A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.
Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings.
But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.
August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery.
The town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.
I’ve read Young’s young adult Fable series, and those books were among my favorite reads that year. I was excited to see if her adult novel would captivate me just as much. Spoiler alert – it absolutely did.
What a perfect atmospheric setting for a mystery. An island with residents that include families who’ve lived there for generations, a tight knit community where everyone knows your business (sometimes before you do), magic, and secrets upon secrets. Tourists are reluctantly greeted during the season for financial reasons, but islanders are glad to see them go when it’s over. Outsiders aren’t welcome on a permanent basis. When August Salt is blamed for the murder of a teenage girl who was his friend, he and his mother pack up and leave in the middle of the night. Their family roots may extend back for generations, but they’re now considered outsiders.
August’s disappearance devastated Emery, his childhood friend and longtime girlfriend. When he returns to the island fourteen years later to scatter his mother’s ashes and sell their house, she’s unsure of how to handle things – she’s never gotten over him. The residents immediately make it clear August isn’t welcome, and he’s expected to leave the second his business is wrapped up. During his week on the island, a tidal wave of long buried secrets come to light. Long a proponent of his innocence, Embry soon questions her loyalty. Did he really murder Lily? If he didn’t, who did? And why? This mystery enthralled me, and I formed several different theories, all of which were shot down as I turned the pages.
August and Emery are well-crafted protagonists, and the supporting cast are just as strong. The dual POVs (for most of the book) between the two of them keep the pace moving, while a few chapters from some of the residents sprinkle clues here and there about what happened that night.
Plenty of twists, spells and potions, and a little romance make this magical realism mystery a thrilling read. I’m now a confirmed fan of Young’s YA and adult titles.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.