Violet Sterling has spent the last seven years in exile, longing to return to Burleigh House. One of the six great houses of England, Burleigh’s magic always kept the countryside well. And as a child, this magic kept Violet happy, draping her in flowers while she slept, fashioning secret hiding places for her, and lighting fires on the coldest nights to keep her warm.
Everything shattered, though, when her father committed high treason trying to free Burleigh from the king’s oppressive control. He was killed, and Vi was forced into hiding.
When she’s given a chance to go back, she discovers Burleigh has run wild with grief. Vines and briars are crumbling the walls. Magic that once enriched the surrounding countryside has turned dark and deadly, twisting lush blooms into thorns, poisoning livestock and destroying crops. Burleigh’s very soul is crying out in pain.
Vi would do anything to help, and soon she finds herself walking the same deadly path as her father all those years before. Vi must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her house—before her house destroys everything she’s ever known.
Content warnings are available via the author's website.
Laura Weymouth is a Canadian living in America, and the sixth consecutive generation of her family to immigrate from one country to another. Born and raised in the Niagara region of Ontario, she now lives at the edge of the woods in western New York, along with her husband, two wild-hearted daughters, and an ever-expanding menagerie of animal friends.
i honestly cant remember how i heard about this new release, but i managed to find a free copy, so i may as well read it, right? and having gone into this story with really no expectations, im actually quite happy with it. was i blown away by it? no, not really. but there is much to appreciate about this.
its quick and light to read. the narrative does tend to be a bit repetitive at times - mainly due to the lack of in-depth world building, so there is only so far the plot can go - but theres an easy flow to how its written, with some atmospheric tendencies.
the characters are also likeable. they can be pretty one-dimensional at times, and i feel like i tolerated violet more than i actually liked her, but what really got me is wyn. im an absolute sucker for childhood sweethearts, so you know i was 100% on board the vi and wyn train.
but the absolute highlight of this book is the originality of the story concept. living, breathing, magical estates in the english country that require caretakers to manage them is a wildly imaginative idea. i just wish the execution did it a little better justice.
overall, this is a pretty decent read. not my favourite, but still enjoyable!
Interesting synopsis but sadly lacking in execution. I was skimming by the end.
Violet’s family home is Burleigh House. One of the great houses who have their own magic and a mind of their own. Her father was the caretaker of Burleigh, but after he is convicted of treason Violet is forced to move away while her father and his ward (her best friend) remain exiled in the house.
Years later Violet plans to return to her family home. To complete her fathers work and become the caretaker she was born to be.
But Burleigh has grown unruly and out of control over the years. And the king will do whatever it takes to control Violet. Has she got what it takes?
A good enough concept but the characters were way too one sided and the house magic itself wasn’t entirely explained so I lost interest by the end.
My issue with A TREASON OF THORNS is that I found the best parts of it to be in the synopsis.
The tightly framed concept sounds fantastic in short form but loses itself in drawn out translation. The characters are underdeveloped, the romance is.. a stretch, and the plot itself feels like it's just spinning its wheels until it reaches a certain word count. It's repetitive both in tone and vocabulary and, ultimately, just stuck in one gear.
This is such a fascinating idea, and the author made it complex enough to be believable, but then dropped the ball by explaining very little. It still had the potential to be outstanding, though, and while I did like some the imagery, and the resonance of emotion Violet felt through her connection to the House, again, it just.. didn't really work. It might make a great movie, though, if you had visuals to focus on and an actress who could pull of the range of emotions that I don't think felt at all believable, or fully formed, from the MC.
I've now had two very perplexing reactions to Weymouth's first and second novels and I'm realizing that she just might not be for me.
** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
So basically there’s this magic house. It needs a “caretaker” who idk....channels the house’s magic so it doesn’t build up too much? The house gets pissed a lot. And the floor rumbles its constant protest and misery.
And there’s a girl. She grew up in the house with her father’s ward, a boy. She loves the house very much. It’s her life’s ambition to become the next caretaker after her father. She’s extremely attached to the house and vice-Versa.
The plot is basically only about this. The house rumbles and trails vines around from....idk...somewhere and shows some memories and lights fires in the hearth and the girl is just trying to get the rights to the house that was taken away.
And that was about it up to 150 pages in.
