My first book by Adrienne Young and I regret not picking her up sooner. This is her adult fantasy filled with magic, mystery, and a bit of romance. Thanks to Delacorte Press for the gifted read.
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. But 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.
If you’re looking for a mystery that gives you spooky vibes without it being too gory, then this one is for you. It’s a perfect read for this time of year especially since it takes place in a small town, at the end of harvest, and includes a very important apple orchard. Oh, it also has a little bit of magic which is probably the icing on top of this interesting cake.
This is my first time reading Adrienne Young and I can already tell this won’t be my last. The writing and prose of this story really brought its own dimension to the storytelling. It brought atmosphere and a level of sadness that you can feel from all the characters. You would be sad too if for the past 15 years of your life the people of the town thought you stood on the side of a possible criminal.
The story is a time-jumping, multiple narrative story that takes place on a small island called Saoirse off the coast of Washington. It’s famous for its apple orchard and witchy background, so much of their business is during the fall where people come to pick apples and even get a dose of magical lore while they’re there. However, as ideal as this town sounds like, it also has its own dark past. Many years ago when Emery, August, and Dutch were all friends together, they lost one of their own in a tragic accident. The giant twist? August is accused of their murder. However, this isn’t the only twist in the story. Adrienne Young definitely weaves a complex tale that goes beyond just the mysterious death and dives further into the dark underbelly of this idyllic island.
The story centers Emery and August. While there’s many different narratives throughout the story, you’re mostly with Emery and August as they meander around their adolescent feelings and eventually end up together. It’s a really good second-chance romance, but it’s also not the focus of the story. Aside from the romance, Emery is trying to find out more about her friend that died, August is trying to figure out how to sell the property his mother owned on the island, and each step they make towards the inevitable conclusion leads them down a darker path that neither of them suspected.
Emery is one of the main characters you follow throughout the story and I think is the best perspective. I really loved how she plays the center between August and the drama within town. I feel like she was the perfect character to lead you through the complex story line and show you what happens to the rest of the town. August was also a favorite of mine and I loved that he and Emery had this second-chance romance throughout the story. It felt like they were destined to be together throughout the story. It helps when the author is jumping through the timeline to share how they became lovers in the first place.
While some parts were predictable, I did find enjoyment in how deeply woven the story gets. I can probably figure out part of the story, but if there’s some extra bits that I missed, then I’m a bit over the moon about it.
However, it did take some time for things to finally reveal themselves and the magic in the world felt a little secondary to everything else that was happening. If anything, there was a much bigger mystery component to the story than there was magical. I wished there was more magic and when you finally see the magic in the world, you’re totally blown away. It really tied perfectly into part of the story. But I felt like there was a much bigger plot happening around Emery and August and that was really the main focus of the story.
Overall, this was a great read with a slow burn that the literary crowd would love to read during the spooky season. It’s mysterious, it’s poetic, and it has a brilliant little twist to enjoy at the end. Highly recommend if you need something a little lighter and enjoy an interesting mystery.