Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Review: Compulsion by Martina Boone

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 with 6 comments
Title: Compulsion
Author: Martina Boone
Series: The Heirs of Watson Island, book #1
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads
Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in this spellbinding new trilogy.

Three plantations. Two wishes. One ancient curse.

All her life, Barrie Watson had been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived 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.

All it took for me to add Compulsion to my TBR was a look at that gorgeous cover and seeing a Southern gothic romance tag. I loved how this story started out, too...with Barrie who has a gift for finding lost things becoming a lost thing herself. What I didn't love was the fact that when I added this book to my must-read list, I was under the impression that it was a stand-alone. I should have known better, right? And maybe it's been a series since I first heard about it, I don't know, but I don't think Goodreads mentioned that at first or I wouldn't have been nearly as excited about the book. It's not that I didn't enjoy the novel -- I most definitely did -- but I'm trying to keep the number of new series I start to a minimum these days. Also, I read in the acknowledgements that the author had so-and-so to thank for helping her turn this into a trilogy. So, it wasn't a planned series to begin with. And I still don't think it needed to be. Anyway, that's more my issue than any fault of the story's.

Compulsion embodied everything I love about Southern gothic romances: the eerie setting, complete with old, decrepit mansions; restless spirits; peculiar townsfolk; and a romance that seemed destined in the stars. This book also includes a centuries old curse, warring founding families, and psychic abilities that have been passed down for generations. And yet, even with all of that, the story dragged its feet for the first half of the book or so. Not to the point that I was considering not finishing the book, just in the way that many a story from Southerners tends to require a lengthy build-up before getting to the good stuff.

That said, the romance took no time at all to develop between Barrie and Eight. But, I wouldn't exactly call it insta-love because their attraction is pretty much fated. While the Colesworths have always been feuding with the Watsons and the Beauforts, the latter two have always been drawn to each other. It's all curses and magic, but that doesn't make it any less real for these characters, despite how much Barrie fights her feelings for Eight. She's already lost so much before making it to Watson's Landing, and she doesn't want to add Eight to that list. Because of Eight's gift, Barrie can't be sure that what's going on between them is real, and she's just so afraid of being hurt, of being left behind. I did find Barrie's back-and-forth feelings -- her constant wavering and wondering if loving Eight would be worth it -- to be somewhat annoying in the beginning, but I forgave her that when it seemed like she was legitimately starting to trust him. Barrie just wouldn't allow herself to fall for Eight's Southern charm...at least not at first.

It impressed me how comfortable the author made these two with each other, despite their misgivings, even from their very first encounter. They just conversed so easily, had that easy banter of a couple who'd known each other all their lives. And I think that's part of the reason that this didn't seem like insta-love to me. The characters may have been initially attracted to each other, but they spent the entirety of the book getting to know one another. While I didn't immediately connect to these characters, I felt their connection.

I enjoyed all of the backstory for these families, even if it was slow-going getting to the bottom of the curse and how everything fit together. But it gave me time to get to know the side characters, as well, even the ones that weren't physically present. It was better that I was slowly introduced to them all because admittedly, the family histories were a tad confusing at times. Lots of brothers and sisters and betrayals and missing people to worry about. And after discovering all of the secrets and magic that had been hidden on Watson's Landing all those years, I thought the ending would be more suspenseful, but I guess that's where the beginning of a "spellbinding new trilogy" comes in.

I think that as far as meeting my expectations goes, this book succeeded. Based on my initial reasons for wanting to read Compulsion, I got exactly what I was hoping for. I really enjoyed this story, but I was hoping for a really compelling resolution in this book. Honestly, my biggest complaint is that I don't think a series is warranted here. I would have much rather gotten my ending here in this book and then moved on to read the next awesome story from Martina Boone.

GIF it to me straight:
Yep, that's what I'll be doing for the sequel since this is not the stand-alone I was hoping for. :(

About the author:

Martina Boone was born in Prague and spoke several languages before learning English. Her first teacher in the U.S. made fun of her for not pronouncing the "wh" sound right, so she set out to master "all the words”—she's still working on that! In the meantime she’s writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she'd love to visit.

If you like romance steeped in mystery, mayhem, Spanish moss, and a bit of magic, she hopes you'll look forward to meeting Barrie, Eight, Cassie, Pru, Seven and the other characters of Watson Island.

Find Martina:

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest


  1. It feels like EVERYTHING is a series these days, right?! Even all the contemporaries are melding in to series...which is okay, but I like the closure of a standalone. *sigh*
    Oh but I SO want to read this someday! I didn't realise it was southern. I've read such a bunch of Southern books lately...which is okay, because I've seen The Help so I mentally narrate it in that style. Hey! Maybe I'm doing it wrong. But I'm Australian and don't know better. lol XD

  2. I also think there are too many series out there. More standalones would be perfect, too...
    But after your review I really wnt to read this book. It sounds really good!

  3. I love the eerie atmosphere of gothic novels myself. Though I find that if there isn't a curse or some sort of predestined love in the offing, it wouldn't work as good. I'm glad this book/series has all the right components!

  4. Wow that cover really is nice. It sounds super cool but like you I'm wary of getting into too many series.

  5. I've seen a good amount about this book and I love that cover. I think I will wait until it's a tad closer to the second book. I feel like I have so many series started right now. Great review!

  6. Lovely review, Jen! I was very excited to read this book too, but unfortunately for the life of me could not connect with it. I thought it was boring for about the first 2/3 and ultimately forgettable. :/ I'm glad you liked it though! I'll still read the sequel but I'm not gonna go crazy for it.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...