The characters were flat. Initially I assumed her father’s ward was going to be this awesomely dark and mysterious character (my favorite). But no, his character was undeveloped, flat and flighty. He and the mc were like inseparable as children but when they finally reunite years later it’s completely anticlimactic and disappointing. If that was an attempt at “mysterious”...it’s not working here. I’m not intrigued. He’s just dull, they are dull and there’s just nothing.
Holy crap! This book was so freaking good. I honestly don't remember when I bought the audio version of this - it might've been during on of their sales? No idea but definitely glad that I have it.
In A Treason of Thorns, you will meet Violet. All she ever wanted was to return back to Burleigh house. Unfortunately for her, her father committed treason and she has been on the run since. Besides her dad living out his punishment, her childhood friend is tagged along with him. Honestly, I never really understood why Wyn was being punished as well but maybe it was because everyone thought that she would come back for him? No idea, but it definitely pulled my heart strings.
Other than that, the romance and mystery throughout this book kept this a page turner. I, of course, had my ship but didn't really know what would happen once Violet made a very important decision. During some parts of this book, I kept thinking back to Divergent - due to the whole faction over blood thing. It definitely drew me further into the book which is a plus for me.
In the end, I really enjoyed how everything played out in this book. I do wish it wasn't a standalone though.
Finally, a book that utilises my niche passion for English stately homes.
A TREASON OF THORNS is a beautiful book set in an alternate England where Great Houses channel magic through the land. It's a really cool and unique idea that ties in neatly to my nerdy love of English stately homes, so there was no way I could not be invested.
I loved Weymouth's debut THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS, and this has a similar quintessentially British vibe to it. Weymouth builds up Burleigh House (also I keep writing Burghley House and then having to correct myself, but the joke of the similarity between the names is even in the novel so I loved that) and the surrounding area beautifully. It is more of a fairytale-esque novel; it has a lack of worldbuilding in places and I would have liked to have seen more development, but it gets away with it because the fairytale vibes prop it up.
I was very fond of the central cast of characters: Violet and Wyn, Espie and Alfred. Violet was a great heroine to follow, Wyn was soft, Alfred was also soft, and Espie was actually my favourite. Weymouth's male characters are just soft, lol. I love it.
I've seen criticisms that the pacing was a little on the slow side - personally I wasn't overly affected by this, but perhaps it did falter a little in the middle. Though I did have to put this book down in the middle for a while to catch up on work, I had no problems getting back in.
All in all, I thought this was an easy read and I really enjoyed it. I do think it's one of those books where you can say there was potential for more, but nevertheless it also works well as it currently stands. Laura Weymouth's ideas continue to intrigue me, and I look forward to her next work.
TL;DR: An easily-read YA fantasy standalone about magical Great Houses set in an alternate England, this one is sure to appeal to fans of quintessentially British-esque fairytale fantasy.
My anticipation for A Treason of Thorns has been built to a feverish pitch ever since I first saw the cover reveal back in February!! I LOVED The Light Between Worlds, Laura Weymouth's debut novel and it became my #1 read for 2018. As A Treason of Thorns was also magical realism + historical + English setting I was so, so dying to read it. Then Laura contacted me to send me one of her ARCs (as her #1 fangirl!) and I was on 7th heaven. When the post office didn't deliver the book I felt like I was on the edge of a cliff about to spiral into the abyss of despair. So by the time I received the second copy my expectations were high... like mega-high.
And look at the cover of A Treason of Thorns!!! It totally deserves to take up space on EVERYONE's bookshelf for beauty alone. And the design and title are so spot on for the story. It's creepy, dark and full of betrayal... If you're attracted to the cover and title then you will enjoy the book!
A Treason of Thorns is about a sentient house and the young girl who was very willing to put Burleigh House first (before family, before king and country and even before love) in order to become its caretaker. Vi comes back from exile to find Burleigh run wild and the countryside dying due to its magical kickback. She finds the boy from her childhood grown and bitter, his relationship with the house dark and twisted. I LOVE this premise!! It's rare to find a story where an inanimate object is alive... but it sounds super great, right?!
Are your expectations as high as mine too?! A Treason of Thorns delivers on so many points...
-The sentient house was nailed to perfection. I especially loved its morally grey nature. How it expected its residents to put it first, to sacrifice whatever was needful to it.
