The first thing we learn is that Blue Sargent’s kiss is deadly. Why? She lives in a house full of psychics that are 100% certain Blue’s love life will end in tragedy:
All the women came to the same conclusion, blunt and inexplicably specific. What they all agreed on, in many clairvoyant languages, was this: If Blue was to kiss her true love, he would die
Blue takes us through several scenarios about how this will happen. We hear about a kiss-borne disease and a jealous ex-boyfriend and then, finally, that Blue’s just decided never to fall in love. This is a young adult novel, so we’re all skeptical, and then vindicated, when Blue’s aunt comes to visit and tells her this is the year she’ll fall in love.
Thoughts and Feelings:
As first lines go, this one is pretty cool. How could you possibly forget how many times someone predicts a murder? (Or, not a murder, but a death over which Blue has control, which is a pretty heavy thing to put on a six-year-old). And of course Stievfater doesn’t stray away from the magic. We are told immediately that Maura is, under no circumstances, a crackpot. What she sees is real, and it’s other people who are the dumb ones for thinking it’s not.
What really got me was the throwaway line about the fact that Blue could hear the Aglionby hounds crying from her house. First of all, I cannot believe that these 21st century boys are so bored with regular life that they’re still hunting with horses and hounds, but whatever. We want to show that they suck, and we’ve done that. But the fact that Blue is familiar enough with the sounds of hunting dogs that when hears the howling she goes “oh, they found a fox and they’re on the chase?” What kind of rich white nonsense is this?
And, of course, our introduction to Neeve, who I think of as so insignificant that I still forget she actually has a part to play in the plot. But here she is! Predicting a love story and setting the reader up for some good old fashioned Angsty Teen Sadness™. I can’t wait.
Best character moment: Blue deciding that her mother’s murder prediction didn’t matter because she would have a long loveless life and kill nobody
Best turn of phrase:
Again and again, she had her fingers spread wide, her palm examined, her cards plucked from velvet-edged decks and spread across the fuzz of a family friend’s living room carpet. Thumbs were pressed to the mystical, invisible third eye that was said to be between everyone’s eyebrows. Rune were cast and dreams interpreted, tea leaves scrutinized and séances conducted.
Action: Conflict revealed! The story can begin!! 7/10
Magic: Mystical and inevitable. 8/10
Comic Relief: It’s setting up the future action, so I won’t judge it too harshly, especially because it’s only four pages long. 5/10