Tag Archives: magical realism

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published in October 2016 by Thomas Dunne.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via NetGalley. Thank you Thomas Dunne for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: YA magical realism.

My rating:

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town.

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.


When the Moon Was Ours is Anna-Marie’s second novel – I also reviewed her debut, The Weight of Feathers, which I enjoyed a lot. I can say without a doubt that I’ll be reading whatever she writes next because frankly, her writing is beautiful.

When the Moon Was Ours is a book that made me think. It stayed with me for weeks after I’d finished it and it got me to consider questions and topics I’ve never really thought about before, so even if everything else was shit, I’d cherish it for that alone.

Of course, everything else wasn’t shit – I really liked her style. I guess it might be too flowery and full of comparisons for some people, but I mentioned liking Anna-Marie’s writing in my review of The Weight of Feathers already. The fact that she writes magical realism, where the main character, Miel, has roses growing from her wrist, combines perfectly with the unusual metaphors and an almost too-rich language. Her writing is what I imagine synesthesia to be like: a burst of colours, sounds, and flavours.

I loved the characters as well. They were wonderfully diverse and while the outlandish elements of the genre might have made them seem weird (there are four sisters, for example, who basically function as one four-bodied organism – it’s strange), they are surprisingly relatable.

Miel, who lives with her relative Aracely, is an orphan with some bad, repressed memories. She came to live in the town after she was found in the old abandoned water tower (I know, it sounds weird) and her wrist-roses change colour depending on her mood. Super cool.

Sam, the other half of the main couple, is a transgender boy. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with transgender characters before and I really have no way of judging if the representation is accurate – but I think it might be. Very much so, in fact, because the author’s husband is a transgender man and it seems like this topic is incredibly personal to her. The book deals with the topic in this gentle way, but it’s pretty damn eye-opening, too.

All things considered, When the Moon Was Ours is a strong story with important issues and loveable characters. It’s a standalone, which is another plus, and I think it’s well worth reading.


Have you read When the Moon Was Ours? What did you think?

Do you have any magical realism recommendations for me?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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An Ode to The Accident Season


I know some of you will remember my review of Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season from last year. I read the ARC during a summer heat wave, while we were spending an unreasonably hot day by this little river in the forest. It seemed to me at the time that I must have found the perfect moment to read it because I felt it pull me in and hook its claws.

But now I won a paperback in a giveaway and decided to give it a re-read before lending it to a friend, despite the fact that I rarely re-read books so soon (especially if I’m not re-reading because there’s a sequel coming up). And you know what?

It’s still one of the best books I’ve read in the last couple of years.

I don’t even know why I rated it with 4.5 instead of 5 stars (hearts) when I read it, I just know it’s one of the books I’ve been recommending to everyone and if you haven’t read it yet, do yourself a favour and get a copy because it’s fantastic. It made my “best of” list of 2015 and I’ve been thinking about it ever since I read it, which is always a good sign for me. As some of you are well aware, I have terrible book amnesia and forget some books almost instantly. This one stuck with me and it won’t let go.

On the surface (or rather in the beginning), The Accident Season sounds like a teenage paranormal romance but it’s much more complex than that. I love that it’s a standalone and yet manages to have well-developed characters, a heart-breaking plot, and stunning language.

Have I mentioned that it’s also Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s debut novel? I think I have only read one other debut novel that I liked this much – The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab. It was the first book of hers that I read and I can only hope that I’ll continue falling in love with Fowley-Doyle’s books like I did with Schwab’s.

Anyway. I can now safely say that my mood (though otherwise very important when it comes to book choices) had little to do with my loving this book. It’s just a very good young adult novel and I am very glad that I got to read the ARC. I’m also happy I decided on this re-read because I like returning to characters and stories that speak to me.

Moïra’s next novel, which now has a title (!!!!!), Spellbook of the Lost and Found, is supposed to be similar in vibe but completely different in other aspects. I can’t wait to read it! You can find Moïra here: websitetwitterinstagramtumblr.


Have you read The Accident Season? What did you think?

What was the last book that stayed with you like this?

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Published September 2015 by Thomas Dunne.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Thomas Dunne for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: YA magical realism.

My rating:

For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.

Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees.


I went into this story thinking it was a fantasy but was pleasantly surprised when I realised it’s actually better described as magical realism. I haven’t read many books in this genre, but one of my favourites of 2015 was The Accident Season (which I’m sure you’re all sick of hearing about), which is a great mashup of magical realism and fairy stories.