-The history about the magic of the great houses was stellar and fleshed out the different outcomes that Vi was trying to prevent. It upped the stakes!
-Vi's memory mining to try to piece together her father's hunt for the deed. This is one of my favorite things that Burleigh was able to do.
-The magical moments. No spoilers but Burleigh is more than sentient, it's magical too. I loved the idea of mortar and the different ways it came out in A Treason of Thorns.
-Vi's loved ones were spot on! I won't expose them all but from her father's old servants who were like beloved grandparents to new friends, like a certain princess... I loved them and how Vi relied on them and they in turn influenced her.
-Wyn! He gets his own category. He was my favorite part of the mystery. I like that he’s secretive and angry and you aren't sure if its at Burleigh, her father or Vi.
As you can see the world building was truly incredible. I really loved the world of the 6 great houses and would actually welcome a companion novel (though I'm not adverse to reading ANYTHING Laura Weymouth writes!) I was so satisfied at Vi's decision in the end; my worst fear was averted after learning about her father's choices. A Treason of Thorns is poignant nevertheless... I like that about Weymouth... its never a straight up gooey happy ending but true to those who have to make hard choices and live in the real world.
While I enjoyed A Treason of Thorns it didn't blow me away. I recommend it, okay? TBH I thought Laura Weymouth would kill this premise... and it is super creative. But its not my top book of the year like I hoped it would be. I just wasn't as wowed by the execution of A Treason of Thorns as I was The Light Between Worlds.
Part of my struggle was that I wasn't buying the king. He's made out to be this straight up evil dude and it didn't make sense to me. It didn't mesh with the end and his motivations were a mess. It would have been better if he were morally grey like the house. Small shifts and he'd have added a lot to A Treason of Thorns. Laura is a hidden master at morally grey characters and I would have welcomed a masterful opponent to Burleigh. However if you like your villains evil through and through then you won't be bothered by this.
The romance left a lot to be desired this time. In The Light Between Worlds the girls being in love didn't really have anything to do with the plot. It was a great secondary benefit of the story and thus didn't need to stand up to heavy scrutiny (in other words it could be portrayed in light strokes). For A Treason of Thorns that doesn't work. How Vi feels about Wyn is VITAL to her struggle and motivations. And you don't keep loving the boy you knew at 8 after 7 years have past. Your old feelings could jumpstart new feelings but we needed many and varied moments to believe. And those moments weren't strong enough to bear the weight of the romance's role.
I loved the idea that at the heart of A Treason of Thorns is Vi's relationship with her father. It was made very clear that to Vi her mother was a traitor. So it made her father that much more important to her. I liked the idea of seeing the human side to her father, but I didn't buy how it was executed. We needed to see him with Wyn before, during and after and we only saw after. We learned about during but I felt rather distant from it (though it was horrifying). There wasn't the foreshadowing I needed to believe he was as Vi learned he was at the end.
It sounds like I'm trashing A Treason of Thorns. I'm not honest. I do recommend it! However it was hard not to compare it to The Light Between Worlds that blew me away. And Laura Weymouth is such an excellent story teller and writer that it makes it easier for me to spot small things that would have made the book perfect to me.
If you love the title and cover for A Treason of Thorns then you'll love the book!! What you see is what you get... creepy, gorgeous, dangerous and prone to draw blood. You'll never regret picking up a Laura Weymouth book!! And I can't wait to read what she has for us next...
⋆ ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style ⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building A+ Cover & Title grade
Thanks to the author and HarperTeen for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions.
______________________ You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. Read my special perspective under the typewriter on my reviews...
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Violet Sterling's dream was to become the best caretaker to one of the magical houses in England, just like her father. Life was good for Violet; she was God-daughter of the king, her father was well known and respected, she was on the way to success herself. Then her mother left, and her father was found guilty of treason and sentenced to death. Then, the magical house, Burleigh, dying, which spells devastating consequences for the whole countryside. Then there is the matter of the king, who holds the deed to Burleigh, giving Violet a mandate to return Burleigh to its former health by the end of the summer, or he will burn the house to the ground. Violet must choose between her lifetime devotion to the house, her obligation to care for Burleigh, the house, and her love for Wyn, a boy she'd known and loved for most of her life. The mechanics of the writing was great, the world-building, the character depth, the story idea etc. But, the story itself was dry; it felt too long even though I couldn't find anything wrong with it. Great story, but maybe not my style. 2.5 stars.
