by Martina Boone
To be published by Simon Pulse
on October 28, 2014
Source: ARC borrowed from Around the World ARC Tours
Synopsis from Goodreads: All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions. Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.My take: At first glance, Compulsion seemed like the perfect book for me. I love Southern Gothic fiction -- the crumbling old mansions, the eccentric characters, the (sometimes) pararnormal elements. But for me as a reader, everything in this book could have been cranked up a few notches.
Barrie has been sent to live with her aunt in Watson Island, South Carolina after the death of her mother. (Barrie's father died years before in a fire that left her mother scarred and veiled. Okay, now this is perfect Southern Gothic material, but because she's dead, we never get to see Barrie's Miss Havisham-like mother except in other characters' memories.) Barrie arrives at Watson's Landing and meets her aunt -- her mother's twin sister -- and we also learn that Barrie has some kind of psychic ability that runs in her family, the ability to find lost objects.
I was all on board up to this point, but then everyone had long, involved stories to tell. There were three main families of Watson Island -- the Colesworths, the Watsons and the Beauforts -- and each family has different special powers and different dark secrets and I quickly got confused as to who loves whom and who married whom and who betrayed whom and had to repeatedly consult this geneaological chart that wasn't in the front of the book like it should have been, but just randomly stuck into page 59 of the ARC for some reason and I could never find it when I needed it and..... argh.
The romance was a bit ... sudden. I don't want to use the dreaded i-word to describe it, but within minutes of arriving, Barrie's crushing on a boy named Eight and a short time later the two of them are meandering all over town, exchanging flirty glances and shooting the breeze with the locals. I wanted more creepiness. More suspense. More shocking revelations. Maybe it's my let's-get-a-move-on-here Yankee disposition, but for most of this book, I was dying for a faster pace and more excitement. I knew going in that this was a series, so I guess I expected a more dramatic ending. (I was predicting a BIG twist like in The Thirteenth Tale, another gothic suspense novel that also featured twins and a fire. But that never really came to pass.)
While I liked this book, I can't say that I loved it. But I can see that a lot of my Goodreads friends have really enjoyed it, so I could just be the odd man out here. If you've read and loved this, let me know why in comments!