I knew within a few paragraphs that this was going to be a book I loved. I also knew that the reasons why would be difficult to articulate, so I did my best to take good notes despite being swept into the story immediately. The first thing I noticed was that the third person perspective was working for me. In many cases, a third person perspective makes me feel distance from the characters. In this book, it made me feel as though someone was telling me an incredibly interesting story about people they knew. Right off the bat, I couldn’t wait to find out these character’s stories. I wasn’t disappointed either! Azalea’s story was complex and intense. Fortunately, there are dates at the beginning of each chapter, so the jumping around in time added to the suspense without being confusing. The hints the author dropped about events to come could have felt annoying, like we weren’t being told things we should know, but instead they just felt like good storytelling. These hints propelled me through the book as I anticipated everything coming together. These hints also made it clear the author knew where things were going, which made me feel like I was in good hands.
The plot was clearly well thought out. The dialogue and writing in general were intelligent and thought-provoking. The words choices seemed effortless, but precisely chosen for the perfect effect. Pacing was spot on. Run-on sentences used to capture the feel of a place are a favorite literary device of mine and Ironmonger used them to great effect here. The descriptions were vivid and read-out-loud beautiful. The characters felt very real, with their flaws and worries and quirks. Perhaps a tiny bit wittier than anyone is in real life, but that didn’t make me disbelieve them, just want to be them or be friends with them. Basically, the author did a lot of things that don’t always work (third person perspective, non-linear narrative, hint dropping) but did them superbly well, creating a unique and memorable book. The characters, writing, and plot were all beautifully crafted. In short, I can only advise you to get a copy ASAP and leave you with a gif that perfectly sums up my feelings on finishing this book.This review first published on Doing Dewey.