Anyway, The Weight of Feathers is set in California about 30 years ago (?) and is a loose retelling of Romeo and Juliet, though the only real similarity is the enmity of the two families. The misunderstanding that brought along this feud is nearly forgotten and the younger generations don’t even know the specifics – they just keep hating each other because that’s how they were raised. I think this book makes an excellent point on the futility/danger of such hereditary hate – it is difficult to go against everything your family has taught you but sometimes your family might, in fact, be wrong.

Both families, the Palomas and the Corbeaus (if you’re unfamiliar with your bird lore, the first means “doves” and the second “crows”), are performers – the Corbeaus are former tightrope walkers and now stage their shows in trees, wearing magnificent wings that Cluck, the hero of our story, is charged with making and fixing. The Palomas perform in the lake – the girls of the clan dress up as mermaids and do some sort of synchronised swimming show. Lace Paloma has just earned her tail and is very proud to be part of the group. The only part I didn’t understand is why the Palomas were named after birds if they’re actually pretend-mermaids, but yeah, it’s not exactly a deal breaker.

The hate between the families is so deep that the Palomas believe that the touch of a Corbeau brings a terrible curse on the person. The Corbeaus have feathers growing underneath their hair (and Cluck is a runt because his feathers are tinged with red, not uniform black) and Paloma girls have a scaly birthmark that marks them as mermaids – it is said that a touch of a Corbeau feather will make those scales fall off (I KNOW, I’m making this sound way more confusing than it actually is). So when Lace finds a feather imprinted on her skin after Cluck saves her from a chemical accident, she’s banished from the family and set to roam alone (okay so this part was a bit weird). Not one to mope around, Lace infiltrates the Corbeau clan to return the feather to its owner – Cluck – but finds secrets and love instead.

What I liked most, perhaps, was this dreamy quality of the writing. It’s never clear exactly what’s going on, the magical aspects of the two families are half-myth, half-fact, and I would pay good money to be able to see those shows because they sound amazing.

Despite my minor complaints, this was a very enjoyable YA romance. I gave it bonus points for being a stand-alone because this world is littered with series that should have been single books. If you like stories about forbidden love and shy boys that include subtle magic, vintage cars, and mermaids, this might just be the book for you.


Have you read The Weight of Feathers? Does it sound like a book you might enjoy?

Do you have any favourite magical realism books? I’d like to explore the genre and need some recommendations. 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

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The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle

The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle
Published July 2nd/August 18th, 2015 by Corgi Children's.

Links: Goodreads. Amazon. Book Depository. Barnes & Noble.

Source: Publisher via Netgalley. Thank you Corgi Children's for providing me with an e-copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Genre: YA paranormal fantasy/magical realism.

My rating:

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?


Ahh, this book… Where do I start?

I suspect I liked it so much because I read it at a perfect time. I was searching for something new and fresh, a standalone (you know how terrible I am at finishing series) and something with a story I hadn’t read a hundred times before. Reading the second half of the novel while we were spending a day out in the woods, right by a small river that cooled us on an impossibly hot day, probably had something to do with it, too. Sometimes, you read a book and the timing is exactly right and everything just falls into place (it happened with this book as well).

Whatever happened, I would probably like The Accident Season in any case. It has terrific rhythm, the writing is poetic and haunting without being pretentious and Fowley-Doyle smoothly weaves old Irish folk elements into a story of a family that is quite ordinary for most of the year and extremely unlucky for one month every autumn. Unfortunately, if you’ve read the summary, you’ve pretty much read everything that can be said about The Accident Season without spoilers.

So let’s raise our glasses to the accident season,/ To the river beneath us where we sink our souls./ To the bruises and the secrets./To the ghosts in the ceiling./One more drink for the watery road.

I get shivers whenever I remember this poem.

I wish I could have read this novel when I was 17. Not that I didn’t relate to the characters as a 28-year-old but Cara is exactly the sort of heroine I missed (without really knowing it) when I was in high school. Well, if teenagers smoking and drinking offends you, you’ll probably find the main characters to be an unlikeable bunch. I, however, found Cara, Bea, Sam and Alice to be real and tragic and loveable and unique.

I’ve been thinking about the ending a lot. If you check my “genre” description, you’ll see I was a tad confused by it – but I think that we’re meant to be confused by it, by the dreams and apparitions and everything. Look, I know it sounds weird and I’ve said I dislike being left in the dark before but Fowley-Doyle was one author I didn’t mind following blindly through the story.

I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more work from Moïra Fowley-Doyle – I believe The Accident Season is her debut novel and if it’s any indication of what’s to come, I think I may have found another favourite author.


Are you a mood reader? Or do you always enjoy similar books?

Do you like to know where the author’s leading you? Are you afraid of being left in the dark?

Ooh – if you answer one question, answer this one: what were you like in high school? :)