Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Lana Popović
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Set against the beautiful landscapes of Lana Popović's summer home of Montenegro, this novel tells the story of twins Iris and Malina. Since an early age, the girls have had a gleam, a magic trait specific to themselves. While Malina's musical gleam has flourished, Iris's gift of creating visual fractals has gone dormant. Her only abilities at the age of seventeen is to "bloom" flowers into fractals that only she can see. Life with their mother, Jasmina, is difficult since she has become austere and hard on her daughters. However, everything changes when Jasmina is attacked and her spirit becomes stuck, hovering between life and death as if it cannot escape her mangled body. The sisters travel to their mother's home, where they find an entire family waiting for them: a line of immortal witches, dating back thousands of years. They are told of a sacrifice that twins each generation must make in order to appease the personification of death. They must sift through the many stories they are told in order to save each other, however a twist ending leads to a sequel novel.
This story is not what you would expect. It goes from a charming story of magic with the mother as the villain, to a murder mystery, to the mysteries of the family coven. While the story line has many turns and changes, the story actually flows fairly well. Occasionally, certain elements are forgotten and brought back later. Similarly, in the last third of the novel, it's almost hard to keep up with the history of the witch coven since the twins are sifting through information so quickly. Normally, this kind of mystery would last an entire novel, however the fast pace does entice the reader into the magic in the chateau of the coven. While this novel essentially has three separate sections of the story, the overriding theme is the meaning of life and beauty, as well as the bonds of family and sisterhood, and the importance of love. Overall, it is a dense, yet enjoyable read.
*Contains severe language, moderate sexual content, and mild teenage drug use