Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant

The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant
Rating: 4/5
Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: ARC Courtesy of NetGalley
File Under: Gothic Mystery

Anne Merchant has always been the weird outsider, hard not to be when you're the daughter of the local mortician, and the poorest family in their very rich ZIP code. After her mother commits suicide and Anne finds the body, her father wants her to have a better chance at life, which means being sent to a boarding school for the rich and spoilt on Wormwood Island.

Cania Christy and the island it's on is cut off from the rest of the world, no electronics and only one 15 minute phone call a week. No fraternizing with the villagers, there's even a red line painted on the ground to seperate them from the school. But Cania Christy is shrouded in mystery. Everyone at the school is obsessed with becoming Valedictorian. Everyone has a PT, something they have to live and breathe such as seduction, to become Valedictorian, and the students are graded on everything as part of the competition. Anne is mysteriously drawn to Ben, the son of Dr. Zin, the school's recruiter, who keeps dropping hints about the school.

It soon becomes clear the school isn't what it appears. Anne hears screams and gunshots in the night, students mysteriously disappear, and it turns out that the students parents paid their tuition, not in money...but in favours.  Everyone seems to be in on a secret Anne doesn't know about, and as she parts the shroud of cloak and dagger surrounding the school...she quickly wishes she hasn't.

Okay, so I was kept guessing right up until the end of the book. When the big reveal came I was sat smacking my forehead like "of course!", there's so much mystery and twists and turns, you can't guess what's going to happen next.

There's a minor love triangle that really doesn't merit being a distraction, romance isn't the main point of this book. It's a little add on, if anything. I did love the relationship between Anne and Ben especially when you find out their past. Pilot's part in the story was very intriguing. I loved the character of Molly, Ann's own Fairy Godmother to her Cinderella, and I loved the character of Anne. She's determined to find out the truth and not just accept her situation and what she's told.

The world building and the prose was fantastic. As soon as you start reading, you dive straight in to a grim and dreary world, I pictured the island as very dark and grey. This is probably one of the best mystery books I've ever written. It was creepy at points, there where splashes of romance, but there was so much mystery that was impossible to work out, and when you're told the big secret, there's still more to be uncovered.

As you read the mystery unravels, but there's more and more threads woven in to it, and more secrets and questions. It's the only Supernatural high school story with not a vampire, werewolf or fairy in sight.

The ground work has been set for what looks to be like a very popular series. The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant was fantastically written, the atmosphere oozes off the page, and the world sucks you in and traps you right until you finish reading. Not even Sherlock Holmes himself could predict what's going to happen next. A fantastically unique book that refreshes the Supernatural genre. I for one cannot wait to see what comes next!

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