Magical, mystical, enchanting, and with a setting that will sweep you back to old England, A Treason of Thorns will keep you engaged from the beginning clear to the action packed ending.
Legends and lore, magical bindings, endearing stories of home, both those we are born to and those we create, and becoming who we want to be rather than what is expected of us, A Treason of Thorns was beautifully done with effortless writing that was every bit as wonderful and emotional and it is magical.
*ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Laura always has the best book covers, hands down. This one is absolutely stunning, the colors, detailing, it draws your eyes and leaves you starstruck. A Treason of Thorns is hands down one of the most unique books that I have read in a long time, dark, mysterious and utterly unique A Treason of Thorns will have you entranced until the very last page.
When Violet was a child her father, the caretaker of Burleigh house was accused of high treason and sentenced to spend the rest of his days in Burleigh house, without his key that helps him channel the house magic forcing himself to channel house magic through himself. Burleigh is one of the six Great Houses in the country and it's magic keeps the land healthy and prosperous. Violet and the house servants are exiled, but Wyn, Violet's childhood friend is forced the face the sentence with her father. Ripped from everything she has ever known Violet must learn a new way of life. In the years leading up to this Violet's father taught her the ways of the house, so when he passed on she would become Burleigh's caretaker. Only Burleigh house is failing and Violet only has the summer to prove that she can save her beloved house before it is destroyed by her Godfather, the King. Full of mystery, a determined girl and a bitter sweet romance A Treason of Thorns is a book that will stay with you long after you finish it.
The magic system and the Houses in this book is amazing.The complexity of it, but described in ways that doesn't make it confusing at all, Weymouth did an amazing job in keeping me intrigued and wanting to know more about Burleigh House and the magic surrounding it. Burleigh's personality is one that is quite unique. The House does respond to its surroundings and does what it can to help Violet and keep her safe. It's temperamental and its moods change in the flash of an eye. I think Weymouth did a great job giving something as inanimate as a house its only personality and characterization, especially when it is the main focus of this book.
I really enjoyed Violet's character. From page one she shows her dedication to her Burleigh. Nothing comes before the House, not even family. Upon returning to her beloved home it is in shambles and Violet is determined to save it before it is too late. As she works on repairing her relationship with Wyn, she teams up with the most unlikeliness of partners to do what needs to be done. The only way to save Burleigh house is to find it's deed, the very crime that her father was punished for.
Overall I really enjoyed A Treason of Thorns. This book lived up to every expectation I had and more. Weymouth's prose is beautiful and will suck her readers in. I can't recommend this book enough. So please, pick it up and read it!
So when people say "I'd read this author's grocery list," Laura is that author for me. The writing in this (and The Light Between Worlds) is just so luxurious. It just pulls me in so I feel all of the world and connect with the characters with each step of their development. Her writing is PERFECT for Gothic fantasies and histories. Her and Lyndsay Faye have such iconic writing with that tone and I just cannot get enough of their stuff (literally. I've read basically all of their publications I can get my hands on). Now that I've read this the day after it came out, I'm in this horrible position (same one I'm in with Moïra Fowley-Doyle). Please join me: 1. find an author early in their career 2. read all their books. 3. complain there are no more books 4. then complain when you find an author that you're 10 books behind on and decide to not event try and catch up on those.
We need to discuss what witchcraft (Laura called it "soup magic" on Twitter), Laura Weymouth has been doing to get 2 of the most gorgeous book covers known to man. They're both stunning on my bookshelves but they also are wonderful representations of the content itself.
As I expected from this, Violet's whole story just continuously crushed me. She has a wonderful heart but has been put in a terrible position. I felt everything she did and wanted to fight most of the other characters in her honor. The weird situations of Burleigh and it's unbinding throughout the whole book was a bit confusing to me at times but it all wrapped together beautifully at the end. All that confusion was like -0.5 stars but then she threw in multiple timelines and earned like 500 stars back. That's how I rate, okay? Deal with it!
