Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

The Price Guide to the Occult

Rate this book
From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

272 pages, Hardcover

First published March 13, 2018

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Leslye Walton

3 books1,770 followers
Leslye Walton was born in the Pacific Northwest. Perhaps because of this, Leslye has developed a strange kinship with the daffodil--she too can only achieve beauty after a long, cold sulk in the rain. Her debut novel, THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER, was inspired by a particularly long sulk in a particularly cold rainstorm spent pondering the logic, or rather, lack thereof, in love.

Leslye is a full-time writer living in Seattle, Washington. She spends her time eating chocolate cupcakes, and doting on her chihuahuas, Mr. Darcy and Doc Holliday. Her next novel, THE PRICE GUIDE TO THE OCCULT, is set to be published in March 2018.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
602 (12%)
4 stars
1,570 (32%)
3 stars
1,722 (35%)
2 stars
777 (16%)
1 star
159 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,137 reviews
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews168k followers
March 15, 2019
hmmm... not sure what to think of this one yet. I read it for a video project. Will try to remember to come and edit this and share my thoughts once I know how exactly I feel, but to be honest this book was kind of a mess.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
March 14, 2018
On the evening of Halloween, Nor marched down Meandering Lane after her shift at the Witching Hour.

A few years ago, a read a very strange and very beautiful book aptly-named The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. It took me completely by surprise and stole my heart with its gorgeous writing, memorable characters, and rich atmosphere that made everything so damn emotional even when nothing much was happening. I have long awaited another book by the author but - and I feel so sad about this - The Price Guide to the Occult just didn't get to me in the same way. Or at all.

It is difficult to explain what was so great about Ava Lavendar, which is why my review is basically a rambling, incoherent stream of emotion. With gifs. But I do think it gets the amount of weirdness just right, and the prose is beautiful without being too purple.

The Price Guide to the Occult was just strange where Ava Lavendar was beautifully strange. This book is so overwritten in parts that I struggled to follow what was going on, which made for an incredibly boring read. Despite being harder to follow, it actually lacked the character complexity, and overall maturity of the author's first book. Not to mention the charm.

Ava Lavendar was unlike anything I'd ever read before, whereas this book feels more like a standard YA paranormal romance with witches. The protagonist, Nor, is obsessed with a boy called Reed, and the book's ending feels like a set up for possible sequels, as well as a possible love triangle.

The prologue is by far the book's strongest moment. In fact, it gave me a lot of hope that this could be a book I would love as much as the author's first. It feels more true to the author's style, or what I perceive to be the author's style based on her previous work: dramatic, whimsical, atmospheric and with a touch of non-graphic sex. And then - speculating here - it feels like an editing team swooped in and was like "nuh-uh, we need to be able to market this; more crushes and spells, please".

Then it becomes boring. After the dramatic backdrop has been put into place, we find ourselves inside the head of Nor Blackburn, the latest in a long line of cursed Blackburn women. She wants to keep to herself, hang with her friends, crush on Reed, and be as inconspicuous as possible, but her mother, Fern, is making that difficult. Fern publishes "The Price Guide to the Occult" - a literal price guide for spells - and starts selling said spells and causing havoc. Looks like Nor's going to have to get her hands dirty.

There's still many examples of beautiful writing here, but I was bored out of my mind in parts. It takes a hell of a long time to work its way up to the Fern drama, and Nor is not interesting or exciting enough a protagonist to hold the story up in the meantime. For at least half the book, it is hard to make sense of what we’re supposed to care about. The romance? Sorry, wasn't enough for me.

I'm sure I will still be tempted to try out future books by Walton, but I'll pass on the likely sequels to this one.

TW: self-harm.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,054 followers
March 12, 2019
It took me longer than I expected to finish this book but I had a great time reading it. I can't explain why but I really enjoyed this book and the story seemed like a short story or a myth but it was written well. The history of witches is very helpfully given in the prologue which sets a nice basis for the story to build on. The cover of this book is beautiful and while reading the book the cover in all of its engaging glory seems to have the same feel the book does.

In this book we follow Nor Blackburn as she faces problems and past trauma that should never have happened. The Blackburn witches are cursed to have their love story end in three days and there have been no exceptions.
Fern Blackburn, Nor's mother, faced the same fate but Fern was bloodthirsty and reveled in causing pain, a sadist really, and she turned to black magic to try to get Nor's father to love her after those 3 days and failed. Which would have been fine but Fern didn't stop there she began practicing dark magic because she wanted and power and fame which she got, but the price for dark magic is not just money it is pain, blood, and misery not Fern's but that of her victims.
Watching Nor face the nightmare her mother is very engaging, and revolting because of the lengths Fern will go to keep her power.

Nor's mother left her when she was just a child, so she was raised by her grandmother, Judd, who is a healer. After Rona Blackburn, the first Blackburn, no one has been able to cast spells. Each Blackburn daughter has only one type of magic but Fern was never content with her only power. She used her magic or 'Burden' as they call it (which was mind control) to gather victims who would willingly let her inflict pain and torture them.

Nor struggles with the memory of the pain her mother inflicted on her when she was a child and now that Fern is famous that memory seems to be present at every turn.  Witnessing what Nor went through as Fern's daughter is horrifying. But seeing her fight to protect the people she loves against a woman who strikes fear in everyone's hearts is amazing

I love the story for how simple it was and the characters were all very realistic. The concept of witches and their Burdens was very fun and I enjoyed looking forward to how the story would play out. The book didn't ask for the reader to think very much, so if you want to read a book that doesn't keep you stressing too much then I think you will enjoy this one. It's not fast paced but it is a pretty pleasant read and overall I like it.

I rate this book 4 stars and look forward to other books Leslye Walton might write.
Profile Image for Nat.
553 reviews3,176 followers
August 2, 2018
“Was she strong enough to carry all these Burdens on her own?
Or would they swallow her whole?”

I knew this book was the one I'd been looking for when I flipped to the last page of the prologue and saw a glimpse of a name I thought to be "Noa," which was exactly what I was searching for the day earlier when on the look-out for fictional characters with the name Noah, for some inexplicable reason. (I never did find anything other than the biblical story, so please let me know if you have any solid book recommendations.)

The misread name turned out to spell "Nor," but by then I was already too caught up in the world of The Price Guide to the Occult. I had Nor's sardonic humor and devotion to anonymity, the promise of a book within a book, and exploring the realms of clairvoyance, telekinesis, divination to keep me satisfied.

To backtrack a bit, I've been a huge fan of Leslye Walton's writing ever since I finished reading The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender back in January 2016. I think about that book more often than I think about any other. It holds such a special place in my heart because it introduced me to two of my favorite aspects in books: family-driven drama & magical realism.

Though I was caught up quickly in the storyline, as I mentioned above, it still took a bit of time to fully settle into the world of The Price Guide to the Occult... And then. Then we get some character dynamics introduced, from Nor's sweet and lasting encounter with a certain boy to the story of her mother's "formidable ability to manipulate the minds of those around her." And it wasn't long before I was lost in their world, repeating the same old mantra of "just one more page." Once again, Leslye Walton excels at weaving together an intricately compelling family narrative.

I also had a few meta moments when it mentioned how Youtubers, reviewers, bloggers all raved about the book within our book, “after reading a glowing blog post about The Price Guide to the Occult,” because I was about to do the same.

