Review: The Price Guide to the Occult


Title: The Price Guide to the Occult
Author: Leslye Walton
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: NetGalley
Release Date: March 13, 2018
Rating: ★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.


This book had a lot of potential, but it didn’t work for me.

I really liked the beginning of the story. The way that Rona Blackburn’s story was set up was exciting. It reminded me of The Scarlet Letter, because Rosa was excluded from the rest of the island for being a witch.

I didn’t like the main character, Nor. She was very one dimensional. She only focused on what her mother was doing and she pushed everyone else away. She was strange and boring.

Another problem was the title. It is the title of a book that Nor’s mother publishes, where she uses to sell spells to people. But it doesn’t really make sense as a title for the whole story.

Many events could have been explained better. There were gaps in the story. For example immediately after the final “fight” happens, everyone ends up back at a house to celebrate. There was no transition, or explanation to how people survived. I think some people even showed up who were supposed to be dead, so I was really confused.

I wish this book had been a little more thought-out and detailed, because that would have made it much better.

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