Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: October 28, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions. Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead."Barrie Watson has hit a rock bottom. Her mother has died and her caretaker, Mark, is now dying from cancer. Mark sends her off to her mother's sister, Aunt Pru, to ensure she has a stable family home. Her Aunt Pru lives on a Southern plantation in South Carolina, which is very different than the life she is used to in San Francisco. Barrie is interested in her family's past though and she is hoping her aunt can answer some questions about the fire that took her fathers life and led to her mother's disfiguring facial scars. But getting answers is tougher than she thought and there are many secrets on South Carolina's Watsons Island, especially when it comes to the founding families, the Watsons, the Beauforts, and the Colesworth. The three founding family's history is entwined along with a very old curse. Due to this curse, Barrie has the ability to find lost items and this "gift" has become even stronger now that she has moved to Watson's Island. To add to the drama, she met family friend, Eight Beaufort, who simultaneously drives her nuts and charms her. Barrie is also dying to meet her cousin, Cassie Colesworth, even if her aunt and Eight say not to trust her. Martina Boone's debut, Compulsion, is the kind of Southern Gothic I love. There's a beautiful setting, family feuds, a slow burning romance, curses and a touch of paranormal. Highly recommended for fans of romance, Southern gothic, and the paranormal genre.
How could I not instantly feel for Barrie in Compulsion? Her mother has died and her mother's best friend and godfather is in hospice. So, now she finds herself living on a historic plantation with an aunt she has never met. To make matters worse, her mother never really told her about her life at Watson Island, so she has no clue what to expect.
Thankfully, Barrie has Eight Beaufort to clue her in on things, but getting him to answer a question completely and honestly is going to be harder than she thought. Eight is the kind of boy I love in a young adult novel. He's a genuinely good guy and their romance is a slow burn, which really worked in Compulsion. Plus, Eight has his own "special power" due to the family curse, which I thought was a nice touch. All in all, I am definitely a fan of Barrie and Eight.
The setting was to-die-for in Compulsion. Seriously. Can I live there? I absolutely loved Watson Island and Boone did a wonderful job bringing a southern summer to life. I was completely enthralled with the huge plantation Barrie lived on filled with dusty rooms, locked drawers, hidden tunnels, and sprawling balconies. Plus, there's the eerie Fire Carrier who visits the plantation every night and the yunwi (spirits) who watch over the plantation. It was so atmospheric and creepy! I can't say enough about the lush plantation, the decaying mansions, and the spirits that lurk every corner…it was right up my alley.
As I mentioned before, there are many paranormal elements in Compulsion and while I found a few things to be a little over the top (some of the scenes with the Fire Carrier); overall, it was done very well. I liked how Barrie had a special power of finding lost items and it reminded me a bit of The Body Finder in that sense. Ultimately, Barrie has to figure out her family secrets and I loved how the spirits were trying to communicate the truth to her. It definitely kept me in suspense.
Simply put, I am a fan of Compulsion and can't wait to continue with the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy. I love all things Southern Gothic and Boone didn't disappoint. In fact, this book will find its way on my "Best of 2014 list" for sure.