Speaking of which, here are some noteworthy moments I cherished:

• The fact that Nor doesn't attend high school really hit that sweet spot for me. My main problem with YA books is that their setting is nearly always around a school, so I rarely if ever want to revisit those times of my life. So when we have a main character that feels the same and actually dares to drop out and get her GED instead, I'm left glowing.
• The trusty old companion dogs at Nor's unwavering side throughout the book.
• What really got to me, though, was Nor's unique characteristic of wanting to draw as little attention to herself as possible.

“Nor had never had the heart to tell anyone that all she wanted was to make the slightest mark as humanly possible on the world; she was too preoccupied with proving to herself that she was nothing like her mother to be focused on anything else.”

• Which then leads me to discuss the subtle crushing she had on a certain someone (and I'm desperately trying to avoid spoilers here). Let me just say that after reading a whole anthology set around the meet-cute concept, I was more than ready for a full romance to sweep me off my feet already. And the author really knows how to keeps us on our toes when it comes to this one.

“This was what it felt like to be around him—constantly pulled in two directions, wanting to be both seen and unseen, and not knowing which one she preferred.”

I really wanted a solid build-up to happen for this couple so that by the time they got around to any kind of intimacy I'd be screaming inside. He could've just been standing behind her and my heart rate would pick up. It was refreshing to have love interest be so straightforward and honest about their feelings. I would leave the story to go to bed and then wake with a smile at realizing I'd left off right before he showed on the following page. But the romance was never overpowering in its role.


Anyway. I am sidetracking.

• One thing I do wish we could've gotten a more extensive look into was the Blackburn lineage and their matriarch, Rona Blackburn. Like, exploring the different Burdens each Blackburn received. We got a little taste in the prologue but never fully explored past that point the true grandiosity of the first Blackburn women, which is what I loved so much in the author's debut novel with her ability to flesh-out each generation coming before the main character.
• The descriptions of imagery and inner monologue from Nor's dreams were vivid, and it brought to mind Harry Potter's struggle with seeing through Voldemort's eyes. Which is why I was surprised when I read the Harry Potter reference to Azkaban in this book.
• On that train of thought, Nor's mother, Fern Blackburn, strongly represented the idea of Levana from The Lunar Chronicles, especially once I read the comparison below made by Nor's best friend, Savvy. It gave me an unsettled feeling.

“Your mom is amazing,” Savvy continued, “but also kind of terrifying, in an evil queen kind of way. I can totally imagine her convincing the huntsman to kill me so that she can eat my heart, you know?”

• Speaking of Savvy, aka the Guardian of Unwanted Things, I truly couldn't have asked for a better best friend for Nor. This following quote speaks volumes about their friendship: “Though Savvy couldn’t actually solve the bulk of Nor’s problems, Nor felt better having been reminded that she had someone who gave enough of a shit to try.”

• I wasn't ready to be done with this book by the time I reached the ending, so I decided to read the acknowledgments, and I'm glad I did because of this touching paragraph:

(Trigger warning: self-harm.)

The Price Guide to the Occult 1-- bookspoils

All of the above were the things I would later remember. And I so hope that we'll see more of Walton's stories in the near future. I'm eager to know, in particular, if The Price Guide to the Occult will receive a sequel.

ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Expected publication: March 13th 2018


Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying The Price Guide to the Occult, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!

Support creators you love. Buy a Coffee for nat (bookspoils) with Ko-fi.com/bookspoils
Profile Image for ELLIAS (elliasreads).
477 reviews38.1k followers
May 5, 2018
Grinning at her from behind the glass was the man with the Chesire-cat smile.

Oh, how I wanted to love this book. (too bad) But unfortunately, it didn't work out. (it really fucking didn't) I expected too much. (hmmm) And got too little in return. (usually) Honestly, the book itself is beautiful-- all red and green with a design etched into the cover.

A false and deceptive look to pull you in and become trapped in its spell.

But haha, nice try book, nice try.
Its spell is pretty fucking weak, a baby penguin could break free. (i don't know what a baby penguin has to do with this...)

The beginning of the book, the fucking prologue, was the absolute best part of the cake. Everything else was either too crumbly or over-sweetened. For a magical-realism book, the whole aspect of it was nothing but, 'sometimes' moody or flashy; most of that was due to the atmosphere in the book--of the setting, a place. (It takes place on a omg lush as fuck green and wild foggy woody island with the ocean and its misty and smooth setting, gosh what a perf setting)

I feel like for 'magical realism' itself, a lot of it has to do with the certain connection with the reader and said book. It has to evoke certain 'feelings' and vague......things. (Like this smol sentence. Not a lot of coherency, and a lot of 'it doesn't-really-makes-sense' but it-does-in-a-way.)

I felt nothing but flat out 'wtf' at everything and everyone in this book.

This booke fell super flat on its back and flailed around, trying to get back up.
It pretty much couldn't and pretty much expired. bYE.

There isn't a lot going on in The Price Guide to the Occult. It has a pretty great intriguing title. And that's all it had going for it. The title itself refers back to a certain spell book (with the same title) that plays an integral part within this book. Some things happened. But we're never given a full or complete explanation as to why.

So many events that happened or caused by, were all pretty much coincidental and I fucking hated that. The MC is a special snowflake who is friends (of course) with someone who is far more interesting and 'everything better' than the said MC. We're never given an explanation to:

why is the MC so powerful?
what cause give this MC so much power?
what happened to certain characters?
who and why was this certain family guard and protect witches?
what is this magic system?
who is the government?

and WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK was that epilogue???

From what I'm understanding, this book is a standalone??? BUT after that epilogue????

Just imagine:
not a lot of things take place in a book, the MC conquers everything--she has so much damn power but scared to use it, her best friend is probably the best thing in the book: cracks amazing timed jokes all the while trying to help said MC out--especially in the love department, everything turns out in the end and then loose ends are never resolved but to fly out wailing in the wind, and then a shit epilogue about something important and then-- BAM. book ends.

you're welcome. have a great day. thanks for coming to my ted ta-- i mean book review.

**grinds and nashes teeth and slaps hand to forehead***

2 boring stars.

So much fucking potential.
Too little and too late on the deliverance.

TW: suicide, self-harm

Twitter | Bookstagram | Youtube |
Profile Image for Kai Spellmeier.
Author 6 books13.6k followers
November 24, 2018
“Any decent human being, witch or otherwise, had the capacity to do good in this world. It's merely a case of whether one chooses to do so.”

Yes, I know, this was not exactly on the same level as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender but you guys, an average rating of 3.41? That's just unfair.

The Price Guide to the Occult is a magnificent, whimsical and bloody tale set on a wondrous island with a long history. A history that includes witches and witch-hunts and people who regret ever hunting a witch. It is a lot to take in at first, especially because of the vastness of characters. They all have beautiful and unique names but I still managed to mix them up and forgot who was related to whom, to be honest. I loved the plot, though. Eight generations of witches whose past and future are deeply intertwined with the island and its residents. Rona, the first witch to set foot on the island, fell in love with one of the founding fathers on the island and then had her heart broken. Instead of inheriting all of Rona's magical abilities, her daughters and granddaughters were left with only a single gift each.
Nor, the youngest witch and great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter of Rona Blackburn has escaped her vicious mother's grasp ever since Fern left the island years ago, and has been living with her grandmother and her grandmother's wife ever since. But when a mysterious book turns up that promises all kinds of spells in return for money, Nor suspects Fern to be behind it. Worst of all, the spells seem to be working, even though no witch has been or should be able to perform any kind of magic outside of her one ability. Fern seems more powerful and threatening than ever. Fear takes over as the island and its inhabitants prepare for Fern to arrive.