I was expecting the ending to be as devastating to me as The Light Between Worlds (for real, read that book if you haven't. It's amazing.). Now the ending was by NO means happy but it didn't leave me scream crying for answers the way The Light Between Worlds did. I don't know that she can ever write something as amazing as that book for me (especially since it was also a surprise as hell amazing debut). I would LOVE for this world to be expanded on in companion novels. There's other houses in England, there's the origin story of the houses being bound in England AND there's houses bound all over the world in different manners (discussed in the book). I would throw so much money at the publisher for that content!
Come for the dark Gothic fantasy magic in England. Stay cause Burleigh grew ivy and locked you in.
“What if we don’t have to be what we were told to become?”
I think this is the central question of A Treason of Thorns, a book about the roles we’re born to play and the ones we choose for ourselves. Just as in her debut The Light Between Worlds, Weymouth beautifully explores our longing for home, especially a home that has been lost or changed. But the novel is also a hopeful rumination on the homes we choose for ourselves and the love we pour into them.
In addition to its compelling themes, the premise of A Treason of Thorns is totally original, the setting is immersive, the prose is beautiful, and characters are likeable. The ending is deeply satisfying, and I finished it with the best sort of tears.
Bonus points for a sentient house, a gothic atmosphere, a brave main character, and a sweet romance.
I'm a bit torn when it came time to rate this book. Overall, I enjoyed the story and the characters but I did find that I started to get a bit bored and just wanted some action to happen. I also found myself confused at times with the magical elements of the house and between the binding and unbinding and what happened to this house or that house...I kind of just zoned out.
I especially enjoyed the side characters but would have liked them to be a bit more prevalent in the story since they really helped set the story.
Sigh... I...don't know... What do I say about a sentinel House that is alive, lives and breathes, has a heart with memories, and is magical ? What do I say about a House whose caretaker was to be Violet, but where her father altered everything so she could be spared?
What do I say about the author Laura E. Waymouth whose imagination brought out a fantastical plot of a House working its magic via a caretaker who had the key? Just BRILLIANT!! House and mortar made their foray...
Violet was supposed to be the caretaker of Burleigh House after her father's death, but the King, in his love for games, prevented just that. Father was accused to treason, and Violet was exiled for 7 years. When she returned, she had the whole summer to renew the House without being the caretaker, as ordered by the King or the house would be ash. Stones and mortar would crumble away...
Laura's writing had a rocky edge to it where the crevices formed the pathways of this book. Everything was decided by the House which was the central character. Lives revolved around it trying to save it from itself and its destructive magic. Complexities of the magic was the way of life in Burleigh House where memories hid the truth. Magic and mortar held the sway...
The author took a different route while etching Violet's character. She was beautiful and kindhearted, but her first love was always the House. She had the power to sift through the House's memories to find the clues. Warm, loving characters surrounded her, and help was given to her from unexpected corners. Wyn was central to all that and more. His life source filled the crevices of the House, and his love filled the heart. Blood and mortar laid the way...
Soon that led to my niggles too. The magical system, though alluring initially, grew repetitive when told oft times. The magic was made to sound more complex than it actually was. Ideas and mortar were the delay...
Overall, the atmosphere of the book was haunting as if the House was waiting for me to enter. There was a sense of welcome on reading the first few pages. The story and writing bound me to the House, the characters, my heart. Words and mortar filled my day...
The premise in A Treason of Thorns is really compelling, but the writing is so weak that it never lives up to the promise of its premise. The characters make decisions that feel unfounded and so the plot feels disjointed and unconvincing. I believed nothing about this book except the vines, because the writing is so stilted and repetitive that I could never buy into it.
The plot is so unconvincing, in fact, that it reads as fantasy teetering on the edge of magical realism: trying to be something where the impossible fits into the story. It doesn’t. I could say this of many things, I suppose, but it’s especially true here: this would be better if it were Patricia McKillip.
One of the main reasons that I requested this book was because I thought that the cover was absolutely gorgeous and the synopsis had me intrigued. I really loved the idea behind this book, a magical house was very cool to read about. While I think that this was a good idea and I enjoyed the writing, I felt like A Treason of Thorns kind of dragged and I was a bit disappointed in it.
I didn't really connect very well with the characters. I felt like Violet didn't have much personality to her and she kind of fell flat to me. I actually wound up enjoying the side characters more than Violet herself. I liked their personalities better and wish that the book was about one of them instead. I did really love that Burleigh, the house, seemed to have her own personality and was truly alive. But for a book that was all about a magical house I think that there weren't enough descriptions of the house itself. I have no idea what the house actually looked like and since the house was at the center of the story that kind of bothered me.
