The story is happens in three layers. The present time deals with the murder mystery of a young girl. Then, there are two aspects of flashbacks. The first is about Rose, a girl that doesn't allow herself to settle into one places because her father likes to move around. However, Rose finds herself liking this little town of Leonora and building a friendship with Pearl, a popular local girl that is planning the annual Harvest Festival. As the two girls grow in friendship, Pearl convinces Rose to go to an old seamstress that the town has deemed a witch. This brings about the third layer. Edie Baker, the witch, teaches Rose how to sew and create a beautiful dress for the Harvest Festival. While this sewing relationship continues, the reader learns about Edie Baker's history.
This is a beautifully written novel. The world building is amazing. The little town of Leonora is shown with vivid colors, every plant and animal is described with prose that seems like poetry. The lyrical flow of Fowlee's writing really brings everything to life for me. I was impressed with her word choice and the literary elements that just hop off the page. It's definitely a book that I would enjoy teaching and pointing out how the author wrote things rather than just what the author's written. I liked how the book flowed between past and present easily. I was never confused about what time period I was in. This is another testament to the writer because of the different layers of time. I moved through them without a pause to figure out if I was dealing with the past or the present. I loved the development of Rose and Pearl's friendship. Since Rose has a hard time making friends, it was almost as if we were seeing her blossom, but also struggle with what is the right thing to do. Overall, I just loved how built up everything was. Foxlee has developed the characters and the setting to the point where I feel like I can step right into the world as if I have known it for years.
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. I thought the premise was fascinating and had heard some great things about this book. It ended up being a very interesting and creepy young adult horror/paranormal read.
This is about a girl named Rose who moves with her nomadic father to the city of Paradise. There she meets a girl named Pearl who convinces Rose to have an old woman named Evie help Rose make a dress for the upcoming Harvest Festival. As things start to unfold, tragedy befalls the town of Paradise...all because of the events surrounding the midnight blue dress that Evie and Rose make.
The book was formatted in a really interesting way. Each chapter starts with an italicized portion that is in current time, then the book goes back to the past and the majority of the chapter is spent in the past figuring out how Evie and Pearl got to where they are in the present.
The writing is beautiful, the pace of the story is deliberate and mysterious. This is basically about an unlikely friendship between two girls who are each suffering through their own problems. It is a creepy story, mainly because of Roses unpredictable and sometimes drunken father and because of an older man named Paul that Pearl is infatuated with.
Rose is an interesting character. She moves a lot and has a hard time making friends. Her father is also very poor, so she doesnt have much in the way of material items. For some reason Pearl takes an interest in Rose and kind of adopts her; Rose is stunned by this but also somewhat grateful to finally have someone in her life that she can share things with.
Pearl is also an interesting character. She is a romantic and constantly dreams of leaving town and exploring the wider world. Pearl thinks everything is beautiful and that it is all a game. She expects the best of everyone, most of the time this brings out the best in everyone but sometimes it leads people to expect things from her they shouldnt.
There is some magical realism in here, but when I think back to the story everything can pretty much be explained through non-magical means. There are hints that the dress Rose and Evie make is something more and that Evie has roots in witchcraft.
There are some pretty big twists right at the end of the story. You totally think you know what is going on and then bam! the story takes you by surprise. It doesnt feel contrived or anything, and after you find out what really happened you find yourself thinking back to the story and then going Huh, yeah, that completely makes sense.
Overall this was an intriguing book. While not the type of book I would normally read, it was an engaging book that was beautifully written. The story was told in a very creative way and I love how we got glimpses of the present while we were being told the story that led to that present. I would recommend to those who love creepy thriller-like reads with some magical realism in them.