You always hear the saying Don't Judge a Book by the Cover. I'll make the admission, silly as it is, that it was the cover that made me select this book. I don't think I've ever before begun a book review by rhapsodizing about the cover art, but this was just fabulous art. The cover artist is to be commended.
Now to the story...
The book started out well. Celia was an interesting character, a loner and outsider who becomes part of a mysterious group at her new school. Suddenly, she has friends, style, and seems somewhat above the rest of the students at Suburban High. The book presents an extremely interesting complication of music, art and literature. The mysterious group seems like just the group you would want to belong to. Quickly, though, Celia realizes that things at Suburban High are not normal. Terrible things are happening to girls the day before their sixteenth birthday - and Celia's birthday is coming up in April.
Unfortunately, after that interesting start, the book falls apart a bit. The Rosary (that interesting group) really isn't all that interesting. As you read, you soon realize that far from being the cool kids that everyone wants to be a part of, The Rosary is simply a group of outcasts who have banded together. No one looks up to them or envies them. In fact, most people seem to think they are rather odd and rather arrogant.
And the terrible things that happen to girls before their sixteenth birthday? Well, they can all be avoided if the girls just lose their virginity prior to that date.
The book gives us two opposing factions. The Kind (good magical people) and the UnKind (bad magical people). Oddly, for me, the lines between the two were kind of blurred. Some of the things done by the kind seemed rather shady to me. And some of the things done by the UnKind seem almost a caricature of villainy.
In fact, when the villain of the piece is finally revealed, they go through the whole "before I kill you I'm going to wax poetic about my villainous plan for a couple of pages so that the author can explain why I did what I did" thing. Oof!
In spite of the above, the author shows a lot of promise. The book needs tightening and direction, but has a certain attractive dark edge about it. I would be interested in reading more from the author and would be interested in a follow up to this book.
A note to parents: The whole losing your virginity aspect of the book can be a bit much and I'm not certain I'd want my niece (who is in this age group) to read this. It also takes on the point of bullying as well as a ton of speculation as to which fifteen year old girls are virgins and which aren't. While there are ways to handle the subject of teen sex well, this one didn't sit as well. It really becomes a major plot point in the novel. There are a few token references to only doing it when you're in love or when it's right for you, but most of the characters in the book seem to be very blasé about it. Just a note.