Review: Compulsion by Martina Boone

Monday, October 27, 2014

Why I chose this book:

I had my eye on this back in March when I began seeing a few bloggers talk about it. The story, the setting, the Southern Gothic genre, everything just spoke to me and told me that I must read this book. I entered into every giveaway I saw, but to no avail. Luckily, I ended up being approved on Edelweiss, and I did a little happy dance in my room when I saw the email. And to tell you the truth, I was so happy that I got this book for free, but now I’m going to go out and buy the physical copy anyway once it releases. I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

by Martina Boone
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publish Date: October 28, 2014
Format: ARC
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Southern Gothic, Magical Realism
B&N || Amazon
Three plantations. Two wishes. 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 knows 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. (Goodreads)
4 things you need to know about this book:

So first off, I’m going to go all English major on you for a second and talk about her use of the Southern Gothic genre and its tropes, because I just love it so much!

1. Southern Gothic and the use of Gothic tropes.
I will begin by saying that Gothic and Southern Gothic are two of my favorite genres in classic literature, so of course I was lapping this up like a dehydrated dog in the summer time. If you don’t know, Gothic and Southern Gothic are the same yet slightly different. Gothic is represented in novels such asFrankenstein, Dracula, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, etc; Southern Gothic is basically the American version of those novels. They both carry darker and more malicious themes, but there’s a draw and an enticing suspense provided for the reader, which is the overarching theme of Gothic tale. 

Martina Boone, used many Gothic/Southern Gothic tropes in her book, for which I was extremely grateful. She used tropes such as the decaying setting of Watson Island plantations, eccentric characters, the deterioration of southern aristocracy, darkness, superstition, madness and eerie, and of course a dash of witchcraft/occultism. These are all of your main tropes, and Boone used every single one of them, and it was seamless! You could tell she didn’t just use these tropes to fulfill the genre; she used them because it was a way of telling the story. And it was seamless in a way that brought a hint of magical realism to the book that I completely fell in love with. 

2. Needless to say, this lady can write!
On top of her excellent use of the Southern Gothic genre, she writes extremely well. Her imagery is beautiful, and you get sucked right in to the pictures she paints with words. I felt the eeriness of the forest and the darkness in the evenings, I smelled the scent of moisture in the southern air, and I could feel the odd texture of the Spanish moss dripping off the trees. I was completely enveloped by this book from start to finish.

3. A teenager who knows who she is.
The main character, Barrie, is no stranger to loss and hardship. She is a character made of steel while still managing to balance on sky-high heels. I enjoyed the way Boone created her character. She was completely, 100% feminine with a love for shoes (which her godfather helped cultivate), and a sense of fashion that I don’t feel like you see in non-contemporary novels these days. Maybe it’s just the books that I read, but I don’t remember many characters that dress up instead of down. 

Barrie is also a character that is stubborn and knows what she wants. She isn’t easily swayed by Eight’s handsome face, or the warnings of her Aunt Pru. If Barrie has her mind set on something, she will do it. It may not be the right choice, or the safest, but she is a character who belongs to herself. She makes decisions for her own sake and she is the one who decides her fate. A character like this is hard to come by these days.

4. A true account of a small town.
As a girl who grew up in the country just outside of a small town, I can attest that Boone’s account of a small town is 100% accurate. Everyone knows your name (and your grandparents’ name, and maybe even your great-great grandparents’ name), everyone can identify your truck -even if it is just because yours is the only one with a gun rack on the back, and yes, everyone knows when there’s a new girl in town. Believe me, all of this stuff spreads like wildfire and is completely accurate. Boone captures this so well that I secretly wonder if she actually is from a small southern town.

Final Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book from cover to cover. The characters of Barrie and Eight were lovable, and I feel like readers can identify well with Barrie’s constant feeling of loss. This book touches on just how consuming a small town can be, and even more so for the towns that have magic lighting the rivers on fire and shadows lurking behind every corner. If you love anything remotely suspenseful, romantic, with just a dash of madness, this book is most definitely for you.

I gave this book 5 stars on my Goodreads.


  1. The cover is gorgeous! It is what first caught my eye of this novel. Not to mention that I love Gothic books, and now you tell me it's really good with the Gothic element. Sign me up!

    1. Then you will definitely enjoy this read! I really enjoyed it! :)


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