In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.
Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.
Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?
When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.
A 12 Dancing Princess retelling? Say no more. I was beyond excited to read this book and I was lucky enough that my fellow Capricorn moon signs wanted to buddy read it for the Zodiacathon. It was the perfect read to start off the Spooky Season.
Let’s start off with the atmosphere. The setting was an island that worships the sea. That’s a place I could live in. It starts off with the fourth funeral of one of Annaleigh’s sisters. So, right from the start, it’s a little creepy and grim. It continues like that for the rest of the story. You can almost feel the atmosphere. Foggy and rainy, murder and mystery. It’s the perfect October read.
At first, I had trouble keeping the sisters straight. There’s so many of them, even the ones who died. Trying to remember who was who and who was dead or alive was confusing, but I did figure it out after about 100 pages. I really enjoyed our main character Annaleigh, but I feel like because there were so many sisters and other side characters, we really only got the chance to get to know a few of them. We got to know the stepmother, who I alternated between loving and hating several times. Fisher, who I also both loved and hated for different reasons. And a few of the sisters. I would have liked to go more than surface deep for the other characters. Cassius especially. Though I’m still obsessed with him, we didn’t really get to know him that well. We learn who his parents are, but not what he likes and doesn’t like and things like that. It was similar with a few other characters too.
The mystery was really great. I suspected almost every character except the sisters at one point or another. I really love books that keep me guessing and this one did. While I did predict (but then convince myself I was wrong) the identity of the big bad, there was so much more to the mystery than I could ever have predicted. I loved that the mystery was so much more than I anticipated.
Overall, I completely loved this book. I am excited to see what else Erin Craig comes out with. I loved the main character and Cassius. I loved the setting, the mystery, and most of all the atmosphere. I also really enjoyed the twist on the 12 dancing princesses’ story. This is a must-read if you like fantastical retellings and spooky reads.
Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.