A dark, haunting YA novel - ancient witches, teen love and plenty of intrigue...
I'd seen lots of rave reviews for this book online, so was delighted to get my mitts on a review copy. Sure enough, I wasn't disappointed - it was a complete page-turner, with plenty of mystery and atmosphere.
Penny lives on an island just outside the cut-off town of Swallow - a town that lives under a terrible curse. The beautiful Swan sisters were drowned two hundred years ago for witchcraft, and each summer solstice, they start singing, choosing a young female to possess, then a young man to murder.
The tourists come in their droves and the local kids party to celebrate the occasion, but Penny is sick of it. Her father mysteriously vanished three years ago, her mother is painfully depressed - the girl hasn't got much to live for really, until she meets Bo; a handsome young man who's looking for work.
However, things take a turn for the darker when the first male corpse emerges out of the water and the murders begin. Penny has a good idea where the Swan sisters are hiding... the only question is, how does she know so much?
I was gripped throughout this book - despite the fact that it was YA and I normally get a little tired of the over-emotional aspect of certain YA reads. Although I sussed out one of the plot twists about halfway through, there were plenty of others that I didn't see coming, and as such, it was a great surprise to be 'caught out' by the clever twists and turns.
The narrative voice was an excellent example of an unreliable narrator done well (a hard thing to pull off); nothing felt forced or deliberately 'left out' to fool the reader, and this made the whole thing feel very convincing. Likewise, I liked Penny's darkness - it wasn't overdone and didn't veer into the realm of Emo (heaven forbid), but was convincing enough to make her an intriguing, sympathetic character.
There was romance in this book - something I'm not normally too keen on, but it was pleasantly slush-free, and was actually quite poignant at the end. Again, for someone like me who normally cringes a bit at romantic scenes, this was impressive.
Overall, a really compelling, well-written read, which reminded me in places of one of my favourite YA authors, Christopher Pike; it has the same haunting, sad quality to it. Very good!