Author: Anna-Marie McLemore
Rating: ★★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.
Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.
Huge thank you to the publisher for letting me read an advanced copy of this book!
Holy shit the writing in this book is fucking GORGEOUS. It was like reading the sound of your favorite song or swimming in the most refreshing crystal blue ocean. It was like touching the softest fabric, silk slipping through your fingers. I couldn’t stop reading it because it was so. damn. pretty.
This is a very unique story and I can’t help but compare it to a book I loved earlier this year, Bone Gap, due to the magical realism and the quirky story. I really admire books that are like this, that take a chance on a story that I wouldn’t normally run across. There needs to be more like this out there.
I loved the characters in this. Lace and her family are a traveling pack of show mermaids. Cluck and his family are faeries in trees; ex-tightrope walkers that dance in the tallest trees. Both have magical aspects to them: the Paloma women have scales on their bodies, the Corbeau’s grow feathers out the back of their heads, under their hair. Both are signs of their affinity with the water or the heights. Both are described as important and beautiful.
The families have been at war with each other for over 20 years because someone killed someone, someone caused someone’s death and someone sank the trees that the Corbeau’s used to perform in. There’s magic and superstition and rivalry.
Then, one day during a show, a tragedy occurs. The local chemical plant suffers a malfunction and acid is rained down on everyone. Lace isn’t lucky enough to get out of the rain, and Cluck is off trying to find a rouge cousin when he finds Lace hiding under a tree, her skin burning off as the chemicals hit her. She has no idea who he is, he has no idea who she is, and he saves her.
Only once Lace’s family finds out that a Corbeau touched her… well… that’s forbidden.
I loved the mystery and the tragedy, the way the puzzle pieces slowly fit together, and how everything was connected. I think the only thing that didn’t really 100% work for me (hence the 4.5 stars and not a full 5) was the romance. It was a bit stiff for me and there were only a few times when I did any swooning (sadly it was usually when Cluck was being called by his real name, I had a lot of trouble with his nickname). I also felt it was a bit rushed. But that’s it. The rest of this was beautiful and amazing and I’m so glad that I read it.