I would have liked this book to be maybe one or two hundred pages longer than it is. While the set-up and introduction were well-done, things got a bit messy toward the end of the book. It might have needed a little more attention to detail, more time and room to unfold. All of a sudden there was a brewing storm, a winged bear and an army of zombies. A little too much to take in at once.

I really wish there was a sequel, though. It seemed like Leslye Walton was only just getting started telling Nor's story.

Thank you to Walker Books Limited for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Find more of my books on Instagram
Profile Image for Brithanie Faith.
262 reviews164 followers
April 15, 2018
4/5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Exceeds Expectations 💖

⚠ Trigger warning: Self harm ⚠


Favorite Quotes:

"The link between the Blackburn daughters and the island was so strong Nor often imagined that the veins that ran underneath her skin and the tree roots that ran under her feet were one and the same."

"Any decent human being, witch or otherwise, has the capacity to do good in this world. It's merely a case of whether one chooses to do so."

"Courage, once found, should always be encouraged to stay."


-First of all, I want to start off by saying that I had pretty low expectations going into this book! I feel like the amount of negative reviews I saw outweighed the good, and, I honestly didn't know what to expect. I actually ended up thoroughly enjoying this one! I hadn't read anything by Leslye Walton before reading this, but I'm looking forward to reading more from her in the future!

-The writing style was BEAUTIFUL! I couldn't get enough of it! 💖 Yes, it was a slower paced read, but sometimes a slower pace is needed, and the characters were interesting enough to me that they made up for it.


-The only real con I found in this book were the excess amount of reference's there were to Nor's scars, and the need she felt to self harm in the past and present. If you consider this a spoiler, I'm sorry, but I feel like this is important information to know before you decide whether you want to read this book or not!


I think the Blackburn family, and events that took place in this novel were a delight to read about, and I'm glad now that I decided to pick this one up and give it a fair chance despite my skepticism! 💖
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,640 reviews2,559 followers
September 13, 2018
Book Reviewed by Stacey on www.whisperingstories.com

Nor lives on a small island called Anathema. She is a direct descendant of Rona Blackburn who lived on the island over a century ago and who was attacked by the other settlers on the island for being a witch. Rona cursed the settlers but in doing so she cursed her own family too.

Now back in the present day, Nor knows all about the curse. She knows only too well via her own mother what the curse can do. She hasn’t seen her mother in many years after she nearly killed her, but now her mother has returned and she is back with a book ‘The Price Guide to the Occult’ in which she is selling black magic, but at what cost?

The book opens with the story of Rona Blackburn and the new island settlers. You get to find out all about Rona and the curse that she placed and why it ended up cursing her family too. The story then moves to the present day and you learn about all Nor and what the young 16/17-year-old does and the shop she works in and her friends. This middle section I must admit drained me a little. It dragged as not much happened.

Then we come to the return of Nor’s mother and the book truly comes alive. I was so close to giving up on the book but I am glad that I didn’t as the last section is worth waiting for. Nor’s mother is one proper black witch who doesn’t care about anyone but herself, not even her own daughter. She will burn and drowned people to get her own way.

Overall the book is a great read. Nor is an interesting character, though I would love to have gotten to know her better as I feel she was a little overshadowed by the curse and her mother.
Profile Image for Lotte.
546 reviews1,105 followers
May 4, 2018
Leslye Walton’s debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, is one of my favourite books of all time — its wonderfully magical weirdness took me completely by surprise when I read it a couple of years ago.
This, however, was sadly entirely average and read like any other YA paranormal romance about witches. I think Emily May said it best in her review: it felt like Leslye Walton had a cool idea for an intergenerational story about witches, and then an editing team swept in and said "nope, we gotta add in lots of teen angst, a romance and a sort of love triangle (?) to make it more appealing to the teens!!". Leslye Walton definitely knows how to write and the writing style was the book's (only?) strong suit, but overall, I wasn‘t invested in the story and the characters at all. I also didn’t like how the epilogue went into a completely new direction and seemed to hint at possible sequels, which I will not be reading.
Even though this was kind of a disappointment, I haven’t entirely lost faith in Walton’s writing yet and hope she will return to the whimsical weirdness of her first novel in any future writing endeavors.
Profile Image for Korrina  (OwlCrate).
193 reviews4,558 followers
September 4, 2017
3.5 stars. Had some very beautiful writing, unique atmosphere, and I loved where it took place (the Pacific Northwest). It had a lot of things I enjoyed, but some of the plot just didn't work for me. Still think a lot of people will like it though! Also, trigger warning for self harm.
Profile Image for Acqua.
536 reviews189 followers
April 6, 2019
3.5 stars

If you’re a romantic person and love slow-paced paranormal stories, you need to read this book. I’m not, but I have to say that this book surprised me in many ways, despite being flawed and not exactly my thing.
Also, it’s about witches, and that aspect was great.

I haven’t read a book as atmospheric since Spellbook of the Lost and Found by Moïra Fowley-Doyle. The Price Guide to the Occult is set in the Pacific Northwest, on a rainy island with its own history and secrets. I loved the descriptions of the landscape, and the writing was whimsical and detailed without being too heavy. The transition between scenes, however, often felt too sudden and awkward.

I loved Nor. She went through a lot because of her abusive mother, and self-harmed because of that (TW: self-harm, blood) until she started therapy. She’s already in recovery at the beginning of the story, but she still has to fight the urge to hurt herself from time to time. She’s a character with depression and an abuse survivor in a fantasy book, and it’s mentioned that she went to therapy and got better because of it. Mental health is rarely explored in speculative fiction, and often therapy isn’t even mentioned, or is portrayed negatively without nuance. Nor is also a high school dropout and isn’t shamed because of that.

The side characters were really interesting as well. Nor lives with her grandmothers, the healer witch Judd, who is bisexual, and her wife Apothia, who is Chinese. There’s also a minor m/m couple, and it’s mentioned that the alpaca farm on the island is owned by a woman and her girlfriend (…always there for lesbian farmers).
Nor has a crush on Reed, a boy she’s afraid to approach because of the curse, who was very sweet if not a bit too one-dimensional, and a best friend, Savy, who is black and has the best outfits. I loved that Nor and Savvy’s friendship was as developed as the romance.

What I didn’t like was how Savvy implied that no one wants to die without having been in love first. I’m aromantic, I’m fine with it, and it would be nice if people just stopped with this kind of assumptions.

I could have done without the love triangle. I hated the second love interest, Gabe, who was rude for no reason, and love triangles between a girl and two boys are just not that interesting anymore, they haven’t been for years. But my main problem with The Price’s Guide to the Occult was the plot, which was really predictable. So predictable I think I can tell the directions a sequel(s?) would take. And I hope there will be a sequel, because that ending is really unsatisfying otherwise – I love Leslye Walton’s writing style, but I don’t think she’s good at writing endings, or action scenes.

