by Mary Lindsey
Plot Summary:Liam MacGregor is cursed. Haunted by the wails of fantastical Bean Sidhes and labeled a demon by the villagers of Dòchas, Liam has accepted that things will never get better for him—until a wealthy heiress named Annabel Leighton arrives on the island and Liam’s fate is changed forever.
With Anna, Liam finally finds the happiness he has always been denied; but, the violent, mythical Otherworlders, who inhabit the island and the sea around it, have other plans. They make amwager on the couple’s love, testing its strength through a series of cruel obstacles. But the tragedies draw Liam and Anna even closer. Frustrated, the creatures put the couple through one last trial—and this time it’s not only their love that’s in danger of being destroyed.
Based on Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, "Annabel Lee," Mary Lindsey creates a frighteningly beautiful gothic novel that glorifies the power of true love.
Review:I love the gorgeously melancholic poem "Annabel Lee" that inspires this story and I think the author did a wonderful job capturing that heart-aching love between the two main characters in this book. That sense that they are meant to be together is the most important aspect, and the hardest to get right in a story like this. Because their romance has to be more important than life, and it has to come across believably. With Liam and Anna, I almost immediately felt very invested in their relationship - especially because of how ostracized Liam is in his small village. And the way that both characters help each other through their own personal demons added depth to the characterizations and to their romance. I loved all the moments when Liam and Anna made decisions that showed them to be better than they were before.
The author expanded on the poem's straightforward tragic love story by adding in Celtic lore which served to create antagonists to the couple's relationship. The constant threat these mythological beings pose to Anna and Liam gave the romance in this story a suspenseful edge, because the effects the wager on their love could have on the couple is so potentially devastating. And there is no release from that tension until almost the last page. With the suspense from what the Na Fir Gorhm were planning, there's also the mystery behind two deaths associated with Liam and Anna, which worked really well to balance the emotional romance.
Another dimension to this story that I really appreciated was the claustrophobic narrow-mindedness of some of the inhabitants of the isolated village. It's a penetrating look at how frustrating and damaging blind belief can be. It also makes all the obstacles the couple has to overcome so much more daunting! The novel brings together two flawed individuals who become better people with each other, and the many oppositions to their happiness made this a very affecting and poignant read. I am still not sure how happy I am with the ending, but I think it suits the poem's mood very well, and the author did a fantastic job translating the wonderful poem into an intricate, character-driven romance and mystery.