Author: Natalie C. Parker
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal Fantasy, Mystery/Thriller
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss
It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.Review by Nara
Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.
This debut novel is full of atmosphere, twists and turns, and a swoon-worthy romance.
Okay, I'm just going to jump straight into this review because I can't think of a good opening paragraph, starting with: the romance. The romance felt very redundant and distracted from the main plot rather than supporting and consolidating the overarching story. It certainly felt like it was thrown in just for the sake of being there, without any real purpose, and I feel like the book would have been better off without it. I suppose in itself, the romance was not badly done, but it somehow just didn't feel like the sort of romance that should have been included in this creepy, atmospheric paranormal.
While it was undoubtedly creepy, there was something very generic about the story. It felt like the type of story I've heard before, instead of something fresh and exciting. All of the twists seemed bland and the way all the problems were solved seemed much too convenient. This was not helped by the poor pacing of the story- there was a large section in the middle of the book where everything felt like it was dragging, and I had trouble focusing because the book lost my interest.
All that being said, I did still enjoy the book overall. The best aspect of the novel was probably the building of the atmosphere. The suspense and the mystery about what exactly has happened to Sterling's brother was definitely the driving force of the plot, but as we discover more about the secrets of the swamp, we're left questioning what this "swamp" is, and what dark powers dwell there.
I think I would only recommend this book if you're okay with a bit of a flimsy romance being thrown into a book. I know that quite a few people were annoyed by the romance, and this has resulted in a lot of lower ratings. If you can get past the romance, the tone and suspense is probably worth reading, although then there are still the predictability and convenience issues.
World Building: 3/5