THE PRICE GUIDE TO THE OCCULT


From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that,

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From the author of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender comes a haunting maelstrom of magic and murder in the lush, moody Pacific Northwest.

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred–some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide’s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness.

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  • Candlewick Press
  • Hardcover
  • March 2018
  • 288 Pages
  • 9780763691103

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$18.99

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About Leslye Walton

Leslye Walton was named a William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist for the publication of her debut novel, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Born in the Pacific Northwest, she has an MA in writing. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

Author Website

Praise

“Walton follows The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender with a lyrical and robust multigenerational story set on the fictional Anathema Island in the Pacific Northwest. . .  In succinct, evocative sentences, Walton paints vivid scenes while maintaining a gripping plot. Addressing abandonment, self-harm, first love, and other topics, Walton weaves a rewardingly complex tale that brims with suspense and romance.”Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“As in her 2014 debut, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Walton’s writing is atmospheric and ethereal. Anathema Island, with its foggy shores, rich diversity of flora and fauna, and quirky tourist shops, comes to vivid life…Nor’s wicked and violent sociopath mother is memorable and her scenes are truly chilling…Walton’s sophomore effort is haunting and, especially in the last act, thrilling.”School Library Journal

“Walton conjures a rich sense of place in her sophomore novel, and the backstory of the Blackburn women is undeniably fascinating. Additionally, she does an excellent job handling the topic of Nor’s self-harm: Nor’s already sought treatment by the time her story begins, and though her compulsive thoughts and anxiety are still there, she’s learned how to manage those thoughts in a healthy way…the eerie atmosphere, lyrical language, and romance subplot will still entrance many.”Booklist

Essay

Author’s Note

Dear Reader,

It’s a two-hour drive and a 45-minute ferry ride to get from my home in Seattle to the San Juan Islands. I’m on my way there now. When I look out the ferry window, I see miles of deep blue water and breaking waves. The particular island on which The Price Guide to the Occult takes place may be fictional, but the San Juans themselves are very much real. The hundred or so isles that make up the San Juan archipelago wind through the cold waters of the Salish Sea off the northern Washington coastline. It is a place where the aurora borealis lights up the night sky, and the ocean laps against the shore, twinkling with bioluminescence. The beaches are lined with sea grass that glows silver in the moonlight. Should magic exist, I believe it would be found here.

When I started writing The Price Guide to the Occult, I knew I wanted to write a story about a girl who in spite of being a witch — or perhaps because of it — is also utterly human. Nor Blackburn is a powerful witch, and she’d give just about anything to get rid of that part of herself for good. But you can’t just cut out the parts of yourself that you don’t like. Just ask Nor. Her skin is covered with scars from all the times she’d tried.

The Price Guide to the Occult is a story about magic and witches, spilled blood and backfired curses. It’s a story about isolation and guilt, love and friendship and hope. But most importantly, it’s about finding the courage to accept yourself — even the parts that scare the living hell out of you.