Thanks to NetGalley and Peachtree Teen for this free digital copy in exchange for an honest review. This book is out now!
Synopsis from Peachtree:
“A modern folktale for fans of The Bear and the Nightingale and The Hazel Wood about embracing your power, facing your monsters, and loving deeply enough to transcend a century.
The final girl survives because she can be just as ruthless as the monster who wants to destroy her.
Sent to stay with her aunt in Prague and witness the humble life of an artist, Ilana Lopez—a biracial Jewish girl—finds herself torn between her dream of becoming a violinist and her immigrant parents’ desire for her to pursue a more stable career.
When she discovers a forgotten Jewish cemetery behind her aunt’s cottage, she meets the ghost of a kindhearted boy named Benjamin, who died over a century ago. As Ilana restores Benjamin’s grave, he introduces her to the enchanted side of Prague, where ghosts walk the streets and their kisses have warmth.
Benjamin isn’t the only one interested in Ilana, though. Rudolph Wassermann, a man with no shadow, has become fascinated with her and the music she plays. He offers to share his magic, so Ilana can be with Benjamin and pursue her passion for violin. But after Ilana discovers the truth about Wassermann and how Benjamin became bound to the city, she resolves to save the boy she loves, even if success means losing him—forever.
With spellbinding verse, R.M. Romero channels the spirit of myth into a brilliantly original tale, inspired by her experiences restoring Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe.”
Ahhhhh. This book. This book is so beautifully and lovingly written. I would call in a novel in verse but there are moments that feel like prose as well. Romero’s writing is stunning and lyrical and there were beautiful sentences that just leapt out of the page and lodged themselves into my heart. To try to place this in a category feels weird, but this felt more like magical realism to me than anything else. It had elements of the folktale and fairy tale about it, which I think can still fit under the magical realism umbrella.
When I wasn’t reading this book, I was thinking about it. When I was reading it, I was reading it QUICKLY. I do want to eventually read it again, because I do think I missed a little since I read it so fast (I just REALLY wanted to know what happened next). I wouldn’t exactly say the story is fast-paced though, a reader can just move through it quicker.
I would absolutely recommend this story, particularly if you like novels in verse. I can’t wait to read more from this author!
CW: The story is set in Prague, and does mention the Nazi occupation of Prague during WWII. I read this about a month ago, but I do not recall this story going into extreme (graphic) detail about the treatment of Jewish people in Prague during the occupation. It is mentioned, however, so please be aware of that in the event that my memory has failed me. This story also discusses the death of children.