When River arrives in town, the first thing she really knows is that the Graces are witches. No-one can prove it, but everyone has a story. The whole town is obsessed by the Grace family, and River is no different. The only difference is that River needs it to be true. But where does the real danger lie? In denying the existence of magic altogether like Fenrin Grace? In casting spells in the woods behind the school with Summer Grace? Or in letting it consume you, as Thalia Grace is in danger of doing.
Or maybe the truth that River needs will come from an entirely different quarter.
This book, like the truths within it, is very hard to pin down. River is, like her namesake, a constantly shifting character, bending herself to become whatever she needs to be in order to get close to the Grace siblings. I loved the uncertainty about it. Is the magic real or is it just hysteria? What happened that meant that River and her mother had to move here? We don’t even know River’s real name. What is an illusion, and what is real?
Though I had predicted the ending (the foreshadowing is a little heavy-handed), it didn’t spoil it in the slightest for me – watching everything finally come out in the open was spellbinding. This is a book about ambiguity, about the dangers of believing in the wrong people and the wrong things, and about the damage secrets can do when they unravel. It’s the first in a duology, and I can’t wait to see where the author will take it next.