“Catlin listed all the dead girls’ names as reasons she was nervous to move here. Amanda Shale and Nora Ginn and little Bridget Hora. Fifteen years ago. Twenty. Sixty. They were all our age, or close enough. Her friends researched them, read about them, talked in that vulture way that people do. The gory details. Bits of femur, splattered blood on rocks. The mountains here are paler, leeched of colour. There is a grey tone underneath the green. It’s not like where we’re from. Anything that grows here has to work. It isn’t hard to picture death around us.”
When twins Maddy and Catlin move to Ballyfran to live with their stepfather, they expect to live a ‘normal’ life – well, as normal as you can get if you live in a castle! The girls’ meaning of ‘normal’ is Catlin flirting and dressing up, and Maddy protecting herself and family with omens and living in Catlin’s shadow.
But soon after they move, things change: Catlin falls in love, and Maddy meets Mamó, an old ‘wise woman’ living in the basement of the castle. As Maddy worries about Catlin’s relationship with her new boyfriend, she discovers something about herself that has only just surfaced in Ballyfran. Her behaviour raises local suspicion, and cracks form in Maddy and Catlin’s relationship. Maddy will have to do all she can to stop Catlin from becoming another victim of the ‘murder palace’.
I really enjoyed this book – it was thrilling, dark and twisted, but also emphasised how important family is and the significance of sticking together, even when things get tough.