From the author of the New York Times bestseller Wilder Girls comes a new twisty thriller about a girl whose past has always been a mystery—until she decides to return to her mother’s hometown . . . where history has a tendency to repeat itself.
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.
But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.
Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?
The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.
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“I am supposed to be quiet, I am supposed to be good, but I was born at war and I can only keep from fighting for so long.”
WOW, this book, guys, was everything I wanted and more. I can already say that it will not be a book for everyone, I’m sure there will be many polarities of opinions and they’ll all be super valid, but I’m happy to be part of those people who have loved it. I adore the author’s style, it really resonates a lot with my soul, I adore how atmospheric this book is, and above all the originality of the story and the emotional weight it carries, as well as the complexity of its characters. Incredible work, I don’t give 5 stars often, but this book deserves them.
In this twisted story full of secrets we follow Margot who has never had the best relationship with her mother, therefore one day she decides that she has had enough of this toxic relationship and all the secrets that her mother has hidden from her, and guided by an old photograph she has found, she leaves her house on the way to Phalene, her mother’s hometown, to discover where she comes from, desperate to create a connection with a family she has never met. But once there, Margot will begin to understand why her mother escaped from there so many years ago, and soon she understands that she may never leave.
This book is made just for me, I love every vibe that came to me while reading it, it’s super creepy and you have that feeling of discomfort while reading it, but also you felt very intrigued to know what’s happening since the plot is super uncertain in the beginning, and then it takes really wild shapes, which I love. It’s also super atmospheric, it’s a book that transports you completely to another place and even to another time, it feels kind of historical although it’s not really. I love the small-town vibes, where there are many secrets and lies and strange conspiracies happening, it’s my jam & I loved how the plot developed, .I think it’s very well thought out, there’s a lot of work put here and it shows, the author has a brilliant mind that managed to inspire me a lot to continue writing my own project. Reading this book was a very strange, but incredibly exciting and compelling experience, it has some grotesque and twisty scenes, but if you’ve read Rory Power before you know what you can find and it’s like her unique style. I loved it, I think from my heart that it’s an incredible work, I’m very excited to read whatever she has planned for us in the future.
Of course, the writing style is super captivating, it envelops you in a way where you can read many chapters without even noticing it, and that’s obviously due to the great talent of the author when designing and writing her stories. I love how easy it was to read, even though it feels complex at the same time, the author struck a fine balance between plot and characters, making the latter incredibly complex.
This book is highly focused on super toxic family relationships, so I want to note this in case it’s triggering for you, it also contains gory and graphic scenes.
The relationships in the book are extremely interesting to read and follow, they develop a lot throughout the plot and it was very interesting to explore them further. Especially Margot’s relationship with her mother Josephine, whose relationship is charged and marked by many secrets and things that aren’t said, but then as you learn more about them and their stories, you understand on a deeper level what’s really happening, and that was very well done, I loved it. Another relationship that I found interesting was that of Margot with Vera, her grandmother, I can’t share much of this relationship, but it was so incredible, it shows a special vulnerability in both characters, they’re so different, but at the same time very equal in certain aspects & Last but not least, Margot’s relationship with Tess, it’s brilliant, it’s adorable at times, but it also shows an honest and new bond for Margot, I’ll tell you more about the characters below, but I wanted to highlight the relationships that the book focuses on because I think it’s the most important thing and the relationships that have the most weight in this story.
The characters as such are incredible and you can see the work in each of their personalities. Margot‘s a great main character, she has grown up with many insecurities and fears due to the lack of care and love on the part of her mother, so seeing her grow and evolve made me very happy. I think that showing such a vulnerable character with so many problems to connect and communicate was super intense to read and gives another tone to the story, and a greater impact on the development of it, I was all the time on her side and although I didn’t I agree with each of her decisions, I understand where it comes from and that most of her actions and decisions are taken for her need to be loved, cared for and accepted in a family. Then we have Vera and Josephine, characters with a very dark veil over them, many secrets and extremely manipulative personalities, but extremely interesting to follow, as well, these characters keep you on the edge of your seat and you never know what their true intentions are until the end, what I loved & Tess, is great, I think this character came into Margot’s life to give her a little light, hope, and fun, you know? and in the book we see the beginning of a beautiful friendship that marks Margot in unimaginable ways, she’s a great character to explore within this type of plot.
There’s no romance as such in this book and I liked that very much, it focuses 100% on family dynamics and personal development and searches for the truth, as well as many other very creepy things that I cannot explain lol. There are some friendships happening and we know that this can be as or even more significant than a romance, and in this book it undoubtedly is, it’s a beautiful and super important complement.
One aspect that I loved to see is that Margot is lesbian and seeing this character expressing how she feels about this was very well explored, especially because I like that there’s a sapphic character that it’s not involved in a romance, you know? It’s not necessary for a person to be involved in a relationship with someone to know who you are and how you feel and that’s fantastic.
This book has an extremely different and unexpected twist, that I don’t want to even hint at because I don’t want it to be ruined for you, but I do want to share that I think it was very unique, and I know it won’t work for everyone, but it did for me. It’s weird….. sooooo weird, so be prepared to have thousands of theories and still be surprised in the end.
I think I mentioned this briefly before, but this book is set in a small town where there are several farms, called Phalene – Fairhaven, and the small and somewhat old towns are the perfect settings for this type of plot and I hope you agree with me on that because I love them completely. Margot’s grandmother has a farm and it’s there where most of the events take place, and let me tell you, I grew up part of my life as a child on a farm since my grandparents live there, and there’s nothing more creepy than a farm on daylight, I just saying lol. Amazing choice of setting, I loved it.
I loved the ending, I think it is extremely unexpected and very rare, but in the best way, at some point, I may have thought it would happen, but I discarded it because I couldn’t understand how the author would tie all the loose ends that this story has, but she did it in a brilliant way. I feel good about Margot’s ending, I think I would love a sequel just to know what will happen now with the characters and how everything will develop, it’s such a unique plot but the characters get my applause, especially Margot, I love how her development towards the end lit a fire inside her and I adored follow her going through everything to find out the truth about herself and her family lineage. Parts of the ending really shocked me because of how shocking they were, just WOW.
Obviously, I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to read something extremely unique and original, with a very creepy vibe, full of secrets, lies, mystery, and suspense. I also recommend it if you want to read about morally gray characters, you know that I love that and this book has them all, but also the characters are very complex and unpredictable. It’s a story focused on the family and on self-discovery and self-development, but it also focuses a lot on giving the reader some impact and high tension, reading this book is quite an experience and I know you cannot miss it, I simply loved it.
The complexity of the plot, the characters, and the creation of the setting and the vibe are perfect. I LOVED IT and although it’s not for everyone, I hope you can enjoy it too, especially if you have enjoyed the author before.