The writing was pretty atmospheric, even though it could have been more descriptive. I feel like the pacing of the book was really slow and I felt as if the book went on forever. It's not that A Treason of Thorns is really long, but very little actually happened in the whole novel. A lot of the book was filler material and the plot could have used a lot more meat to it. The plot was pretty predictable and even the climax wasn't too exciting.
Overall I feel like A Treason of Thorns was okay, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else. I found it very easy to set down and it took me a while to actually finish the book. I think the writing itself was good, but I found myself very bored with the plot and I didn't love the main character. I loved the idea of a magical living house and felt like that aspect was original, but that was one of the few things that I think this novel had going for it. While I did want to read The Light Between Worlds, which is also by Laura E. Weymouth, I think that I might skip it after reading this one.
I really loved this book I liked how unique it was and I really loved the characters I have no idea why anyone would call Violet a Mary-Sue she is one of the best characters I have read about lately. I really love the characters especially Violet and Wyn I loved how their relationship developed from friends to more. These two characters have been through so much they are so self sacrificing for each other they would do anything so the other could survive. They have suffered so much but came out of it better than they were before after it was all over. I really loved the plot it was unique about a sentient house that our main character Violet is trying to save she ends up having to save more than just the house. So overall I really loved this book I would read more by this author.
I loved the story and how original it was.. magical houses all over Great Britain and Europe, whose caretakers channel their magic and help the country thrive. Sounds great! The problem is that there was not backstory to this or to the characters and the narrative was a little repetitive. I liked Vi, but Wyn was the star of the story. Despite the fact that there were enough signs to suggest that he wasn't just another character, he wasn't treated as he was supposed. We have learned almost nothing about his life before or after his coming to the manor, and only in the end we explored more about him. Vi on the other hand, seemed like the most special caretaker, strong and smart and caring, but personally I never really connected to her.
I think that if it was less repetitive with more backstory about the houses and focus was on Wyn, the book could have been great!
Unfortunately A Treason Of Thorns didn't quite have the magic that Laura's first book had, and I really had to force myself to read it, despite loving that it was set in Somerset, where I live.
A big problem that the story had was that I guessed the entire story within just a couple of chapters. The concept of a House being like an old God, and bound by cruel Kings was a great start to what could have been an incredible story, but it wasn't a stretch to guess that Violet would unbind her House, and how she would do it.
Mostly, I was bored. The major events don't happen until the last 80 or so pages, leaving the other 300 for set up and then not much at all. Violet doesn't really do that much towards finding her House's Deed until she really has to, choosing to work at a local tavern instead.
📙 I found Burleigh House more irritating than I should have. Violet barely goes a moment without mentioning her House and it's problems, which I felt for a first but it quickly become repetitive and monotonous. The House truly is like an Old God, with no true love for mortals, so I found it difficult to put myself in Violet's shoes.
📒 There was a lot of mention of the 6th House, which was burnt down, and Violet is referred to as Vi, the roman numeral for 6. These were not connected, so I am unsure if this was deliberate or a coincidence on the author's part.
📓 I was glad to finish the story, but felt that things were tied up too easily, and I didn't feel any real emotion closing the final pages. Wyn never felt like a real person to me, just a vessel for the House and Violet to pour their emotions into, which may have been part of the problem.
This is a gorgeously magical book, with a fierce heroine whose voice I loved. Isabel Sterling is determined to save the House she loves - and the boy she loves, too - and I loved her strength and determination as well as the magical system in which the Great Houses of England are given literal magical powers and individual personalities (but also a subjection to the whims of the king that can BURN). The symbolism is fantastic, and the relationship between Isabel (as would-be Caretaker) and her House, Burleigh, is SO powerful.
The only thing that took away any of my personal enjoyment as I read was that the details of the alternate history never quite lined up for me, speaking as a total history geek/long-time alt-history reader. Personally, I wished that more of that larger history had been given so that I could understand which century this was meant to take place in (alt-17th-century? alt-19th-century? I kept shifting between which era I guessed) and how history as a whole had changed because of this HUGE change in the structure of British society which had also apparently led to a change in the ruling family of England and their European alliances many centuries ago (while still leaving every British place name exactly the same and referring to one of the exact same novels of social satire having been written by the exact same author, which baffled me). However, this is a YA novel, not an adult one, and I cannot imagine any teen readers (or, for that matter, any adult readers who aren't history geeks like me!) being bothered by those very small and niggling questions in the historical worldbuilding.
Far more importantly: I truly loved all of the characters, and Isabel's relationships - with her foster family, with her (wonderful) love interest, with her neighbors, and most of all, with her House, Burleigh, are SO well done, so intense and powerful, that they absolutely carry the book. I cheered for Isabel (and Wyn, her love interest) all the way, and I really enjoyed their story.
This book is ... fine? Yeah, that’s about it. It’s not bad. It’s not great. It just exists, kind of like Burleigh House. It’s one of those books that it takes 3/4 for things to feel like they’re actually moving in the story.
One of my biggest issues with this book is that we’re given such an incredibly limited view on the world. The beginning and premise are so interesting, so promising – but the world building is weak at times. I have so many questions – about the Great Houses and the house magic especially – that I wish were answered, however I feel that we were just meant to smile and nod and understand these things exist and not really question them.
If you’re new to YA or want to read something where the stakes never seem truly dire or fully explained, with characters that don’t question much of the world around them, this would be up your alley. It feels like the kind of book that would be titillating at youth camp, which isn’t a bad thing, but I feel like this book wanted to be darker than it was allowed to be. Additionally, it’s not surprising that Violet’s sole focus is Burleigh House, but it’s a little disappointing that is all the story wants to focus on too. Flat and one-dimensional at best.
I’m also disappointed in Wyn’s character. His back must be sore because he carried this story the whole way, however I feel as though he never lived up to is character’s full potential.
That said (and I know this review isn’t a shining endorsement), I quite liked the way it ended and where it leaves the characters. I just feel as though this story had much more potential, but was stifled at times.
"A good Caretaker puts her House first. Before king. Before country. Before her own life."
This is an eerie story filled with beautiful prose and rich in emotional turmoil.
*eARC provided from HarperTeen and edelweiss*
SUMMARY Violet's family have been the caretakers of Burleigh House for generations. However, when her father commits high treason and is sentenced to death, Violet must flee her House and those she loves. After seven years she is finally able to return, but when she does she sees that her House is in ruin and the magic surrounding it has become corrupt. Violet must find a way to "cure" her House before the King burns it to the ground. However, Violet's devotion to her House begins to cloud her mind and she begins to lose sight of reality. Violet must navigate her heart and save her House before the magic consumes and corrupts her entirely.
REVIEW My favourite part of this novel is the rich imagery and the vivid world Weymouth created. Weymouth managed to create an eerie and magical atmosphere that lasted throughout the entirety of the novel. I could envision Burleigh House in my mind and see the creeping vines and decaying walls. I truly felt like Burleigh was alive and that the House was a palpable living thing. I am truly amazed at the way that Weymouth managed to give life to something society views as inanimate. Through her writing you could feel the pain of the House and Weymouth did a fantastic job at showing you how all the characters and Burleigh were feeling without outright telling you as a reader.
I was constantly intrigued by Wynn and pitied him. He was pushed into a life and served a fate he never wanted, but his steadfast loyalty to Vi had my heartstrings pulling. Both Wynn and Violet are torn between their duty to the House and their hearts - it makes for a compelling story that leaves you constantly wondering what decision they will make. Violet's love for her House teeters on the line of obsession and she begins to lose sight of reality and life. It was so amazing to watch the progression of this story and the pull of Burleigh House. I am in awe of how Weymouth crafted this sentient house.
I think the biggest issue that I had, and the reason this book is just a "solid 3 star", is the fact that there were many times the story felt juvenile. While I was intrigued by the story, I never really cared too much about our main character. You understood Vi and the turmoil she was going through, but I just could not connect with her and that hampered my experience. I wish the characters were more fleshed out because there was a lot of potential for this book to be a 5 star. Also, it didn't bother me too much but I do want to inform that the writing can get a little repetitive in regards to the magic system and the caretakers. However, I believe that this book will be a favourite of a lot of people, it just wasn't for me.
I also received a finished copy, curtsy of the publishers HarperTeen, and BOY is it beautiful. This is easily the most gorgeous cover of 2019.