Another thing that didn’t convince me was the villain. Fern Blackburn was really one-dimensional and there was no motivation for her actions. She… wants to conquer the world with magic? Why? I may not need a tragic backstory, but I wanted her to have more character traits aside from evilness.
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews205 followers
May 29, 2018
2-1/2 stars, rounded down
Trigger Warning: Self-harm
Also, this review is slightly spoilery, but trust me, you probably won't remember anything I say here because this review is as messy as this book

This book started out so promisingly. Nor Blackburn is a witch in a family of witches, the eighth generation in a line of daughters born on Anathema Island in the Pacific Northwest. Touches of the family "Burdens" -- each daughter's magical gift -- circle enticingly through the story and the writing, creating a lush and intriguing atmosphere and mood that made the magic, the town, and its occupants feel vivid and true. There's a magic shop, a 100-year-old dog, and a best friend who seems to have some kind of hair magic, as it's never the same from one scene to the next. Nor struggles with not really wanting her Burden, innocuous though it seems (she can sense the thoughts and emotions of plants and animals. although it's hinted that she has a stronger power she won't admit to); and with the knowledge that her forebears have all had their one daughter at 17 or 18 years old, after three passion-filled days and nights with a boy they then never acknowledge again.

But then the story takes an uncomfortable turn after introducing Nor's mother. The pacing slows to a crawl. And the whole thing becomes a complete mess, culminating in an epilogue that seems to be leading into a jarringly different kind of book to which this appears to have been a prequel.

Nor has a history of self-harm, which is glacially revealed to be connected to her history with her mother, Fern, the one Blackburn who has ever left Anathema Island (abandoning Nor to be raised by her grandmother, who is only the slightest bit more maternal than Fern). Fern is a very powerful witch, who writes a book of spells (the title of which is the title of the novel). Fern casts spells right on national television and in arenas, and they work, gaining her a huge cult following. But her spells have a price, and Anathema Island is paying it. As Fern makes her way westward, any animals that can manage it leave the island, the humans begin to grow fern tattoos that coil and crawl right off their bodies, and the plants begin to grow thorns and claws. It's up to Nor to confront her mother and set things back to right. But with Nor's history and deep-seated terror of her mother, will she be able to do anything?

This should be a taut, tense, ever-building horror story. (And it is horror, very much so, which was not to my taste at all.) But despite its relatively short length, the pacing is awful. Every time something exciting happened, it was followed by, "Two weeks later," "Two months later," or "Winter passed off the island and spring arrived," giving the story a constant sense of dead time and of excitement fizzling out instead of ramping up. Why is nothing ever urgent?

Worse, I cared less and less about all of the characters, including Nor, as the story went on. The emphasis on atmosphere rather than interaction or plot created a huge distance between me and the people on the pages. None of them seemed to care much what was happening (especially with all that time they spent sitting around letting things happen but not actually doing anything), so why should I care about them? Nothing about these characters added up to much, either. The best friend's hair magic is never addressed. Another girl appears to have a genuine talent with Tarot cards, but it's just another decorative element that doesn't actually affect the story, so why bother even having it?

This was very disappointing to me, because the first quarter to half of the book was so strong, and Leslye Walton sure can write a sense of place and gorgeous magical mystery. The fantastic elements were creative and inspired, ranging from whimsical to eerie to horrifying, and I am in awe of her genius and imagination.

But the weird mix of bad mother/bad magic/self harm didn't work for me at all. It seemed like a dodge around the real-world reasons why people self-harm, and didn't offer any insight or help that would actually aid any real-life cutters who read this book. The reader is told that Nor had in the past seen a therapist who helped her -- but how? She was able to tell this mainland therapist about her mother's sickening and abusive magic? I didn't get that impression. And obviously she wasn't really helped, since she spends quite a lot of this book desperately wanting to cut herself, and sometimes doing so. So I'm not sure what this element of the story was even there for. It was just ugly and uncomfortable and never felt to me like it belonged in this book.

Then there's a rushed ending, and that totally WTF?! epilogue.

I can't recommend this. However, a number of my friends really loved The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, this author's first book, so I may give that a try one of these days.
Profile Image for Julie Zantopoulos.
Author 4 books2,239 followers
August 20, 2018
Video Review is linked here.

Leslye's Strange and Beautiful Sorrows book was beautiful and haunting, dark but hopeful, and oh so lovely. I had such high hopes for this novel. I mean, Greek ancestral witches throughout generations? Yes, please! An island with plant and animal life that go hostile and people start acting strange? I'm in.

Unfortunately, the writing in this book was different, and not in a good way. This didn't feel like a follow up to her debut Ava Lavender novel, this felt like a debut that needed much more polishing.

Nor is the daughter of Fern, a power-hungry witch who practices black magic, blood magic, at other people's expense. When her book The Price Guide to the Occult hits the best-seller list and people start sending away for her spells there is a price to be paid, and it's paid in blood.

Nor's mother is cruel, harsh, and dark and she's coming for Nor. Sounds great, right? I wish it had lived up to my expectations. The pacing of this book was so off. It was drawn out and then hyper rushed. The build-up was exhausting and the climax over before it began. The groundwork for the ancestry was cool but in general, the character building was lacking, severely. The love interest was underdeveloped, the best friend was cool but again it was a relationship that needed more building, and yet we didn't get it.

Fern, Nor's mother slices at Nor to use her blood to add to her own in a spell to bring back a lost love (Nor's father). This is not the first or last time that Nor is cut or exposed to pain, though. While the back of the book does offer thanks to people who shared their stories of self-harm as well as a ton of resources for those seeking help from self-harm and cutting, this book has a LOT of it.

There is not a Trigger Warning large enough for how prevalent cutting and self-harm is in this book. It's a theme in the book, not something that is an undercurrent, but rather a living breathing part of the book. Nor's desire to cut, her affinity for the pain, and the simultaneous hiding and coveting of her scars. If this is in any way triggering for you, I seriously recommend you not read this book. Also, at the end, there is mention of mass suicides, in some detail.

I don't shy away from dark books or topics but this lacks the beauty of Strange and Beautiful to offset the depressing and dark. None of these things are triggering for me and even still, it felt like too much to me. The outside of this book is stunning but sadly the inside doesn't match it.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,032 reviews1,424 followers
May 10, 2018
This gave me all of the eerie vibes, all of the exquisite writing, all of the angsty character, and all of the atmospheric setting that I was anticipating and yet, somehow, I still wanted more.

For such a short book, and with such a sinister premise, this delivered little in the way of plot. I felt there was much more to be explored and I would have appreciated a larger focus dedicated to the witchcraft elements, with an explanation and exploration of their use. Protagonist, Nor, displayed some unsettling yet fascinating abilities and a continued focus on this would have held me a captivated reader.

That is not to say this was a flawed book, but that this set the stage for greatness and I would have adored a prolonged performance, to fully engage with the myriad of innovative notions and intriguing characters I felt denied the chance to fully explore.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Leslye Walton, and the publisher, Candlewick Press, for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
812 reviews154 followers
September 30, 2018
Full review posted

Trigger warning:

There was something coming, something to fear.

