Three plantations. Two gifts. One ancient curse.
All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead–a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.
Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who somehow seems to know what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.
There was this element of excitement I felt from reading Barrie's story. Having never been to Watson's Island until now, there is a lot for her to learn, and adjust to. Barrie is the key to unlocking the secrets and mystery that have surrounded the island and her family for generations. In her quest for answers, Barrie discovers that there is more to the history and curses that tie her to her family's land than she first thought. Her compulsion won't let her rest until she gets the answers, and finds what the spirits are leading her to. Thankfully not only does she have her Aunt to give her some answers, she has the help of Eight.
Talk about a southern gentleman. Eight is, well I'll just say that we all know that characters with a number name can wreck havoc on our hearts. Eight has set a new standard. Eight hails from one of the three founding families on Watson Island, and like Barrie's family, he too has a gift. I liked how he not only helps Barrie learn the way of their island, he helps her understand their tie to it, and their gift/compulsion. One of the things I loved about Eight, is even when he knew what was best for Barrie, and knew what she wanted, he allowed her to make her own choices. Barrie might not have grown up in the south, but she's a strong, stubborn southern girl who won't be told what to do. Thankfully there were times she would listen to Eight's advice, even if she didn't always take it. I seriously loved the bickering these two had. It was so natural, and at times comical.
The romance. *sigh* I love a great southern romance, and there is plenty of that in this book. It's not the kind of romance that steals the center stage. Instead, it's one that constantly simmers in the back ground. It's not just the natural romance that developed between Barrie and Eight that I loved, but the romances that are richly embedded into the history between their families, and the third founding family's history. It's at the heart of that, where the mystery, and the heartbreaking past collide. I like how Martina didn't rush how the secrets of the past were revealed or how they effected the characters in the story. There's so much that is wrapped up into the story that I want to talk about. The way in which Martina wrote everything is so beautifully paced and so well crafted. It's kind of like a well wrapped present. Part of you wants to rip it open and find out what's inside of it, and the other part of you wants to savor each moment you spend unwrapping it.
Compulsion is one heck of a southern gothic YA read. The entire book comes to life with that southern gothic feel I find myself getting easily sucked in to. No detail great or small was left out of the story. The past and present collided perfectly. The romance was intoxicating, and developed effortlessly. The characters were fabulous. I adore Barrie's Aunt and Mark. Oh Mark. What a fabulous secondary character! Overall, this is one book I'd definitely recommend picking up. If this is Martina's debut, I can only imagine how her sequel will be!