It was a beautiful, warm summer day, the day Danny died.
Suddenly Wren was alone and shattered. In a heartbroken fury, armed with dark incantations and a secret power, Wren decides that what she wants—what she must do—is to bring Danny back.
But the Danny who returns is just a shell of the boy Wren fell in love with. His touch is icy; his skin, smooth and stiff as marble; his chest, cruelly silent when Wren rests her head against it.
Wren must keep Danny a secret, hiding him away, visiting him at night, while her life slowly unravels around her. Then Gabriel DeMarnes transfers to her school, and Wren realizes that somehow, inexplicably, he can sense the powers that lie within her—and that he knows what she has done. And now Gabriel wants to help make things right.
But Wren alone has to undo what she has wrought—even if it means breaking her heart all over again.
I chose this book after I browsed through some GoodReads reviews and most of them were describing it as beautifully written, lyrical, heartbreaking, haunting, etc, etc. Plus, a lot of readers were mentioning how they cried while reading it more than they did in their whole life. And that’s exactly what I was wishing for. A book that would rip my heart apart, that would tear me to pieces and stick me back together, that would leave me breathless and make me live for a few days inside the protagonist’s mind.
And while I did enjoy going through the story, the book definitely didn’t reach the expectations those reviews created.
Wren is a teenager that inherits magical powers from her family, but is still pretty much witless of the way she can use the powers inside her, since they are a taboo topic in her house. So when her first love dies suddenly, she impulsively takes the decision to try and bring him back. Only that, of course, the… thing that she brings back is barely a shell of the boy that she loved. And slowly, day after day, she becomes more and more conscious of the fact that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.
I loved how the author made a very clear difference between the flashbacks from the past, that illustrate the amazing relation between Wren and Danny and the present, when things are so wrong, but still tender, painful but still heart warming. Before Danny starts becoming a complete different being, in the first weeks after his death (and resurrection), he still holds most of the parts that made him be who he was. He’s still the one Wren loved more than anything, he’s still her comfort zone, still the one that makes all bad things disappear with only a hug. It’s only his need of her that starts growing in an alarming way, his increasing addiction to her presence that makes things worrying. And slowly, his memories that Wren was hoping to hide are now all surfacing, making him confused, angry and dangerous.
When the protagonist meets another boy that is also gifted in a similar way she is, and whom unexpectedly, seems to know what she’s done, it starts becoming obvious that she needs to fix the mistake that she made.
I loved the realistic feeling that the book offered, despite the fact that it’s a fantasy story. The magic has its own place, while life continues to be very normal in most of the ways. Wren has to juggle between hiding her undead boyfriend, going to school and a part-time job, not losing her best friends for good, following her mum’s rules and keeping a decent relationship with her family. And between all of this, she also has to deal with the guilt of falling for somebody else, while Danny’s new existence is revolving only around her.
Even if usually I roll my eyes when I hear about love triangles, the author did such a good job that it didn’t disturb me at all. Considering that Wren is only 17 and that her life is such a huge chaos, I didn’t find it weird or inappropriate that the new guy looks like the only light in the whole darkness. Plus, she’s mature enough to solve her own mess without turning to him as a damsel in distress. Or, at least, not more than she should. All her mood swings are comprehendable, all her drama queen moments are very much self explanatory because of the pressure that she’s holding on her shoulders.
I enjoyed the whole ride, I emphasized with all the characters and understood their decisions and motivations. I didn’t find any remarkable personalities in any of them, but they are all well written, without major flaws and give you the feeling that they could be any real persons that you could meet in your everyday life.
The strongest point of the book remains the romance. It’s sweet and surprisingly, comes in smaller doses than expected and makes you melt a little bit every time when you encounter it.
Of course the novel will have a different effect on each reader. But in the end, I believe it’s almost impossible not to like the story. Because what’s the biggest fear that we all have if not the fear of losing our loved ones? And so, just by thinking about it, all the actions and decisions of Wren become alternative realities of what each of us, the readers, might do in an imaginary world where death wouldn’t be the final step.