Monday, March 12, 2018

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

The Price Guide to the Occult Releases Tomorrow, March 12!!
The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

4.25 stars

“The link between the Blackburn daughters and the island was so strong Nor often imagined that the veins that ran underneath her skin and the tree roots that ran under her feet were one and the same.”

The Blackburn women have lived on Anathema Island for nine generations and are plagued by a curse. Rona Blackburn was scorned and left abandoned by a lover who felt guilt over having affair. To assuage his guilt, he decided to take it out on Rona, but she fought back. In retaliation, she put a curse on the Original Eight founders of the island who helped participate in the crimes against her. However, the curse had effects on the Blackburn women. There powers are not once they once were and are now focused to only magical talent instead of the multitudes that they once were. Nor Blackburn is the ninth generation on Anathema Island and is content with her ability to her animals and the earth. Her past is clouded in blood— forced from her body at the hands of her mother obsessed with power and from herself by cutting herself. Things on the island are calm, that is until her mother, Fern, releases the novel The Price Guide to the Occult and it quickly becomes a bestselling sensation. Nor knows her mother is uses magic at a price—the blood and pain of others. Things of Anathema Island are shifting and things are ramping up to magical heights. I greatly enjoyed Leslye Walton’s debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Since reading an ARC of that novel, I’ve been anxiously awaiting another novel by Walton. Imagine how excited I was when I received an ARC for her sophomore novel. Walton uses her lyrical prose to create a magnificent story seeped in magic and dealing with pain. It is quite different from Ava Lavender, but it sticks to the same dark themes of abandoned love, pain, women in families, and interconnected histories. I do wish that Walton had used her talents for genealogical storytelling to paint each Blackburn woman and give further context into the story (and it would have been incredibly interesting so that the reader would have a full understanding of all of Nor’s powers). This is not a perfect novel, but it is a wonderful story that is full of heartbreak, sorrow, and overcoming the past and oneself.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75

“Some pain did not want to be healed: it had to be convinced, compelled, coerced into submission. No pain was alike.”

The main female character is Nor. I greatly appreciated how delicately Walton tackled a heroine who has suffered with self-mutilation. As someone who has also been there and done harm to myself, my heart broke for Nor and I greatly wanted her to see her worth and break free from her fear. When she does become fearless, it is a moment of victory. Nor is a character I easily rooted for and she has a quiet strength and desire to survive. She is an admirable character and I greatly appreciated seeing her narrative come to life.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4.5

The Villain- Fern Blackburn is scary. She starts a cult through chain letters and preying on peoples’ emotions. She knows that people will flock to a poor pregnant girl without “love” and trapped on an island. Her cult starts before Nor enters this world, but her thirst for power grows greater after her novel becomes instantly popular through a YouTube video. She is horrifyingly manipulative, sadistic, and will stop at nothing to gain ultimate control. It is incredibly interesting how Walton interweaves Nor’s nightmares into the reality of Fern’s monstrous murder sprees. It’s scary and heart-stopping.

Villain Scale: 5

There is some romance in this novel, but it is not the focus and I greatly appreciated that. I felt that if Nor had become hopelessly in love with someone then it would have ruined her own journey of strength and overcoming her fears. Reed seems very sweet, but I wasn’t really all that in to him and Nor. There was also a trope that I greatly despise: the let’s make out/kiss before I go into battle trope. I hate this trope with a fiery passion, but surprisingly it occurred with a character that Nor had a lot of tension with and I thought from the beginning that they would wind up together.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 3.25

My favorite character is hands down, Savvy. She is an enduringly fun character with a fro that always changes colors and is not afraid to speak her truth. She is light and a nice contrast to Nor’s darkness for the majority of the novel. They contrast each other’s as best friends so nicely. I was also a fan of Judd and Apothia, Nor’s great-grandmother and grandmother. I just wish that there was more development and conversations between all of them.

Character Scale: 4

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to fans of witches and Walton’s prose style. I think that this will be popular with a lot of readers and I’m so glad that I enjoyed it. Also, I want a sequel because that epilogue left so much to be desired for the world and the aftermath of the havoc Fern wreaked upon humanity.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover! I love it even more after knowing how evil Fern is and the use of the fern plants. *shivers*

Thank you, Netgalley and Candlewick, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Did you enjoy The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender? Are you planning on picking up The Price Guide to the Occult? Have you already read it? Let me know down below in the comments! 


  1. Yes, I love the tie in with regard to the cover! You are right, Fern is one scary character. There were times that I was just shocked by how far she was willing to go. Can't blame Nor for all her fears because of said mother.

    1. I didn't notice it until I was writing my review! It always makes it so fun to realize how the cover ties to the story. Amen to that! Poor Nor. Her fears were a hundred percent justified.

  2. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one, Sarah! It sounds like a thrilling read. :)

  3. Wow, sounds like this book just did everything amazingly well! Except maybe the romance, but even that still sounds like it was ok. Glad you loved it!

    1. It was pretty dang good! The romance was a bust, but that's okay. I don't really need the romance for this kind of story. Thanks so much, Kristen! Hope you consider picking it up!

  4. I've been seeing a lot of pictures of this book around the bookweb but I didn't realize it was by the author of Ava Lavender!!! It sounds SO GOOD THOUGH and I am really glad you loved it! :) Thanks so much for sharing!

    1. This book kind of flew under the radar and not many people knew about another Leslye Walton novel. I hope you check it out, Rashika! It was a wonderful novel!


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