Hello hello and welcome or welcome back to my little bookish corner of the internet. Today I’m bringing you my review of Perfectly Preventable Deaths, a young adult novel which starts off as a little bit creepy… and ends up being one of the most intensely supernatural books I’ve read in a long time! It’s a brilliant ride of a book, and ever since I finished it I’ve been looking forward to writing about it.
Everyone in Ballyfran has a secret, and that is what binds them together…
Fifteen-year-old twins Madeline and Catlin move to a new life in Ballyfran, a strange isolated town, a place where, for the last sixty years, teenage girls have gone missing in the surrounding mountains.
As distance grows between the twins – as Catlin falls in love, and Madeline begins to understand her own nascent witchcraft – Madeline discovers that Ballyfrann is a place full of predators. Not only foxes, owls and crows, but also supernatural beings who for many generations have congregated here to escape persecution. When Catlin falls into the gravest danger of all, Madeline must ask herself who she really is, and who she wants to be – or rather, who she might have to become to save her sister.
With the appraoching release of the sequel, Precious Catastrophe, at the end of September, I was well overdue a reread of Perfectly Preventable Deaths. It’s been a while since I read it, and this time I read it as an audiobook which completely changed the experience. I’m reviewing it as a first time reader. I did mention the book last year with my spooky reads, and if you’re looking for spook, look no further.
What’s brilliant with this book is how realistic the build up is on the supernatural front. It starts off with slightly weird things, then a bit weirder still, and by the end of the book, you wouldn’t have believed that I even doubted this was a supernatural read at the beginning. We have a castle with secret passageways, a strange old relative who lives on the grounds, and the memories of dead girls in the area. Madeline watches her sister pull away from her where they’ve normally been thick as theives, all while trying to settle into a new school, and learn the new rules and rhythms of the place they’re in.
Each chapter is named after a plant, with a brief description of what they can be used for, and this is a lovely touch to add to the witchy vibes we get from the book.
Running aside the mystery and fantasy is a coming of age story told in a relatable way, from a girl discovering herself, unsure of how her mother – and new stepfather – will accept her as gay, and wondering how she can accept herself being not what or who she anticipated being. The character development on this is adorable for lack of a better word, and I found myself feeling proud of Madeline for having the strength to declare who she was at such a young age when it took me nearly ten extra years!
Thanks for joining me on this witchy review. With Autumn drawing in here, it’s cardigan season, and that absolutely means it’s time for witchy novels! If you’re looking for something with a similar vibe, check out the spooky reads post I linked to above, as well as these below.