Publisher: Amulet Books
Published: September 12, 2017
Genres: YA, historical fiction, fantasy
My Rating: 4.25 stars
Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.
I received a copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was drawn to this book cover. That’s what had me click the book to read the blurb and request it. I have another Cat Winters book in my TBR, but I haven’t read it yet, after reading this book, that book is moving up the list, and I’ll be reading it soon.
YA and most other categories and genres don’t have a lot of healthy sibling relationships. This book has two sets of siblings that interesting relationships, the two main characters Od and Tru, and their mother and her siblings: Viktoria, Mangus, and Maria. The older set of siblings have a complicated relationship, but there is something to be said about their bond that Aunt Vik took in the girls when their mother flaked and ran off.
The greatest strength of this book in the relationship between the sisters. Everything that drives Od is about Tru. Although they had Aunt Vik as a motherly figure, Od had always felt as if Tru was hers to take care of. Tru had polio as a child and is crippled. One leg is significantly shorter than the other, and she walks with her leg in a brace and a cane. She uses a wheelchair for long distances. Because of this, Od becomes the protector of her little sister. This isn’t over played and feels natural. It feels like how a big sister would take care of a younger sibling. Od doesn’t become overly motherly to Tru, they are sisters, and the writing shows this brilliantly.
One thing I must point out is my very first reactions to the start of this novel. At the beginning of this story, I got a strong vibe of Supernatural, the TV show. Siblings, going creature hunting, one parent appears to be dead, the other is deeply involved in the creatures. I love Supernatural, so this was one more thing about this books that warmed my heart. The story does go in a very different direction than the show, but the opening few chapters feels influenced. I half expected the girls to head to Colorado to take down a Wendigo.
The story is told in two narratives, which I found very effective. Tru’s half was “present day” which is 1909, but when the story is taking place. Od’s narrative starts on the day Tru was born and goes up until she climbs through Tru’s window on Tru’s 15th birthday. I think this technique works really well for this story because Tru doesn’t know everything, and Od needs to explain things, but this doesn’t read like an info dump. It’s Od explaining how they got where they are. It’s built in the backstory, and it’s executed very well.
The was mystery and drama mixed in the story of the Leeds Devil more commonly called the Jersey Devil now, was fascinating. I am very into this kind of stuff, I greatly enjoy shows like Supernatural, and shows and podcasts about urban legends and myths. I eat this stuff up.
I am not going to pretend to know a lot about the turn of the century. However, this book fits into my expectations of what the last 1890’s to 1909 would look like. The girls are in dresses that sound like Victorian era, with hats and big hat pins. They ride on trains and horse drawn carts. It felt authentic to me. It read a well researched and well written.
I also loved how Tru’s polio was written. Again, I am not an expert or even a novice on polio, but I think that Tru wanting to rest, how she talks about how her leg doesn’t work, how other people see her because of her cane and limp, fit. Tru also wasn’t written as a character to be pitied. She knew she had a disability, and she knew she has limitations, yet there is nothing she wants to do, that she doesn’t do. She doesn’t let it stop her. She may go a little bit slower, but she gets there. I thought that part of the story was well done. Her disability wasn’t skimmed, and it wasn’t used as a plot device.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to people who, like me, are into urban legends, but also those looking for a book with healthy sibling relationships.
Have you had a chance to read this yet? Are you excited to read it when it’s released?
Until next time Internet,