Age Group: YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication Date: 19 July 2016
Society girls from New York City circa 1890, Dacia and Lou never desired to know more about their lineage, instead preferring to gossip about the mysterious Romanian family that they barely knew. But upon turning seventeen, the girls must return to their homeland to meet their relatives, find proper husbands, and—most terrifyingly—learn the deep family secrets of The Claw, The Wing, and The Smoke. The Florescus, after all, are shape-shifters, and it is time for Dacia and Lou to fulfill the prophecy that demands their acceptance of this fate... or fight against this cruel inheritance with all their might.
I had seen this book in stores and thought it sounded amazing but I shied away due to all of the mixed reviews I have seen for this book. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally bit the bullet and picked it up. I am so glad I did. This book was a good reminder that sometimes you have to just go with your gut and ignore the reviews.
What drew me into the story the most was the author's writing style. She switched viewpoints between the two girls, Dacia and Lou. Normally, I am not a huge fan of this, but the voices of the two main characters were a great contrast that helped round out the story and move the plot forward. She also added in letters and diary entries, which I really enjoyed. I found them to be helpful, particularly in the beginning, to learn more about the girls and their personalities, and overall I think that it was a very unique way of telling the story.
The author also did an amazing job with the setting. It is set in the late eighteen-hundreds, and it truly felt as if the story was taking place at that time. I have read so many books that are set in a certain historical period and yet the characters act like they are part of the present (time travel as an exception). This drives me CRAZY, and I was so pleased to find that this was not the case for this book. I also loved the how well described the setting was. This is truly one of those books that the reader can immerse themselves in. The author describes the gowns, buildings, and places so well that it truly feels like the reader is there.
I was very surprised that I ended up liking both of the main characters. It is rare for me to like one young adult protagonist let alone both, so I have to give Jessica Day George props for that. I think what I liked about them is that they were so different and yet were complementary; like yin and yang. Dacia is more wild and reckless whereas Lou is quiet and more mild-mannered, and yet they seem to compliment each other and balance one another out. A big part of me loved them because I was able to relate my own relationship with my cousin and best friend to Dacia and Lou.
I was so happy that I ended up loving this book. I am so glad that I didn't let negative review deter me from reading it. I do see that this book may not be for everyone. The historical setting can mean that some modern readers may become annoyed with certain characters for actions they take due to the etiquette and protocols of the time. Others may not like how tame this book is. It is definitely a young adult read, but I would say that it could be appropriate for a younger reader as well. I personally don't find this to be a negative, but rather I saw it as a depiction of the time frame it was set in. But for those who love history and paranormal novels, this is a perfect mix of both.
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