The Heirs of Watson Island #1
Paranormal Young Adult
THE STORY (from Goodreads)
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
Compulsion is molasses and a deep southern drawl, transporting us to the atmospheric world of Watson’s Landing and, once there, moving us forward slowly and carefully until the past finally decides to give up its ghosts. Those looking for a page turner will not find it here, Barrie’s journey one that allows us to dwell on the small nuggets of information we learn along the way, slotting the various pieces of a lengthy family feud into place before moving on to the next one. While certainly slow at times, Compulsion gives us quite a bit to think about as questions are raised, magic is brought to light yet never fully illuminated, and a cast of secondary characters hovers intriguingly on the darker end of the gray spectrum.
Barrie is a young woman who’s lived a life of near isolation, her mother’s disfigurement keeping her hidden behind doors, veils and wigs with little inclination to be a part of her daughter’s life. With the terminal diagnosis delivered to her godfather just before we meet her, she suddenly finds herself truly alone in the world, something that keeps us from being overly frustrated at the way she handles herself once she gets to Watson’s Landing. In her understandable desire to fit in and finally make a place for herself, she’s enormously forgiving of those who quite frankly don’t deserve it, making excuses for them again and again for the sake of her newfound family connection. We can’t really blame her in the beginning–her loneliness and longing palpable–and just as we start to reach the point where we can no longer rationalize away certain behaviors, Barrie seems to reach the same conclusion and finally snaps a spine of steel into place.
Though Barrie is certainly likeable and someone we can’t help but want good things for given all she’s faced in her short life, an emotional connection isn’t something that forms quickly or easily. Her relationship with Eight is one characterized by a great deal of push and pull, Barrie’s prickly nature clashing with Eight’s propensity for keeping useful information about her family history, the feud, and the magic of their families close to his chest. They have their sweet moments to be sure, but there are times when questions about what exactly they see in each other find their way to the forefront of our minds and stay there. There are thankfully no dramatic declarations of love or secondary love interests waiting in the wings to make things difficult for them though, and despite their flaws individually and as a couple, the desire to see how their relationship progresses and strengthens in subsequent books is strong by the end.
Overall, Compulsion has some fascinating elements, a few of the secrets long harbored by the Watson, Beaufort and Colesworth families finally revealed, bringing with them not only a sense of satisfaction but also the lingering sense of unease that comes from knowing they are but the tip of the iceberg.
This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.