Title: The Catalain Book of Secrets
Author: Jessica Lourey
Published: January 1st 2015
Publisher: Toadhouse Books
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Book Blurb (via Goodreads):
Faith Falls is a snug little Minnesota town constructed over a mystery, a place where the most impressive building is a gorgeous Queen Anne with turrets, cantilevered gables, and a wraparound porch. In a concealed room beneath the twisting stairs of the Queen Anne lies the Catalain Book of Secrets, the repository of the wisdom the Catalain women have gathered since the beginning of time.
Ursula Catalain, current keeper of the Book of Secrets, is content to concoct spells in her garden cottage until the ghost of the man she murdered when she was 12 appears at her door in a new form. His return pulls Jasmine, Ursula’s daughter, back into the fold. Once believed to be the most powerful of the Catalains, she foreswore her gift years before to bury a shameful secret. The ghost of the murdered man also calls home Katrine, Jasmine’s sister, who has been banished for fourteen years. Finally able to return to Faith Falls and the beloved Queen Anne, Katrine must claim her true Catalain power to save her mother and sister from the dark family curse.
Told in a majestic mosaic of strong women’s voices, The Catalain Book of Secrets weaves together alchemy, hope, tragedy, and true love to spin a tale in the style of Garden Spells, Eva Luna, and Practical Magic.
“The Catalain Book of Secrets opens with a bang and keeps on firing off the unexpected. Think Charles deLint or Alice Hoffman…spell-binding.” –Midwest Book Review
“The novel is tightly plotted, and Lourey shines when depicting relationships—romantic ones as well as tangled links between Catalains…sweet and sassy…” –Kirkus Reviews
“The Catalain Book of Secrets picks you up and sweeps you away until you’re completely intoxicated by its magic. Life-affirming, thought-provoking, heart-warming, it’s one of those books which—if you happen to read it exactly when you need to—might heal your wounds as you turn the pages.” –Catriona McPherson, Agatha, Macavity, and Bruce Alexander-winning author of the Dandy Gilver series and The Day She Died
This is a beautiful tale of family bonds, strong women, and the power of letting go and opening up. The secrets that the Catalain women have been hoarding within themselves over the decades has finally bubbled to the surface and is threatening to destroy them. Believing that the secrets they’re hiding are keeping their loved ones safe, none of the women reveal the information that could have helped prevent the horrible events that befall them.
I liked the way we jumped between the different generations of the family through the viewpoints of four of the Catalain women: Ursula, her two daughter Katrine and Jasmine, and Jasmine’s daughter, Tara. It helped to show the different perspectives on the situation and understand why each of the women were doing and why.
The pacing was a bit slow at times, but learning the depth behind the family ties kept it interesting. There wasn’t so much a twist at the end, as a revelation and a coming together of all the little pieces of information. It tied up nicely by the end and was quite satisfying to read.
Although it’s not the most gripping of novels, it does hold your interest and has a great cast of characters.
This book is available here.
About the Author
Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minnesota and featuring amateur sleuth, Mira James. October Fest, the sixth in the star-reviewed series, hits shelves May 2011. Kirkus Reviews calls it “…funny, ribald, and full of small-town eccentrics.”
Jess has been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. When not raising her wonderful kids, teaching, or writing, you can find her gardening, traveling, and navigating the niceties and meanities of small-town life. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, The Loft, and Lake Superior Writers, and serves on the national board of the Mystery Writers of America.”
You can find out more about Jess at her website.