Sunday, April 9, 2017

Review: Compulsion (Heirs of Watson Island #1)

Martina Boone. New York: Simon Pulse, 2014. Ebook.
Rating: Decent

Goodreads SummaryThree plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson had been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

At first sight, I fell in love with the cover. My eyes zoned in on the luscious gold tones, the tree-lined pathway, and the butterfly shaped emblem so much so that I overlooked the couple lying in the middle of the lane, more than once. As I hadn’t read any books set within the South Carolina Lowcountry, I was eagerly looking forward to this book. Though I loved all the gothic elements—the run-down antebellum plantation, the bizarre family history, the spirits, and the creepy folk legend surrounding Watson Island—I wasn’t drawn into the book. Even when it gained a bit of traction, it still failed to fully captivate me. I found the frame of the story more compelling than the story itself. The most interesting part of the novel was the curse.

Love triangles and insta-love will kill a book for me. When Barrie first laid eyes on Eight, I rolled my eyes and thought, here we go again. 
“Barrie’s brain telegraphed an only slightly milder version of the returning click she had felt when she’d first touched the bricks by the gate. The air felt clearer, lighter as if a layer of static interference had been peeled away.” 
Really, really! For me, my friends, it went downhill from there. What surprised me most was that the romance overshadowed the gothic elements. I expected a more gothical (if there is such a word) story than I read. 

I had no connection to the characters. Other than mild annoyance, nothing about Barrie's character made me empathize, sympathize, or feel compassion for her past or present circumstances. Barrie's mistreatment of Eight grated on my nerves. Out of all the characters, main and secondary, the Fire Walker intrigued me the most.  One of the things I didn't understand is <spoiler>how John, Robert, and Thomas were able to trap the Fire Carrier the first time, let alone, the second, third, and fourth. Why didn't his magic overwhelm them or why didn't he use his magic on them before?</spoiler> 

So many things I wanted to know were still unknown by the end of the book. <spoiler>I wanted to know the bond Barrie made with the spirits. I wanted to know what makes the spirits malicious and like children and why they want to help the Watson gift.</spoiler> I will continue on with the series to learn the Firewalker's backstory, the end of the curse, and to find out what happens to Cassie (I want to see her get her due).

Favorite Quotes
  • "The things I regret right at the end of my life aren't the ones that left me hurt. I regret all the things I never had the courage to do."
  • "It doesn't matter how great your shoes are if you don't accomplish anything in them."
  • "The older man, brown-haired and hard-edged, stood poised to jab the bell as though he were used to mashing the world beneath his thumb and making it obey."—loved the play on the word "mash" us southerners are more prone to use mash than press 

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