I wasn't kidding about the bleak and dreary setting of this book. Everything about it from the world to it's main characters feels grey and on the cusp of dying and sometimes that's ok. If you don't like books that are generally a bit more melancholy, this one is going to bum you out for sure, but the writing is full of beautiful prose and as someone who does like stories a bit more bittersweet at times, this was a breath of fresh air to me.
Hallie's world is an interesting one... something happened that caused the great machines to stop working. Holes appear in the sky where monsters that look like crossbreeds between crows and spiders etc. pour through the holes, burning and rusting anything they touch. An army marched to put an end to the evil god and few make the return journey home. Hallie and Marthe maintain their farm and hope that Marthe's husband will make his way home in time to see his daughter born. All the while these sisters struggle to maintain their farm, a rift blooming between them as they struggle to understand one another following such a loss. Their sibling squabbles are put on hold as, through a series of coincidences, a mysterious stranger offers to help them maintain the farm, Marthe thinks she sees the ghost of her husband stalking the land, and Hallie begins to fall for the boy next door who was left crippled by the door. Oh, and then the sky begins to tear open and countless Twisted Things fall from the sky right on their farm, threatening to destroy everything these sisters worked so hard to keep after their father died.
My biggest issue with this book is mainly that the author made such a complex world and, because this was a standalone story, never really explored it. I wanted to know more about this evil god and what these Twisted Things were. I wanted to know what happened to make the machines stop working and what they all plan to do about this other world that bleeds into theirs. This is a world rich for the exploring but... there is no more exploring to be done. Just felt a bit like a waste to me.
There were other issues that kept me from giving the book a higher rating as well. The author liked to overuse italics for emphasizing words. It's a good tactic to let the reader know someone is really serious about something. But when every character does it in almost every piece of dialogue it loses its impact. And realistically, no one talks like that where every word is just so important that you need to italicize all the things. If it was just one character who did that as just their speech pattern then ok, I give it a pass. But when everyone does it, it becomes so obvious that it takes me out of the moment and gets annoying. Outside of that, at times I grew frustrated with Hallie and Marthe's squabbling. I have an older sister and we are about the same age difference as Hallie and Marthe and the kinds of issues they had... I know everyone is different but it just got to a point where you wanted both of them to get over themselves. They do, but not till the end so the pay off is very slow.
Other than that the imagery that the author uses, the prose, the feelings... they are melancholy and bittersweet but beautiful. If you are in the mood for something a little dark, a little creepy but not scary, this is a great and quick read!
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