The disappointment is so real with this one I can’t deal. Before picking this book, it never even occurred to me that I won’t like it and even when I was reading it and I wasn’t getting the magic I expected I kept telling myself that it will get better, It didn’t. I think I loved her debut book so much that I couldn’t really accept the fact that I wouldn’t love this one and to make matters worse, the premise of the book is fantastic and the writing style is so beautiful it aches and the beginning was so good and then everything fell apart for me and I was so sad that the potential of the book was slaughtered in front of my eyes : The story certainly didn’t deliver for me.

Under that serene facade was violence. Under that mask of apathy was terror.

A magical realism book about an island, witches, blood magic and complex dynamics between female characters, I was sure this book is going to be the next favorite but it has one glaring problem that caused all the other flaws of the book to manifest clearly and to make this reading experience so baffling, I just couldn’t wrap up my mind about it; it is the kind of the books that makes you ask yourself what’s the point of the story? Because really I don’t get it, I can’t figure it out. But before I start talking about those flaws let me talk a little bit about what the book is about so you can have a little context to what I’ll be saying next.

The story takes place in Anathema Island and it revolves around the Blackburn witches and the tie that exist between the island and those witches. A century ago, Rona Blackburn come to the island hoping she’ll find a place where she can live in peace but the men that lived there made that impossible for her and in a moment of anger and desperation, Rona practiced the magic that will link the witches that will came after her with the place and the people in it in ways that are impossible to break.

For Nor, feeling happy felt like being a glaring target. Feeling happy meant that she had something to lose.

Now, Nor Blackburn, a teenager who wants to live her life invisible in fear of discovery will learn the horrible ways magic can burn her life and the lives of those around her when a mysterious book appears in the island and start a journey of blood, murder and blood magic and in the center of it all, two Blackburn witches, a mother and her daughter will face each other for peace, power and revenge.

The truth is this book is not for everyone and I guess if you like your books gushing with blood, full of chaos and mayhem with a possibility of more happening then the price guide to the occult is definitely for you and it is also for you if you like your book atmospheric, eerie and written in a way that makes you choke on its beauty.

Some hearts can’t do anything with love except turn it rotten.

But if we take away the alluring atmosphere of the story and the splendid writing style, I find the story lacking on many fronts and it’s all because of the how short the story is. Now the book is 288 pages long and I can’t help but think that if it was 400+ pages long, It would’ve turned up so much better.

A lot of things happens in this book and it is a fast paced tale that doesn’t give you a chance to appreciate anything before throwing you in the middle of the action; things are happening nonstop and I was completely lost to what the hell is going on, I didn’t have a chance to know the characters, to understand the dynamics between them and to get a feel of the place so I couldn’t care about them, about the stakes and about how the hell it would end.

And the book has a large cast of characters and I know nothing about them, I even kept mistaking characters and forgetting who they are and whether they are important to the book or not and I was frustrated most of the times because I had no idea who was that person and why is that happening. I’m sorry to say that but reading this book was like walking through mud; exhausting and unpleasant.

The thing is the author tried to cram many things together in 288 pages and the result was an utter and complete mess that’s hard to follow and impossible to get invested in. the plot in itself is not the problem, it’s the execution that killed the book potential and left me with a cold feeling inside. It’s funny how I went in this book filled with hope and love and I came out of it like I just lost something good and beautiful.

Time might heal all wounds, but what about the scars those wounds left behind?


Before reading

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is my favorite magical realism book of all time and as much as I wanted to tame my expectations about this book, I just couldn't. I'm ready to be completely destroyed and I couldn't be more happier about it.
Profile Image for Nicole.
631 reviews264 followers
March 23, 2018
After absolutely adoring The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, I was ready to fall in love with anything Leslye Walton wrote. That is to say, I couldn't request The Price Guide to the Occult fast enough when I realized who the author was. 

Yet, though the introduction is a beautiful start to a story filled with potential, the story went downhill form there. The writing is as gorgeous as I had expected it to be, narrated in an almost whimsical quality that is Walton's trademark. The atmosphere is haunting and ominous, undeniably gothic. But there's much to be desired in other aspects.

Where do I start?

One of the biggest issues is with the plot--while there's an air of mystery, there is very little that's truly shocking. "Twists" were either unbearably predictable, extraordinarily cheesy, or a combination of both. Fern is a typical villainess, to be frank. She's power-hungry, greedy, and had no redeemable qualities about her. There is an attempt at giving her a layer of depth by making love her motivation, I'll admit. However, it seemed like it's only an excuse and write-off as to why she first practiced black magic. It seemed...lazy. And for a character supposedly motivated by love, you'd think there would be emotion when it came to her daughter. Instead, Fern only wanted to use Nor. She is driven by bloodlust--literally. There were so many opportunities to build Fern into a complicated antagonist with depth, but instead, there were only cliches.

And how the hell is Fern so powerful? 

Speaking of--Nor. It's a very clear fight between good and evil and it was a struggle. And then, Nor somehow becomes all-powerful.  Where did it all come from? Everything is just so convenient.  

The story itself is also incredibly slow. I found myself more than halfway through, and barely anything had happened. 

And the characterization overall...
None of the characters particularly jumped out at me, though I did appreciate the attempts at characterization. But, beyond the basic tropes and stereotypes, there was nothing that truly defined the characters. As a result, the romance was lacking as well and it came off as insta-love. Exactly who is Reed? What was his relationship with Nor? Why is he so enraptured by her? I was intrigued and curious, but never found the answers I craved. 

Instead of a gorgeous magical realism, this book felt an awful lot like an early 2010 paranormal story. The prologue was perhaps the best part of the novel, and I wish that Walton had, as in her debut, told the story of the entire generation of Blackburn women. The brief snippets we saw of each generation captivated me before I was torn back into Nor's cliched narrative. I desperately wish this novel had been more reminiscent of Ava Lavender. There is so much potential in this story. Potential that is never reached, unfortunately. This review was originally posted on 4:40 AM
Profile Image for explorerofbooks.
198 reviews51 followers
January 23, 2020
Trigger warning: self-harm and abuse

With YA nowadays, it’s very hard to come up with something unique and surprising. I haven’t read Walton’s debut novel yet, but I really think Walton evoked that effect of bewilderment here. I hadn’t heard about The Price Guide to the Occult before, but the cover is so gorgeous I couldn’t put it down in the bookstore. The shady glimpses of an eerie forest don’t even do the atmosphere justice enough.

For centuries, the Blackburns have been attached to Anathema Island, as if their roots are one and the same. It is a Gift of one of their earliest ancestors, the notorious witch Rona Blackburn. But that’s not the only thing she gave her descendants. Nor would rather call it a Burden. Rona cursed her to a loveless life full of wicked magic, but all she wants to do is be an ordinary teenager. Maybe, just maybe, there will be no suffering this time. No longing for greater power. All this hopeful thinking changes when a strange book gets published, written by her mother. The last time Nor saw her, she was playing with dangerous, abominable magic. As the old stories say, magic always comes with a price. And Fern Blackburn has no problem with sacrificing others for her cause.

