This month I was sent a copy of Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore to review by Oftomes Publishing. I was so excited to read this book as I’d read another of Lepore’s books in October and really loved it, so I had high expectations for this one. Luckily I was not disappointed. Blackheath, like The Witches of the Glass Castle that I previously read, was also about witches, but I was pleasantly surprised about how different these novels were. Blackheath focused less on their powers and more on life as a whole, which was really interesting. As usual, I’ll give you a brief synopsis and then my review!
Seventeen-year-old Maggie Ellmes is dogged by a case of chronic bad luck. She figures that’s just her lot in life—that is, until the psychic at Blackheath’s annual carnival reveals that Maggie’s problems are caused by more than just ordinary misfortune; she’s actually been cursed.
Desperate to shake the hex, Maggie has no choice but to seek out the help of Joel Tomlins, a rebellious classmate who’s descended from Blackheath’s most powerful line of witches. After breaking all of his coven’s conventions to help her, Joel discovers that the curse isn’t as bad as Maggie fears. In fact, it’s much, much worse.
Blackheath’s prologue was short but interesting. Without giving away any of the plot, it immediately set up the themes of the book and drew me straight in. It differed from many other prologues as it didn’t appear to be years before the main setting of the book in order to give context. In fact, it didn’t really explain what was happening at all. I totally loved this as it grabbed my attention. I had to keep reading to find out what would be happening, which is clever writing.
My favourite thing about this book is that it made the witches human. It’s easy to write about myth that excludes itself from reality, hiding away like in Harry Potter or The Mortal Instruments, but Lepore’s characters blend into society and live perfectly normal lives (besides the powers, of course!). The Tomlins family were really real for me. I loved their complicated life, made even more complex by the fact they are witches, which didn’t stop them from having normal sibling relationships, getting a detention at school, or having awkward teenage encounters. Lepore made it so easy to love every character in this book. From best friends and cliques of girls, to your stereotypical football lad or the boy next door, each character was well thought out and had a unique personality. Of course my favourites were Maggie and Joel, the protagonists.
As well as convincing and loveable characters, Blackheath also had an intriguing and unique plot. There were lots of small, enjoyable moments that moved the narrative forward and pushed characters together. Whilst the idea of a curse initially seemed trivial and fun, with the plot reflecting teenage school life, these chapters worked towards a higher purpose until the dramatic climax. The plot went places I really didn’t expect. Seriously, I didn’t guess a single plot twist or reveal. I’m a bit slow and oblivious to these things anyway, too wrapped up in the drama to even realise the obvious, but I do think most readers would be surprised by at least a few moments in Blackheath. I loved that the plot tricked my expectations! The story was summed up pretty nicely at the end, explaining a few questions that had lingered throughout the book. There was also a small hint at more to come which left me really excited!
Overall I think it’s clear that I loved this book. Oftomes Publishing did it again! Gabriella Lepore has a way with words that automatically draws me in. I love her interesting take on witches, which differs in all of her novels, and her lovable yet realistic teen characters that keep me feeling young and nostalgic when the doom of adult life looms over me as my 22nd birthday approaches. This was a quick and easy read that really delivered. I’d recommend Blackheath to fantasy fans who want an enjoyable, new book to sink their teeth into. Thanks again Oftomes Publishing and Gabriella Lepore for a fabulous book to review.