Review By Kayleigh

This is one of my best reads of the year. 

Favourite Quote:

She wanted to say something flirtatious, something about sex scenes, maybe. Instead she told a deeper truth. “Romance novels are about connection. About people who connect with one another against the odds – despite their differences, their flaws, their secrets in a romance novel you never have to worry, you know everything will end happily.”

“Unlike real life,” Collins said. “In real life you have to worry.”

Goodreads Synopsis: 

For generations, the Kalotay family has guarded a collection of ancient and rare books. Books that let a person walk through walls or manipulate the elements–books of magic that half-sisters Joanna and Esther have been raised to revere and protect.

All magic comes with a price, though, and for years the sisters have been separated. Esther has fled to a remote base in Antarctica to escape the fate that killed her own mother, and Joanna’s isolated herself in their family home in Vermont, devoting her life to the study of these cherished volumes. But after their father dies suddenly while reading a book Joanna has never seen before, the sisters must reunite to preserve their family legacy. In the process, they’ll uncover a world of magic far bigger and more dangerous than they ever imagined, and all the secrets their parents kept hidden; secrets that span centuries, continents, and even other libraries . . .

I adored this book: it’s a slow burn about magic, books and the lengths we’ll go for family. This is the perfect book for fans of Erin Morgenstern, V. E. Schwab and Marisha Pessl. It’s a slow and dreamy book that builds to an adventurous climax. This is a book that I savoured and slowly nibbled at crumbs. As much as I wanted to gulp it down I really enjoyed reading it slowly and picking up all the breadcrumbs in the book as I was absorbed into this magical world. 

The book flips between three points of view: Joanna, her sister Esther and the mysterious Nicholas. We soar between Vermont, Mexico, Antarctica and England. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the multiple POVs but it really works in this book. All three helped build different elements of the story, and kept the reader on their toes figuring out who knew what and how the magic was happening. This is a blood magic system based on the blood of scribes (which are very rare for REASONS readers will discover) who write in books. There’s people who act as guardians of the books, and they can be found throughout the world. 

Joanna and Esther don’t know everything about their magic, they just know what their father has told them. He died and they are still living their lives according to what he told them. They both are miserable and trapped in their own cages. Nicholas is also trapped in a cage – this one a magnificent lap of luxury that his uncle has created to keep him safe. He’s the only known living scribe, and his uncle wants to keep him healthy so he can keep creating spells for wealthy people around the world. Eventually the three POV’s combine into one in the second half of the book, and there’s a strong action element that will keep you guessing what’s going to happen, and who you can trust. 

This is also a story about isolation, whether chosen or forced, and the need for humans to connect with each other. Each character has their reasons for isolation, whether it’s to protect magic, or their family, but throughout the book each learns how much stronger they are together with others. 

This is an absolute love letter to books, and the importance for us to write our own futures. 

Thank you, William Morrow, for the ARC in return for an honest review.