t get more obvious than that. Don’t click if you don’t want to read spoilers!!
THE ENDING WAS SO SAPPY!! I mean, seriously?! The sisters die because the curse is broken, but the one who loves Bo still kinds of hangs around? NO! Leave Bo with Penny! Hazel can just get lost. Sorry, but the ending was more of a love story than a ghost story. EWW. Also, I think this coloured my opinion of Hazel as well. It just ruined the whole premise of the story for me. I know other people loved it and thought it was sweet, but that just wasn’t for me. #sorrynotsorry
Also, while we are in the spoiler section, can I just say that I really liked the cross in characters between Penny and Hazel! I thought for like 5 seconds that maybe Hazel had taken Penny’s body when she first woke up, but then I got distracted by some other plot piece and was all “naaaaah, clearly not!” only to then be surprised at the ending!!
OK, so thanks for reading my rant (if you did), but on the whole, the rest of the book was good. In fact, it was great. I will read more of Ernshaw’s books in future. Also, the cover that I got was BEAUTIFUL. So there’s that too.
Until next time, happy reading! ??