The writer definitely outdid herself in adding an alluring hint of mystery to the setting. Anathema Island is difficult to decipher. It’s a sober island, with strange eclectic people. One of the most frequent shops is “The Witching Hour”, to give an example. Yet, the world they live in is still modern, and the Internet is already a thing. It rather reminded me of The Wicked Deep, or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And of course, on a strange island, that’s where the witches belong. This book entails the history of witches: the usual slut-shaming in the ancient times, when men cheated on their wives and blamed it on witchcraft. Unions became scandals, and women craved revenge, like Rona Blackburn did. Needless to say, this book is a very feminist piece of art. It praises the female sex by embracing their power, and doesn’t make any of them a victim. There’s even a female president. It’s a simple, yet bloody, dark fantasy that’s perfect for wintery nights. Since it’s so short you’ll just slide through it, and the gorgeous lavish writing undeniably helps. The atmospheric, precise descriptions instantly bring objects and places to live, which means the repulsive scenes aren’t easy to forget. It gave me the constant sense that something bad was about to happen, as if something dangerous was peeking from the dark. That’s how you write successful suspense.

That Walton wanted to support the LGBTQ community was clear in the sweeping amount of queer characters. Unfortunately, other than that, readers were deprived of character development for anyone other than Nor. Apart from humorous instances, I can’t name any other traits for the minor characters. Savvy was the spontaneous witty best friend, with wild colored hair. Reed is the typical nice guy who remains unconditionally loyal to his friends. Gage, on the other hand, is the brooding guy with secrets and grim determination. Judd was the caring, loud grandmother who did have potential, yet she didn’t get any depth. Since the book was supposed to be of symbolic value for Nor, she got the broadest context. She rather remained anonymous, and struggled with self-harming after escaping from her abusive mother. This is mentioned a lot, and I found it fascinating how I even understood her motivation at times. She surely was an interesting, realistic heroine, but the recurring references made me feel uncomfortable sometimes. Still, Walton deserves respect for representing all kids who struggle with this darkness.

Despite being a short novel, it did contain a thorough magic system. Each Blackburn daughter only had one type of magic. Nor was in complete touch with nature, so she could hear plants and animals. It wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be, compared to relentless speed or extraordinary strength. In fact, it was a more human power that was actually quite original. Judd’s ability was healing, but not the instant removal of scars. She had to lure the pain our, which was a tiring and complicated event. Sometimes the pain came out as rose petals, other times as demons or crystals. It was something I had never seen before and one of the superior aspects of the novel.

The Price Guide to the Occult has a gradual, engaging rhythm. Even though the plot spreads over a year, each chapter simply excites you. Yet, I didn’t agree with everything involved in the book, hence the 3.5 stars. I saw no need for romance, since as I mentioned before, the characters didn’t have any individual story, and so I couldn’t tell why they could possibly fall for each other in the first place. I get why she wanted to make the eeriness overshadow the romantic relationship, but if it doesn’t influence the story, it shouldn’t be included in the first place. Since it’s a symbolic journey, not everyone might enjoy this book. It focuses on Nor’s self-discovering road to acceptance, and how she eventually overcomes her darkness. This is why the final battle got neglected, which frustrated many readers, including me. And still, if you’re looking for something new and creepy, this is it. It might not be a perfect read, but it will surely stick with you.
Profile Image for Renee Godding.
611 reviews574 followers
April 11, 2020
4.5/5 stars

Read for O.W.L.s Magical Readathon 2020, History of magic: a book that features witches

April’s winning streak continues. Although I can understand how this wasn’t a hit for everybody but I actually really loved it. Leslye Walton is a master of atmospheric settings and this was no exception.
I hope to write a full review at some point but at this moment I really can’t plan for anything.
Profile Image for Misty.
796 reviews1,230 followers
April 12, 2018
The amount of times I like a strange book, only to come to Goodreads and learn that everyone else finds it slow... I could buy a goddamn pony if you gave me a dollar for each time. 😂

Anyway, I'll be reviewing this soon.


I cannot tell you how many times I've read and fallen in love with a book that I found to be nicely plotted and paced and plenty compelling, only to pop over to Goodreads and find that people are describing it as slow. . . So add this to the list of books I champion under the heading of "SLOW PACING IS NOT THE SAME AS EVEN PACING AND DEVELOPMENT, PEOPLE," along with faves like All These Things I've Done, Tin Star, Tess of the RoadThe Accident Season...
aka, Slow Burn Books (apparently).

(And wouldn't you know, these are coincidentally also my cold fish books. Could it be that what some readers consider slow is being in the head of a female character they don't love unreservedly? There may be a future Book Chat in there, somewhere...)

The Price Guide to the Occult lured me in thoroughly and immediately.  It's darker and more complex than I was expecting; more no-holds-barred than one generally meets with in YA (which is no slight to the vast array of YA that is out there, whether it 'goes there' or not, but Price Guide frequently and immediately insists it will pull no punches). 

Yes, it could be cheesy, and yes, it could be over the top -- as a book I just finished reading proclaims, most good books are -- but against a magical realistic backdrop of intergenerational witches on a windswept island, a bit of over the top works. I felt connected to the story from nearly page one; there are some stories that make you feel not just as if you can visualize the place and characters, but as if you know them. Books that make you feel you have spent a considerably larger amount of time within their pages than you actually have. This owes a lot to an author's handle on their story and world, I think -- even when you don't have all of the information, you can tell when an author does. You can tell when their brain has been half-within their story world for quite some length of time. Everything feels realized. Characters act as only they would. There is consistency, through and through.

Price Guide gave me that, along with healthy doses of some of my favorite things -- family sagas about strong, magical women; internal and external conflict; quirky small towns; actual real-world conseqeunces; tall tale vibes -- wrapped up in a story that is both light and dark, simple and complex, fast and slow.  It had its flaws, certainly (the end is too messy and fast-paced to suit the build up that came before, and the build-up in general definitely satisfied me more than the resolution), but there's no denying that I tore through it, (mostly) loved it, and didn't want to be finished when I was. I would very much love stories about the previous Blackburn women of Anathema island. And I very much think I need to finally get around to picking up Walton's other novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender.

Maybe you'll disagree with my fondness for this book and these characters, just as maybe you've disagreed with the handful of other books that I've thoroughly loved and ate up, only to see other's call it boring. But either way, I recommend The Price Guide to the Occult just as I've recommended those cold-fish others, and am very curious to hear your thoughts, if and when you read it.

Major trigger warning for themes of abuse, self-harm, and everything surrounding such weighty topics.
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
595 reviews817 followers
June 6, 2020
Content Warning:

When this says "Price Guide," it literally means "price guide."

Shocker, right?

I may have been a little misled because I was under the suggestion that the Prices could have been some witchy family & they wrote some book about the occult? How did I get so misled? What happened?

But, I was so pleased with the results, and even though it really was a literal price guide (like $10 for a healing spell!) I had a lot of fun with this novel.

This had all sorts of witchy goodness that was so badass, while also just having a narrative structure that was very enjoyable to me.

Unlike The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender which I found to be too tangential and too flowery, this has a much better balance in my opinion. The storyline is much more linear and it has a short prologue with the ancestor & the curse, and then the rest of it is about Nor and her adventures.

The writing style is also a lot less flowery and lyrical and a little edgier. It's still very beautiful, but a different sort of beautiful that I really enjoyed.

I really liked Nor and although I couldn't connect too much with her, she was enjoyable to read about and didn't cause unnecessary drama, although she did come off as a little too martyr-like at times (throwing herself into action to save someone). This didn't end up bothering me though, and I liked how she fit into the novel.

