Compulsion is the first book in a trilogy by Martina Boone, and I enjoyed it quite a bit! Let’s start with a synopsis, shall we?
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.
This book revolves around a girl named Barrie. I know, it’s an odd name for a girl, but it’s short for Lombard, and Barrie is much better in comparison! Anyway, Barrie has had quite an uncommon life before the beginning of this book. She lived with her mother, who never left the house, and Mark, a gay guy who liked to wear dresses and heels. Oh, and Barrie and her mother have the power to find anything lost, from stray buttons to misplaced wedding rings. That’s a totally normal upbringing, right?
Barrie was an okay main character, in my opinion. I related to her shyness/nervousness at meeting a whole town of people who knew her family history better than she knew it herself. And I liked how she didn’t let other people’s opinions of a person cloud her judgement of him/her. She was a little too stubborn for my taste, though. For example, when her newfound cousin Cassie invited her to hang out, Barrie’s gut told her she didn’t want to go. Barrie, however, ignores her gut feeling and goes anyway. If your gut is telling you something’s up, trust it!
Barrie’s love interest is Eight Beaufort, whose real name is Charles the 7th. He’s very attractive, and he knows it. But he’s also sweet, too. For example, every time a group of people surrounded Barrie to introduce themselves to her, he would try to take the heat off of her by shifting the attention back onto himself. He was a bit too cocky for my liking, but he grew on me by the end of the book.
From the synopsis of this book, I thought that it was going to be non-stop supernatural happenings throughout. The first half was kind of boring, though. It was mainly about Barrie meeting the people of Watson Island and discovering more about her family’s history. Once the Fire Carrier and the yunwi were introduced, though, it started picking up. I think the scene with the Fire Carrier by the fountain was where I became really invested in this book.
The author included a diagram of the Watson-Colesworth-Beaufort family tree in the beginning of the book, which was quite helpful. These three families all intermarried, which made for a very confusing family tree. Even with the diagram, though, I got confused a few times and had to stop and think, “Now whose grandfather was he and how did he die?” It wasn’t too hard to figure it out, I just had to stop and think back to previous passages in the book a few times.
I held out hope that Cassie would turn out to be a nice girl who everyone had misjudged. When Cassie insisted Barrie help her find the Colesworth treasure despite her twisted ankle, my little flame of hope shrank. Even then, I still had a little sputtering flame of hope that Cassie would turn out to be a nice, if a bit misguided, girl until the tunnels. When she locked Barrie and Eight in the tunnels, that was the last bit of wind that blew my candle of hope right out!
The ending was explosive, literally! It was filled with action and supernatural happenings and danger, which is just how I like it. The last sixty or so pages, I couldn’t lift my eyes from the page. There was so much happening that I just had to keep reading!
After I read the last sentence, however, I was left with a couple of questions. Why didn’t Barrie just call the police or Pru or even Seven as soon as she was out of the tunnels? I also wondered what happened to Barrie’s shoulder. I figured she got hit by a piece of the exploding boat, but I never really got a solid answer to that. Another thing I wondered about is how Eight found out Mark had died if he had been trapped in the tunnels and was with Barrie the whole time after that? There were just a couple of things that weren’t wrapped up well enough, in my opinion.
Compulsion was a good book to get me started on my October reading. While I can’t say I enjoyed every minute of it, due to the slower-paced first half, it did intrigue me enough that I will continue the trilogy. I give this book three stars!
QUOTES I LIKED:
She was like a reverse chameleon, making herself stand out no matter where she was.
– Pg. 194
Things, and people, were always more beautiful when you were afraid to lose them.
– Pg. 396
Maybe the human brain was hardwired to require faith. Some people believed in God. Others believed in sports teams. Some believed blindly in their own talent or intelligence, regardless of evidence to the contrary, and then there were those who believed in family no matter how often it betrayed them.
– Pg. 400
“Love doesn’t come with an on-off switch. It’s made of too many threads of memory and hope and heartache that weave themselves into the very core of who you are. You carry all those shared experiences with you.”
– Pg. 429