Published: August 4th 2009
Details: Hardcover, 368 pages
My rating: DNF
Don’t waste your time. It had a good premise about a girl who is sent to strange and haunting private school Wyldcliffe and meets mysterious boy. But the writing is poor, the characters one-dimensional and the plot predictable and full of holes. I never got into the story, and couldn’t care less what happened, not even towards the end. Possibly ok for teens under 15.
Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies, housed in a Gothic mansion on the bleak northern moors, is elite, expensive, and unwelcoming. When Evie Johnson is torn away from her home by the sea to become the newest scholarship student, she is more isolated than she could have dreamed. Strict teachers, snobbish students, and the oppressive atmosphere of Wyldcliffe leave Evie drowning in loneliness.
Evie’s only lifeline is Sebastian, a rebellious, mocking, dangerously attractive young man she meets by chance. As Evie’s feelings for Sebastian grow with each secret meeting, she starts to fear that he is hiding something about his past. And she is haunted by glimpses of a strange, ghostly girl—a girl who is so eerily like Evie, she could be a sister. Evie is slowly drawn into a tangled web of past and present that she cannot control. And as the extraordinary, elemental forces of Wyldcliffe rise up like the mighty sea, Evie is faced with an astounding truth about Sebastian, and her own incredible fate.
Gillian Shields’s electrifying tale will dazzle readers with suspense, mysticism, and romance.
I feel terrible for what I am about to say, but there’s no way around it. I did not like this book.
I actually had a bad feeling about this one only one or two chapters in. It starts with the heroine Evie arriving to Wyldcliffe boarding school, and in the first two chapters her background information is thrown in, meaning all the events leading up to her being sent there are explained in between the lines. Usually that type of info is weaved into the story so that I hardly even notice it’s there. Here it was done in such a clunky way that it felt as if lights went on blinking – background info coming!! – every time anything was added, detaching me from the story because of the sheer clunkiness of it.
But I kept reading..don’t ask me why but I did.
About the plot. Well, it has been done before. Girl arrives at a boarding school after the loss (or sickness) of a family member, only to find out that things are not what they seem at said school. She meets a handsome boy with a dark mysterious past. Somehow all the secrets (of the school and the boy) are linked to her past, and most likely also linked to the dead (or sick) family member.
Even though the plot is a far cry from original it could have been saved with good characterization and writing. This is where it falls short. Now, firstly let me explain: I don’t have the best skills in determining the writing in a book. Usually it goes something like this: “Wow this is something I know I could never achieve myself = great writing” or “Hmm this is something I could have written myself = pretty bad writing”.
This book however (and take into account folks that I am not a writer nor an English native speaker), I could have written better had I tried it myself. It was that bad!! Some phrases had me literally cringing. Not once did I feel it transported me into the story, rather, the writing made me detach from the story as I couldn’t help but notice how awkwardly some sentences were put together.
On top of this, the characters were one-dimensional cut-out from cardboard, with one personality trait each, if even that. I had no interest whatsoever in Evie, the heroine as she had no personality. Her so-called epic romance with the mysterious Sebastian could not hold my attention either. Their romance was all telling and no showing. They were supposedly so in love, yet I didn’t feel it anywhere, not even the slightest.
Also, it didn’t help that I knew where the story was heading as early as a third into the book – no surprises there. Needless to say, I had a hard time finishing this book. In fact, I didn’t. I quit with only a few chapters left. That, if anything, is saying something about how badly executed it was.
If you want to read a similar book, but better accomplished in terms of writing, read “A Great and Terrible Beauty” by Libba Bray. But whatever you do, don’t waste your time on this one. There are so many much better books out there.