The plot was also really exciting and I felt really proud of myself for catching some subtle hints beforehand and it all pieced together very nicely. As a whole, this novel came off as very cohesive and its plot structure had a nice buildup, climax, and conclusion. It felt like it worked, which was really nice for me.

The self-harm aspect of the novel was very strong and very important to it, but it didn't end up being super graphic (I personally get very uncomfortable when authors describe every detail of someone self-harming). There's also some themes of child abuse etc. with Nor's mother.

The romance definitely is not a huge part of this novel, but I liked seeing how Nor explored this from time to time in a sensible, non-irrational manner. With the whole "curse" idea, there was potential for all of this to go downhill, but fortunately it did not.

The one thing I wasn't too big of a fan of was just the side characters. They ended up being very confusing for me and all the names ended up kind of blurring together. One of the things Ava Lavender did well was making all the characters very distinct, but besides Nor and her very, very close inner circle, some of the side characters got muddled for me.

Overall, this was a very fun novel to read and I definitely got more and more sucked into it as the book progressed. If you loved Ava Lavender, then I think you should definitely give it a shot. And if you didn't love Ava Lavender, still try again because I think that this has a much better execution than Walton's debut.
Profile Image for Sofii♡ (A Book. A Thought.).
401 reviews429 followers
May 22, 2018

I LOVED IT, has nurtured my love for witches even more, it's such a beautifully atmospheric book, I feel that it was exactly what I needed. Deal with sensitive issues such as self-harm and abuse, so I want to warn you about that.


4.5/5 Stars

You can find this one and more of my reviews on my blog A Book. A Thought.

The story follows Nor Blackburn, she's the descendant of Rona Blackburn who was, long time ago, a very powerful witch who came to the island of Anathema with the hope of creating a life there. But the 8 original colonists of the island blamed her for things that happened and decided to kill the witch that was causing her problems, but Rona managed to escape and cursed the colonists. Now we go back to Nor, who doesn't want to be more than a normal teenager, but with an extraordinary magical power and a curse that chases her lineage, that will be a bit difficult to achieve. One day this book called "The Price Guide to the Occult" appears and promises to be able to cast any kind of spell for a certain price, but this book will only bring darkness to the island since its author is nothing less than Nor's mother, which arrival will only bring darkness.

The Price Guide to the Occult, is such a deep and dark book, but at the same time it's very light to read, in fact I'm surprised to have enjoyed it as much as I have, being honest I didn't have big expectations, I'm sorry book! LOL. But .it knew how to captivate me with its captivating plot, mysterious characters and its beautiful writing style

I think that although it's a very short book in fact makes you feel many things, Nor's life has been so difficult as a child, her mother is an evil woman who did terrible things with her, and all this has left large sequels in Nor. She has attempt against her own life on several occasions but we can see how little by little she's getting stronger and somehow manages to overcome all the darkness that haunts her.
Her story being so painful made me as a reader immediately felt attached to her and want her to be happy. One thing I admire a lot about this main character is that she doesn't play at being the victim at any time, she in fact almost never shares what happened to her to anyone. I think I saw something very positive about her, Nor's very sweet with others and she really cares, and that shows a lot of strength in her, I like that


Talking about the plot in general, I liked it a lot, I think the ending was weird, I'm not sure, maybe it was too fast or too light for me, even so I enjoyed the dialogues, there is something very epic on them lol.
The epilogue promises that there may be another book after this one, which would make me very happy. But honestly I think that from beginning until a little more than the half of it, is the strong part and is the one that I've enjoyed the most, I like how atmospheric it turned out to be, the island and its descriptions are beautiful and at the same time sombre, which It makes it the perfect setting for this kind of stories. Although the book focuses a lot on the Blackburn family and magic, they can also see other characters and other families that connect with the main story in a very interesting way

The characters are great, I will not talk about Nor again because you already know that I love her, but there is another ones that are perfect for the book, the writer has a lot of talent to write characters, that's for sure.
We have Savvy, she's Nor's best friend, and she's absolutely funny and always says what she thinks, I love that. We have Nor's grandmother, Judd, and she's so particular and different, I loved this character, besides I was pleasantly surprised to see how Judd is in a relationship with another woman and the dynamic between them together with Nor is fantastic , the natural that this relationship is, has been so pleasant to read. Then we have Gage and I really don't know why I liked him so much, I think I would have liked him to have a stronger role in the plot but I really liked him, I guess it's the typical bad guy who is not that bad (I'm a cliche lol). And finally we have Reed and oh god is the sweetest guy ever, I love him, I feel like he's like Simon of Shadow Hunters or something like that.
Honestly, I liked even the bad characters, it's funny cause there's always someone I don't like but in this book I could talk about them forever, there's something so natural in the way they're created, you just start reading about them and you feel you know them since ever and with that said, you can imagine how well written this book is!


The writing style is very beautiful, the way in which the chapters are divided and they begin with a Rona's phrase, is very engaging. But at the same time I think it's not complex at all, it's a simply beautiful and poetic writing, that kind of writing that works perfectly for this kind of story

I highly recommend this book if you want a magical, atmospheric and quick to read story. That I've emphasized its simplicity doesn't mean that it doesn't touch strong issues, it's necessary to be careful. I think that if you want to have a great time with very well created characters, a couple of curses and a mysterious island, this one is perfect.
Profile Image for Figgy.
678 reviews219 followers
April 6, 2018
Ohhhh, this is so pretty in person! And the pages are edged in red!


Gorgeous presentation and some gorgeous wording. Overall not what I expected, and it had elements that had been done before, but other elements still that were definitely intriguing.

In the end, it feels as though this is maybe not the end of the story, and I would definitely read more from this universe, but it stands alone perfectly fine as well.

Nothing... earth shattering, with the exception of the look at self-harm and about overcoming your fears and finding your inner strength, with information on self-harm help at the back of the book.
Profile Image for Judith.
429 reviews3 followers
May 14, 2021
2018: This was just so beautiful and wonderful and enchanting and love the fact that there’s helplines for self-harm in the back // 4,5 stars
2021: Good morning to the fact that what stopped Nor from going under was the glow of her grandmother's pipe, serving as a reminder that Judd was always there to take care of her // 4,5 stars
Profile Image for Cori Reed.
1,135 reviews379 followers
June 18, 2018
Trigger warning: CUTTING/SELF HARM
Had I read this book at a time in my life where I was in a darker place it would have been very bad. There is A LOT of cutting and self harm on the page. Luckily, I had a good friend warn me and I felt good enough about my mental state, but be warned! Even while feeling quite well this book threw me. It's pretty intense.

Also, I liked it, but not a lot. It's witchy and has a cool setting, but I think Leslye Walton had big shoes to fill following up Ava Lavender and this just didn't quite hit it for me. I did still enjoy it, but if you LOVE Ava and/or have a trigger about self harm I might give it a pass.
Profile Image for Patricija - aparecium_libri.
513 reviews92 followers
October 20, 2019
In a sentence; great premise, bad execution. It had potential, but I was so bored. The main character is really two demensional and forgetful. The best thing was her best friend, all witty with character. The plot was really slow.
Profile Image for Sarah Marie.
1,830 reviews227 followers
March 13, 2018
The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

4.25 stars

“The link between the Blackburn daughters and the island was so strong Nor often imagined that the veins that ran underneath her skin and the tree roots that ran under her feet were one and the same.”

