Ahoy there mateys! This be the second book of the year from me 20 in 2020 ports for plunder list. This was a fast read but extremely unsatisfying. I really don’t get how people think this is good.
Now to be fair, the premise sounds awesome. The story follows Olive who is the last in a long line of magical women. There is a catch to using magic. With every spell cast, the woman pays for it by turning uglier. Ye can give up yer magic and become beautiful in exchange. Olive refuses to give up her magic and as she says “But I don’t think of myself as ugly.”
Ha! That is a lie. Olive spends the entire book being upset about how ugly she is and craving the respect and love of those around her. She longs to be beautiful and she has no self-esteem at all. The people in this world are so shallow that the only thing that matters to any of them is how pretty they are. There is literally no discussion of any other character trait or talent having merit. And in terms of turning uglier, it all seems to occur on the face in the form of warts, boils, and bumps. It was odd that the rest of the body was fine.
Then there are the other characters. Olive’s own mother gave up her magic and then spends time waffling between wanting her children to be beautiful (knowing the cost) and wanting them to keep her magic. She outright lies to her children and is a coward. No one stands up to the obnoxious jerk father. The horrible sister is so selfish and tortures an animal with no repercussions because that is just her nature. The two sisters are so nasty and mean to one another. And yet the author continues to talk about how much love there is. I wouldn’t wish that kind of family love on anyone.
The plot and romance are both predictable and ridiculous. The writing was immature and had dialogue that was so bad that I actually laughed out loud over the absurdity of it. The word “boob” is used as an insult! How the characters fall in love was completely a) lackluster; b) unbelievable; and c) so quick, I think I blinked and missed it. The world building was non-existent. The magic had no real rules and the spells were both stupid sounding and stupidly executed. Olive turns 18 and suddenly becomes obsessed with finding “a mate.” The magical women actually think using magic to coerce men into having sex without consent is just fine because they brainwash them into having false memories. Ugh.
I wanted a strong woman willing to stand up for herself and be proud in her magic. I wanted a woman who not only saved the world but realized her own worth came from her actions and not from what other people think. I didn’t want her to behave like beauty and a relationship was the goal of womanhood. I did NOT want her to magically become beautiful at the end and only be fulfilled by finding a husband. I wanted her to use her brain. I didn’t get anything that I wanted from the premise that had potential.
I don’t even want to donate me copy to another reader. Avoid this book. Arrrr!
Goodreads had this to say about the novel:
What would you give up to be beautiful? I don’t mean attractive, or pretty or any other term you could conjure up to describe that thing most women seek to be or most men seek to be with. I mean staggeringly beautiful, men falling at your feet with hopeless adoration as they gaze upon you dumbfounded. That beautiful. I could become that beautiful if I chose, but only with a steep price. Would you pay the price? Does that call to your heart?
It doesn’t call to mine. Yes, when I look at the girl in the mirror, I see a young woman of average height and slight build. I see her lovely emerald green eyes and I see her coarse, orange hair poking out in all directions like some unnatural haystack. I see the forty-seven warts that line her face, which accompany one large lump and two small boils. You’d probably think that I would be more than eager to trade for the great gift of beauty because I know some, if not all of you, would call me hideous. But I don’t think of myself as ugly.
I think of myself as powerful, strong and fierce – for I have magical powers – powers that amaze and terrify me at times. And today is the most important day of my life, because today my mother will say the words over me and seal my fate. For I, Olive, am the last of the Winnowwood and this is my story.
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