Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Page Count: 448
Published by: Simon Pulse
Source: eArc received from publisher in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
Compulsion was a beautifully written Southern Gothic with tons of charm. I really enjoyed reading it, but there were a few things that held it back from being one of those really great books. The story was perfectly nice and at points I really did enjoy it, but it just wasn't as creepy as I was expecting it to be. There was also a kind of overdone feel that bogged the story down at times.
The story revolves around Barrie's arrival in Watson's Landing. She sets out not only to discover her own family's long and sordid history, but also to uncover the truth about the other 2 families who share a past with the Watsons. The set up of ALL of the different characters and their curse / gift took up a lot of the pages. While interesting to read, it was also quite confusing. It felt more like a whole lot of description and background, and not nearly enough substance with the present day story. I was mostly okay with this, but every once in a while I'd realize that I was still a little lost with the story, and I didn't know the characters well enough to feel a strong connection to them.
The author managed to create more than a few interesting characters. I loved some of them, and I thought some were downright nasty and awful. I ended up liking Barrie a lot. She was tough, headstrong, and had such a huge heart. And I couldn't help but feel sympathy for what she was going through. She was a bit too accepting at times, but I was glad that she didn't freak out over some of her discoveries like I would have.
It was SO easy to like Eight because he was sort of perfect, even though he could be completely frustrating at times. Of course, once you read the story you'll realize there was a definite reason that he was so charming and easy to take. Whatever the reason, and despite my being too old for him, I couldn't help but think he was a bit swoony.
Barrie and Eight didn't have what I would call insta-love, but more like an instant connection and easy friendship. Is it wrong that I liked them together? Because I will totally admit that I was a fan of them skipping the awkward getting to know you phase and moving right into being comfortable together. Their relationship really worked for me in this story, and I found it to be sweet, charming, and romantic. I thought they worked really well together while trying to figure out their families' mysteries.
I really enjoyed this story and found it to be historically fascinating. There was enough mystery and intrigue to keep the story interesting and to keep me reading, but I really wish it had been creepier. Overall, I thought this was a wonderful debut and an excellent start to this series, and I can't wait to read the next book.
I have to point out that the title for the second book in this series is Persuasion. I'm on the fence about the title because I'm such a huge fan of Jane Austen's Persuasion, so that is what I immediately think of. I know the title really relates to the curse / gift aspect of the story, so I'll just have to get over it.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars