So today (1st July 2016) Helen Goltz‘s first Young Adult book is released. I was lucky enough to get a copy pre-release and (despite being about 15 years past the age of the target audience) I found it an engaging read and will be recommending it to the step-daughter and eldest niece.
So, let’s start with the synopsis provided by the publisher:
“In her wildest dreams, Ophelia Montague never imagined she would leave the city, her friends, her school and move to a seaside village. But when her parents die in an accident, that’s just where she finds herself – ensconced in a rambling house on the beach, with her uncle, Sebastian, his boarder-19-year-old Adam Ferrier, and two Great Dane dogs named after shipwrecks. By the ocean’s edge she meets Jack Denham who seems to command the sea and the moon – and if he has his way – Ophelia, too.”
Hints of the supernatural, maybe…?
The narration switches between the different key characters throughout the book, which I felt worked really well and made the characters seem more “real”. I can still remember being a teenager, even if I am old enough to be the mother to one by now, and I could relate to a lot of the thoughts and emotions being described by the girls and the behaviour of the brother(s) in the story was instantly recognisable!
The first character we meet is, unsurprisingly, Ophelia, named for the Shakespearean noblewoman but generally addressed as “Lia”. She is on her own on the train, travelling to her new home. She’s just a normal teen who has had something happen to her which you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. She is full off grief and nervousness and not looking forward to moving out to the sticks. The mysterious Jack is then introduced to the reader (but not Lia) but his true nature is not yet clear.
I must admit, I was worried that Lia would be just another Bella Swan, who annoyed me enough that I didn’t complete the Twilight series as by the end of Eclipse I had had enough of that breathless teen swooning over a glittery member of the undead.* There were a couple of points where Lia may have come close but Goltz’ writing style and respect for her characters never let that happen. The author’s depictions of Lia’s friends are spot on – I especially like Holly- and I could liken them to so many teenagers I have known.
It is possible to draw (somewhat tenuous) links between the protagonist and Shakespeare’s tragic character but that’s more of an aside. One of the strengths of this book (and what helps set it apart from others) is the the way that some real-life historic events intertwine the plot. Goltz provides references for all the articles she used throughout the text, which I thought was a brilliant touch, and she obviously has a great love off all the characters she created. This helps make them all that more likeable (even Jack, with his sinister undertones and single-mindedness).
I must admit I was a little disappointed to reach the end of the book as I had been enjoying it. Hints of Jack’s intentions are peppered throughout the text, but when he has the opportunity to act on them the pace of the story increases in line with the urgency of the situation. The ending is good (with a wee twist in there which I liked) and provides the reader with a satisfactory conclusion to the tale as a stand alone story. It does though, also provide enough “teasers” to intrigue the reader and I am looking forward to reading the next instalment in the series.
So I’ll give it 5/5. Go buy it![A]
*Swan is the main reason I avoided reading the x-rated Twilight Saga fanfic that others were so keen on. I tried to read a sample of the first book but Anastasia is really just Bella, but a few years older and Christian is Edward (but a few years younger) so I just couldn’t stick with it.
[A] Amazon Associate Link.
Please note: I received this book for free from NetGalley (where a shorter version of this review can be viewed), however this has not influenced my opinion and I have received no payment for my review.