In my first impression I was drawn to the cover and had the feeling this would deliver something deliciously dark and magical. Dark is an understatement when it comes to the context of this novel and the magic I expected was more in the sense of hope and feeling. The best way to describe this novel is haunting and heavy. From the start it has a heartbreaking atmosphere with suicide and two brothers left alone to survive together. While Jack grows up too quickly making decisions that not only include protecting his little brother from the foster care system; he’s also trying to provide shelter and food in poverish conditions. Ava was raised with an almost soulless father who taught her to love no one and trust even less. Her narrative voice was beautiful and poetic as she recounts her encounters with Jack and his little brother.
These characters are so well developed and fleshed out with a remarkable and piercing depth. You can’t help but be drawn to the chaos in their lives and how their parental relations have molded them into who they are. There is no mercy in the plot of what they go through and what we learn of each of them. I can’t tell you how many times my heart broke and slowly the author found way to piece it back together only to pull it all apart again.
I won a copy on Bookishfirst but also had the ability to listen to the ALC from Macmillan. The duel narration between Dan Bittner and Emma Galvin was exceptionally done. They both presented the tone of each character fluidly and with the emotional depth expected of a novel like this. Their tandem narration was exactly what I highly recommend either versions for those who enjoy reading and listening. You will not be disappointed.
Thank you to Cory Anderson, Macmillan Audio, Bookishfirst and Roaring Brook Press (Fierce Reads / Macmillan ), for the ability to immerse myself fully into this novel. This is a read that will stick with me for a very long time. True rating 4.5/5.