Author: Katie Lowe
Publication Date: 08 October 2019
Genre: YA – Thriller
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead.
She’s posed on a swing on her boarding school’s property, dressed all in white, with no known cause of death. Whispers and rumors swirl, with no answers. But there are a few who know what happened; there is one girl who will never forget.
One year earlier: a new student, Violet, steps on the campus of Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school on the outskirts of a sleepy coastal town. This is her fresh start, her chance to begin again in the wake of tragedy, leave her demons behind. Bright but a little strange, uncertain and desperate to fit in, she soon finds herself invited to an advanced study group, led by her alluring and mysterious art teacher, Annabel.
There, with three other girls–Alex, Grace, and Robin–the five of them delve into the school’s long-buried grim history: of Greek and Celtic legends; of the school founder’s “academic” interest in the occult; of gruesome 17th century witch trials. Annabel does her best to convince the girls that her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, and that they are just history and mythology. But the more she tries to warn the girls off the topic, the more they drawn to it, and the possibility that they can harness magic for themselves.
Violet quickly finds herself wrapped up in this heady new world of lawless power–except she is needled by the disappearance of a former member of the group, one with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance. As her friends’ actions take a turn for the darker and spiral out of control, she begins to wonder who she can trust, all the while becoming more deeply entangled. How far will these young girls go to protect one another…or to destroy one another?
You know when you go into a book with a preconceived notion with how it turns out, and when it doesn’t you’re frustrated? Yeah, well, that’s me. One of my favorite witchy movies of all time is The Craft, so when this book was essentially a retelling, I couldn’t jump fast enough at the opportunity to read it. However, I was just left longing for The Craft the entire time.
Violet is the new girl at Hollow Academy. After the death of her father and sister, she decided to use bereavement leave as an opportunity to continue her students independently at home. Her mom sees the decline in Violet and finally convinces her to attend Hollow Academy. This school is not what she’s used to. The first friend she meets is Robin, and Robin is the quintessential too cool for school trouble maker. She’s a negative influence and her depravity has no bounds. Next to join this unusual friendship fold are Grace and Alex. While they aren’t as troubling as Robin, I wouldn’t go as far as to say they’re particularly positive to be around either.
The first 100 pages of the book are literally just teen age drama without really much of a plot. It’s not until Violet decides to join the independent study group that Ms. Anabel lead that the plot starts to get some sort of forward direction. In this group, the girls get a more in depth study of the witchcraft that took place on the school grounds hundreds of years prior, and eventually, they are convinced that they can harness this magic themselves. As Violet becomes more immersed in the group, she starts to wonder what happened to Emily Frost…Robin’s ex-best friend who was found dead on the play ground…the one who has a remarkable resemble to Violet.
I think this book had the ability to be fantastic, but the execution felt short. The mythology in the book is fantastic, but the characters are just not likable and or relatable. Robin is just horrible. There’s literally no redeeming qualities there. I wasn’t particularly drawn to Violet either. I just felt like she was incomplete. There’s witchcraft with violence (unnecessarily at some points), but the girls don’t really feel the consequences associated with it,
Maybe you’ll have a different experience with this one, so definitely give it a try and see what your opinions are.
Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Goodreads for the giveaway win. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.