First thanks to Edelweiss and HarperTeen for allowing me to read an e-galley of this. I have to say I enjoyed another pretty original YA story. I’m glad to be reading books that are not the same old repeat of a YA dystopia or paranormal romance or vampire story, etc. It’s nice to find something that is so refreshingly new, or at least different.
The main character is Sterling. As the story starts, her brother Phineas has stormed off into the swamp after almost hitting her in anger. And he doesn’t come back. Now this isn’t unusual for their town, the swamp has lots of stories about it. In fact a long time ago, Sterling’s grandfather and the rest of the town built a fence around the swamp to both keep people out, as well as to keep the swamp from spreading and taking more people. A few hours later a girl comes walking out of the swamp. And she walks right into Sterling’s house, and all of a sudden it is as if she has always been there, has always been Sterling’s sister Lenora May. But Sterling knows different, even if everyone around her seems to have completely forgotten her brother, and also accepts or takes part in these memories of Lenora. Sterling is so torn up about this, she was already upset that her brother Phin was going to go away to school and leave her alone. You see when they were younger, they’d had a father who beat them. Phin had always done his best to protect his younger sister, and she just can’t imagine life without him. So much that she hadn’t been eating much, to the point that it was a big concern to Sterling’s family and friends. But now even her friends and mother don’t seem to remember Phin, and she keeps searching for someone. Turns out there is someone out there, a boy who’d she’d almost went out on a date with a while back. Until something happened to him, and he changed, became withdrawn, and people said maybe he was on drugs.
This boy is named Heath, and Heath also lost someone to the swamp, his best friend Nathan. Together they are able to talk and try to remember their loved ones, as well as try to figure out if they might be able to get their loved ones back. It is during this that they will seek out the help of one of the oldest people in the community, the one who has been writing down all the stories about the swamp that have sold in books throughout the year. But at first she doesn’t really want to help, just tells Heath and Sterling to keep away from the swamp and forget their crazy ideas. They also must determine if Lenora May is someone evil who has taken Sterling’s brother and used him to get out of the swamp selfishly. Or is there actually something else in the swamp that is after Lenora May, that is really the evil that is trapping people in the swamp.
I liked how we didn’t necessarily know that people had been taken throughout the story without paying close attention to changes in the people around them. Sometimes it would be right in front of me as I read, but I didn’t catch on until Sterling would notice. I love how the story went, I love the way the “magic” or in this case it was kind of called the “shine” worked. Such a really great story. The romance part was sweet, and I smiled at the banter between Sterling and Heath, during the moments they weren’t too sad about their lost loved ones. It had a great ending, a great way to wrap the whole story up, even with the loss of some people that I’d grown to like, or want to see get another chance.