Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.
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.
If I were to sum up Compulsion in one word, it would be like this: Brilliant. This book was pure literary genius and just everything about the book was brilliance. Compulsion was my first foray into the Southern Gothic genre and I think I like it here so much, I may never leave 😀
Barrie Watson has had a difficult life. After her mother, Lula, was badly injured in a fire and retreated into herself, she was raised by her godfather Mark, having little to no communication with her mother her entire life. And then tragedy strikes when Lula passes away and Barrie is forced to move to South Carolina to live with her aunt Pru.
While Barrie starts to learn things about her family she never had a clue about, she also begins to understand that her gift—of finding lost things—isn’t unique and only limited to her. The town is filled with the founding members of Watson Island-the Watsons, the Beauforts and the Colesworths-and while some of them have gifts like hers, some of them are also cursed.
I think the thing I liked most about Compulsion was while Miss Boone made a stunning concoction of mystery and the paranormal, there was also romance and the value of family in her book. Family is important, very important, and in today’s YA books where the parents of the protagonist are virtually non-existent, Compulsion was a breath of fresh air.
Can we puhlease get to Eight now? Yes, thank you.
Eight Beaufort is the perfect example of how book boyfriends should be. He’s an enigma, he’s intelligent, he’s so swoony and yet, he’s respectful and (mostly) non-assholic. Sure, he pushes (seriously, you guys, he’s a pusher) Barrie to do things, he helps her learn from her mistakes and he truly isn’t either too mature or too immature for his age. He, ladies and gents, is perfection.
I have to be honest: I didn’t like Barrie all the time. She made the worst decisions and at certain points in the book I couldn’t stand her AT ALL (I’m talking Daisy Buchanan bad, you guys) but it’s only towards the end that she grows and uses the right amount of balls to get out of the “sticky” situation that she was in. So I’ll deal.
Another part of the book that is absolutely commendable is the research that has so obviously been put behind the book. The entire concept that dates back to the 1600s is well thought out and executed and it definitely shows.
The major problems that readers seem to have with Compulsion are Barrie’s bad decision making (I’ve addressed that), Eight’s controlling nature (spoken about that, too) and the pace of the book.
Now, I completely agree when readers say that Compulsion moves along slowly. But here’s what I think: it had to. Compulsion isn’t like a normal fast-paced YA thriller. It’s beautiful and perfect and I love the cover and Eight and Mark and everything about it. Sniffs.
What do I even say about the writing in Compulsion? The prose is almost dreamy, sometimes, completely immersing you in the story and I, for one, loved Miss Boone’s writing enough to finish reading the book in one sitting.
While the underlying message of the book seems to be the entire “Blood is thicker than Water” thing, the book covers a lot more ground on general. I loved the fact that each character in the book had a voice of their own, a unique message and a reason for their existence in the book. In fact, I liked Cassie Colesworth and Seven Beaufort so much that I’d love to see a lot more of them in the coming books of the trilogy.
Eight slumped against the door and hung his head. Barrie had never imagined he could look defeated. In the sudden quiet, their breaths and the light trickle of sand sifting to the floor were the only sounds.
There had to be a way out of this. There had to be.
He glanced at her watch. It was almost ten thirty. Pru would be looking for her by now.
Eight’s steps scratched on the bricks as he came toward her, and she looked up as he wrapped his arms around her. His Adam’s apple bobbed, and then she couldn’t see anymore. His heart was erratic against her cheek.
“It’s all going to be fine,” he said.
“Of course it is. We should go back to Watson’s Landing and wait. And we should bring all the lanterns we can find.”
“In a minute. I’m still thinking.”
“Then think fast, would you?” Barrie tried not to imagine their lives measured by an hourglass, marked by the slow whisper of sand. So many hours until the light ran out, so many days until they died of thirst in the darkness.
Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. She fell in love with words and never stopped delighting in them.
She’s the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, andYASeriesInsiders.com, a Tumblr site devoted to news, giveaways, and insider secrets of much-loved and up-and-coming YA series.
From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, and Auggie the wonder dog, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.