I am so mad I paid €10.85 ($14.96) for this book! It seriously is the laziest, most uninspired thing I've read this year, possibly my whole life.
It had awesome reviews and a beautiful cover (I'll never learn...) so of course, I just had to have it...
Those 0,5 stars are for the book's cover, which is really pretty.
I've never even encountered a book which made such a mess of the plot, featured way too many POVs, went back and forward in time (sometimes within the same chapter!) and still managed to be so extremely simplistic and empty.
There are 7 POV: Willa, Simon, Ruby, Amelia, Holmes, Wynter, and Archard.
And the plot just jumps back and forward, which would be annoying if you were actually immersed into the story, but seeing as the story barely exists, you just take note of dates like a clerk. In case you're wondering it goes: present day June - 1890 - present day June - 2008 - present day June - 1923 - present day September (to avoid showing any development in Willa and Simon's relationship, that would be actual work) - present day October (see date before) - 1930 - present day October - 1931 - present day October - 1931 - present day October - 1931 - 1991 - present day October - 1991 - present day October.
And it's still not even confusing because NOTHING HAPPENS.
Let's start with Willa, our Mary-Sue. Actually, let's not, because that's not how the book starts. The book starts with insta-love. You don't even get to meet the characters, they just see each other for the first time on the 3rd page and BAM! - soulmates.
"Deep inside she knew they belonged to each other."
Well, deep inside I knew right then this was going to be terrible. But hey, there are some, admittedly rare, good books with insta-love. Not this one, though.
Apparently, Willa and Simon's love is soooo strong she gets a fever of 103 F and has to go home. "Yes, the lover's nauseating first meeting is cut short!" I thought to myself. Not for long, because Simon creepily shows up at Willa's place in the middle of the night like Edward Cullen. I shouldn't even make a Twilight comparison because, get this, Twilight actually seems pretty good compared to this book.
The dialogue between Willa and Simon, actually all the dialogue in this book, is awkward, unrealistic, and cringe-worthy.
These two have just met and it's "My Willa" this, "My Simon" that, "You're so beautiful, my Willa", and “"I'm glad you found me." Her voice was like music carried in a fragrant breeze.” Yes, the book is full of these gems.
Chapter 2 (yes, all of that "greatness" was on the very first chapter) is told from Ruby's POV in 1890.
I'm thinking, "Well, at least I won't have to go through annoying insta-love and “how perfect” blah blah blahs."
3rd page of Chapter 2:
"Charles was the first. It was a chance meeting, late at night in a misty churchyard. She'd been there visiting her parents' graves, and he, walking past, had stopped at the sight of her. A bright spark behind her heart pulled her toward him, and fate unraveled."
But back to Willa - you see, she thinks she's a complete freak because she sees dead people and has premonitory dreams. Her parents refuse to discuss these ~gifts~. And now drama, oh noes! She can't be with Simon! She sees ghosts, she can't be in love! No one understands! Thankfully she's friends with this ghost girl, Solace, who tells her she and Simon are like, totally soulmates, and she can't leave him because her soul "is absolutely glowing" and "a little sun is pulsing behind [her] heart."
Solace kind of introduces a sort of not really mystery about the city's founders about whom not much is known even though they lived in the 1930's, but I suppose that's forever ago for tstl people.
Moving on, Willa needn't fear Simon would be disgusted by her gifts for, as it turns out, he has gifts of his own, mind reading and healing, for which his parents, two college professors, hate him because... of reasons. Don't worry, that's all the character development you'll see for these two because, as it turns out, since Simon can read Willa's thoughts, which is not creepy at all for some reason, now they don't even need to have meaningful conversations, they just say stuff like, "Our electric love can fight evil."
Enter the bad guy, Archard, who has no personality of his own, just like everyone else in the book. He is a dark witch and wants to become the next Luminary - the head of the coven, because... power, and prestige, and stuff. Maybe.
You know he's bad because he wears Armani and lives in opulent and overly-described places.
"His heeled shoes clacked loudly on the Venetian marble floor as golden-pink as the Caribbean sands polished to a high gloss."
No, I didn't make a mistake copying it, the writing is really that bad. Punctuation is ill used, there are tense shifts, misspellings, nonsensical sentences.
But anyway, Archard has this witch henchman, Holmes, who is draining the life out of another witch, Wynter, by keeping her in a basement and making small cuts to her skin ("two white petals splitting back to reveal red") and this somehow will break her to... I don't even know because my God, this is boring!
Willa, however sees Wynter's hand peeking out from the basement window and is all, "Oh my gosh!" (she says that a lot) "What should I do?!" I don't know, girl, CALL THE COPS?! But no, because there are spells and because I'm losing my will to live the more I read this book.
So instead she goes and rescues Wynter with Simon's help and they nearly die, but sadly don't.
Then it's off to Willa's place where her mother reveals she always knew Willa was a witch because she comes from a family of witches. BETRAYAL! Oh my gosh! How could you!? Etc.
The dad, the only character I didn't hate in the whole book, was very sensibly upset that his 18 year old daughter had gone into a kidnapper's house with her total stranger creepy boyfriend, instead of calling the cops. But it's all Oh my gosh, dad! and Sit down! and Shut up! And I honestly want to set this book on fire.
So now Willa and Simon go off with Wynter to the mountains to learn how to be witches, because I guess what's one more cliché?
I could go on and spoil the ending, but it's honestly so dull I can't even bring myself to go on writing.