This was my first time reading a book by this author. While I wanted to like it, I have to say I wasn't particularly impressed. The author is good at ambiance and description, but not particularly adept at characterization or pacing. Ninety percent of the novel is too slow and the climax is too abrupt and simple. As far as the characters go, I didn't find their emotions particularly believable, and there was also way too much "I must keep away from this man -but I just can't resist his allure! I am putty in his hands!" Also, the author -like Stephenie Meyer- seems to think that someone entering a teenage girl's room without her knowledge or permission is romantic instead of unacceptable stalker behavior.
Then there's the fact that the magical realism doesn't add a single thing to the story. It actually detracts from the central themes and overall quality of the novel. I also found the Coffey family secret to be fairly idiotic. Not only did it immediately reminded me of Twilight, my first thought was, "that's it?"
I feel like the author was trying to do too much and couldn't handle it: small town ambiance and
personal growth and
magical happenings and
overcoming the past and
troubled love. The novel would have been much stronger if it focused solely on Emily's problems -being judged for her mother's sins, and reconciling the town's memories of her Mom with her own memories.