The Blackburn women have lived on Anathema Island for nine generations and are plagued by a curse. Rona Blackburn was scorned and left abandoned by a lover who felt guilt over having affair. To assuage his guilt, he decided to take it out on Rona, but she fought back. In retaliation, she put a curse on the Original Eight founders of the island who helped participate in the crimes against her. However, the curse had effects on the Blackburn women. There powers are not once they once were and are now focused to only magical talent instead of the multitudes that they once were. Nor Blackburn is the ninth generation on Anathema Island and is content with her ability to her animals and the earth. Her past is clouded in blood— forced from her body at the hands of her mother obsessed with power and from herself by cutting herself. Things on the island are calm, that is until her mother, Fern, releases the novel The Price Guide to the Occult and it quickly becomes a bestselling sensation. Nor knows her mother is uses magic at a price—the blood and pain of others. Things of Anathema Island are shifting and things are ramping up to magical heights. I greatly enjoyed Leslye Walton’s debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Since reading an ARC of that novel, I’ve been anxiously awaiting another novel by Walton. Imagine how excited I was when I received an ARC for her sophomore novel. Walton uses her lyrical prose to create a magnificent story seeped in magic and dealing with pain. It is quite different from Ava Lavender, but it sticks to the same dark themes of abandoned love, pain, women in families, and interconnected histories. I do wish that Walton had used her talents for genealogical storytelling to paint each Blackburn woman and give further context into the story (and it would have been incredibly interesting so that the reader would have a full understanding of all of Nor’s powers). This is not a perfect novel, but it is a wonderful story that is full of heartbreak, sorrow, and overcoming the past and oneself.

Whimsical Writing Scale: 4.75

“Some pain did not want to be healed: it had to be convinced, compelled, coerced into submission. No pain was alike.”

The main female character is Nor. I greatly appreciated how delicately Walton tackled a heroine who has suffered with self-mutilation. As someone who has also been there and done harm to myself, my heart broke for Nor and I greatly wanted her to see her worth and break free from her fear. When she does become fearless, it is a moment of victory. Nor is a character I easily rooted for and she has a quiet strength and desire to survive. She is an admirable character and I greatly appreciated seeing her narrative come to life.

Kick-Butt Heroine Scale: 4.5

The Villain- Fern Blackburn is scary. She starts a cult through chain letters and preying on peoples’ emotions. She knows that people will flock to a poor pregnant girl without “love” and trapped on an island. Her cult starts before Nor enters this world, but her thirst for power grows greater after her novel becomes instantly popular through a YouTube video. She is horrifyingly manipulative, sadistic, and will stop at nothing to gain ultimate control. It is incredibly interesting how Walton interweaves Nor’s nightmares into the reality of Fern’s monstrous murder sprees. It’s scary and heart-stopping.

Villain Scale: 5

There is some romance in this novel, but it is not the focus and I greatly appreciated that. I felt that if Nor had become hopelessly in love with someone then it would have ruined her own journey of strength and overcoming her fears. Reed seems very sweet, but I wasn’t really all that in to him and Nor. There was also a trope that I greatly despise: the let’s make out/kiss before I go into battle trope. I hate this trope with a fiery passion, but surprisingly it occurred with a character that Nor had a lot of tension with and I thought from the beginning that they would wind up together.

Swoon Worthy Scale: 3.25

My favorite character is hands down, Savvy. She is an enduringly fun character with a fro that always changes colors and is not afraid to speak her truth. She is light and a nice contrast to Nor’s darkness for the majority of the novel. They contrast each other’s as best friends so nicely. I was also a fan of Judd and Apothia, Nor’s great-grandmother and grandmother. I just wish that there was more development and conversations between all of them.

Character Scale: 4

Overall, I highly recommend this novel to fans of witches and Walton’s prose style. I think that this will be popular with a lot of readers and I’m so glad that I enjoyed it. Also, I want a sequel because that epilogue left so much to be desired for the world and the aftermath of the havoc Fern wreaked upon humanity.

Plotastic Scale: 5

Cover Thoughts: I love this cover! I love it even more after knowing how evil Fern is and the use of the fern plants. *shivers*

Thank you, Netgalley and Candlewick, for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Wendy.
169 reviews23 followers
March 23, 2018
I received this book from NetGalley and Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review.

Nor Blackburn is a witch. A cursed witch. She is the descendant of Rona Blackburn, a powerful witch that was one of the first settlers of Anathema island. Unfortunately for Rona, she was not welcome among the other settlers and as revenge she cast a curse that ended up backfiring and affecting her bloodline. The Blackburn women now have to live with the curse that affects both their magic, and their love life.

Nor Blackburn is your not-so-average 16 year old who wants nothing more than to be anonymous. She didn't as for her powers (or "burden" as she likes to refer to it) or to be part of the Blackburn curse. Her wishes of living a quiet life come crashing when her estranged mother releases a book titled The Price Guide to the Occult. As her mother's popularity grows, Nor can't shake the feeling that something terrible is about to happen.

My thoughts:

I really loved the writing of this book. I really enjoyed The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavander and this book was just as beautiful to me. This definitely felt like some modern fairytale. The way that the island was described and the characters really pulled me in and kept me captivated. I do have to say though that the main reason that I could not give this book a perfect review was because there were so many loose ends. At this point I am not sure if this book will be part of a series, but I sure hope it is. I was left with so many questions! I definitely want to know more about certain characters and the consequences of the many things that transpired throughout the book.

I think that Leslye Walton has an amazing gift of creating characters and worlds that are so otherworldly and fairytale-like but she is able to make them seem plausible in our world. I definitely enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone that is a fan of magical realism.

Please be aware that there are strong themes of self harm throughout the book.
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
April 11, 2018
Contains sensitivities such as abuse, post traumatic stress disorder and self harm.

Flames consumed Anathema Island as the Blackburn matriarch retaliated against the patriarchal society, men who colonised the small north western island. Accusations of witchcraft coincide with eight generations of Blackburn women, blighted abominations including the estranged Fern Blackburn.

Abandoned by her neglectful and abusive mother, Nor Blackburn is a wonderful young woman, friend and granddaughter, her grandmother and her partner creating a nurturing and environment. Although Nor is supported within a fostering environment, she continues to endure the torment and violence of her mother, comforted upon the harm she inflicts upon her body. Her anxiety is palpable and as the youngest Blackburn daughter, she was a causality of abuse and family violence.

The legacy of each Blackburn child is her ability, each generation fostering aptitudes from their matriarch. The village smouldered as the lineage is condemned to isolation, each Blackburn woman enchanting a lover for three days of passion to produce an heir. Fern Blackburn was consumed by her unwilling suitor, using incantations and her daughter as a blood sacrifice as entrapment. Fern has returned from isolation with The Price Guide to the Occult, monetising the Blackburn legacy, amassing a congregation of loyal disciples and darkness is descending upon Anathema Island.

The mysticism is captivating, predestined to isolation through the legacy of their matriarch. The Blackburn name continues to be a formidable presence throughout the Pacific Northwest Islands. Unfortunately the narrative is incomplete. Characters are introduced without significance to the narration and despite the compelling compensation, the characterisation is rudimentary and the narration becomes monotonous.

Although I enjoyed aspects of the narration, The Price Guide to the Occult is an exasperating novel. Unfortunately not for me.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,137 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.