So, while I found the story a little lacking, the vibrant illustrations and their ability to portray movement and life kept me glued to the novel until the final poignant quote: "Dancing fills a space in me."
With each review I will provide my favourite page, or in this case the three I could not pick a favourite from.
I also thought the added drama between the main character and her "hunky" boyfriend (a renewed love interest from her past) was rather contrived. Her anger at first was understandable, but went quickly to extremes and I found she was far more put upon than she had a right to be.
A lot of side characters were strewn in there, unnecessary to plot, used by the author to highlight the caring nature of the main character, but just making her more emotional and annoying as a whole. Also, there were a lot of repetitive metaphors, or unnecessary explanations of metaphors, as though the author thought the reader was not smart enough to grasp what she was writing.
Tallulah was a character I did not care for. Sudden shows of emotion, anger at inappropriate moments, over-explanation, a "strong" woman who is really weak and needs everyone to do everything for her, shoves herself into everything without a care for consequences. She was unlikable most of the book, and in real life would have been arrested for her bullshit.
Will not be picking up anymore Mystery A La Mode books.
From that point on the plot developed better, the story was more coherent, and it did not drag on endlessly without momentum (as the first half had). The ending was well written, shocking, and back on course with my enjoyment of the first book. I can only hope that magic remains for the next installment of the Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson saga.
Although there was a lot I did not enjoy about the first half of the novel, I loved the addition of the August Moriarty character. What a breath of fresh air, a change of pace from the stagnant moments between Holmes and Watson. He is a morose character with many reasons to hate everyone involved in the novel, but he is still helpful, and funny, and selfless (unlike every other character). I especially enjoyed his interactions with Watson, these two made the beginning of the book tolerable. I wanted more moments between them, and less of the venom being spit between the two main characters. If not for August, this book may have ended up in my DNF (did not finish) pile.
It seems that the second hand characters were the starring points in the novel, not only did August shine, but good friends Lena and Tom make a comeback later in the novel, and they are brilliant. If you are having a hard time with pushing through this book, just know that it does turn around and the writing becomes fast paced and enticing. And the ending...the ending leaves your breathless and grasping for more.
Kai's mother eases her grief with what Kai terms the 'death checklist', busying herself with funeral arrangements and a wake. Kai's father retreats to his study, for drink and to hide within himself. Because of this, Kai feels more alone than ever, with her sister (her main confidant) now gone. When Kai's grief finally devolves into a state where she almost takes her own life, her parent's send her away to a grief camp.
It is at this camp that Kai meets other teenagers who have suffered a similar loss. Their shared experiences help her to open up, to allow others to know what she is feeling and understand it, and to finally forgive her sister. I found it petering a bit at the camp section of the book, where it became a bit on the unbelievable side with how quickly love was formed. However, this book was well written, emotional, painful, and marked with moments of happiness. For Kai, and her family, her sister's death will always play a large part in their lives, but they must learn to navigate life knowing she is always with them, even though she is gone; this is their new normal. Like Marco, the camp counsellor says, "Not moving on, moving forward. There's a big difference."