The Price Guide to the Occult
By: Leslye Walton
Okay, this is definitely more witchy. Nor Blackburn lives with her grandmother on Anathema Island in the Pacific Northwest. Family roots on the island run deep and her great (many times) grandmother was the first witch on the island. When the locals burned down her home- she cursed the place.
Yet grandma Rona is actually pretty sweet compared to our main protagonist Nor’s mother Fern.
Fern is totally a dark witch and I loved it! A dreadful mother amongst other things she can get people to follow her and she doesn’t understand why she shouldn’t. Nor’s father doesn’t love her? Well, she can take care of that.
She’s been gone from the island for years though she’s left her marks behind and when she writes a best-selling book The Price Guide to the Occult- exposing spells that you need black magic to create- and then actually starts doing it her fame explodes. But Nor whose keeping some secrets of her own knows that her mother can’t do this without a cost.
And Fern’s not one to pay her own way.
So as Fern’s fame and her spells grow she must look to her more powerful daughter for what she needs to go on.
I loved those elements of the book. The island is cool and the mythology as well. While there’s definitely shades of romance even hints of a triangle I thought it was pretty backgrounded. Which considering mommy is doing dark magic for world leaders and needs your blood- is probably a good thing.
But you don’t often (well I don’t) see the bigger picture in books like these. Fern was awful but she was believable in the whole why shouldn’t her powers benefit her way same with her celebrity and the cult like status she seemed to grow into. I also liked the marks of the actual ferns appearing on people and splitting them open the more she used them or the magic.
While I do think the showdown at the end was a little too fast once again I appreciated that Walton showed the real life consequences of Fern’s actions. Witches as superheroes? Witches as government hunted victims? That’s left up in the air. But it’s fun to speculate.
I also must admit while I liked Walton’s last novel (The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender) it was a little too flowery and magical realism for my taste. I did not have that problem with The Price Guide to the Occult. 🙂
Recommend: Yes. Especially if you’re in the mood for moody and atmospheric witch stories or f’ed up mother daughter relations.