Buy or Borrow: Buy
Source: ARC courtesy of the author!
For Fans Of: Dearly, Departed.....DUH.
Sixteen year old Everrose Morgantwill is a witch, albeit a not very good one, all of her spells never work properly unless it's in aid of someone else, and everyone has trouble remembering her and her name, including her own parents! Everrose lives in the idyllic All Hollows County, a world secret from our world, protected and hidden by strong wards created by powerful witches and warlocks to protect those with magic from the persecution magic users received in our world...you know....Salem witch trials and everything. Everyone uses magic freely in All Hallows, and the ward, known as the Nestle Ward has a really, really cool side effect.....in our world it's 2015...but in All Hollows? It's 1958. Yep, they're behind us by quite a few years!
Everrose's life is about to take a turn for the complicated and ever so slightly weird, her steady boyfriend, Vincent has just returned from Currens, a trip from our world over the summer, basically, and he's not his usual self you could say. Instead of being his lovely, affectionate and kind self, he's sullen and withdrawn and has some ideas that could get him in a lot of trouble! Troubled by his behaviour, Everrose distracts herself by searching for her familiar before school starts, in between sewing new outfits, experimenting with red lipstick and daydreaming about prom, something all sixteen year olds in All Hollows do. But when she makes the Connexion....another problem surfaces.
You see she makes her connection with a huge, terrifying Wildeor called a Trothenbeast. Only very powerful witches and warlocks attract wildeors as familiars, so some are suspicious as to how she has one as a familiar, not to mention the so called best friend who's so jealous she turns her back on her. As if that wasn't weird enough, Typhon fails to alert her to the presence of magic like a familiar should do, and fails to shadow her, so he pretty much acts nothing like a familiar is supposed to. THEN she finds out Typhon...can talk. Turns out he's been cursed by a witch called Ebonella Rosu, and she wants him back.
Everrose has to face a witch who wants her dead, a familiar who needs her protection, and a boyfriend who's changing before her eyes, not to mention pushing everyone away and teaming up with the wrong person. Everrose needs help, and she's surprised to get it from a very unlikely source, her boyfriends moody and mysterious adoptive father, the Mayor, who happens to be the only person in town who ever remembers her once she's left his presence. What secrets does Roderick Olwen harbour? And what do they have to do with Everrose herself? Will she be able to keep her familiar?
"If they where any greener with envy, we could zap them through the Ward and make the Laysiders think they where being invaded by Martians"
Duuuddeee I love Lia Habel! Like seriously, I stumbled across Dearly, Departed at the library, read it, absolutely loved it and then went to buy my own copy so I could read it again and again, and don't even get me started on the second book! Still holding out/hoping for a third book! So when Lia tweeted she was working on something new....my excitement and curiosity slowly started to build, and when she finally told us what it was? And offered ARCs to bloggers? I pretty much happy danced and metaphorically shoved people out the way to email her, then when it arrived in my inbox? Total freak out, it was a while before I calmed down!
I read Familiar Things in a couple of hours, I finished at about 1am and immediately felt bereft, I didn't want to leave the world and the characters of the book behind, I wanted to carry on reading, and kept wishing new pages would appear, I totally loved it and I'm so excited there's going to be a sequel I can't even cope with my excitement for it to be released! I'm sure you've guessed that this is going to be one of those rambling with excitement, reviews that I do.
Familiar Things is the one thing I value in books above all else. It's unique. Totally and completely unique from page one, from its premise and concept to it's characters and its world. Everything is completely and totally unique and I loved every minute of it. This book is unlike anything I've read before, familiars that pick you? Wildeors? Wards protecting All Hollows that means they're behind the modern world? The different types of magic? Literally EVERYTHING!
I was hooked from page one, and it was impossible to put the book down....so I didn't. I really loved the vibe of the book, 50's with the music and the clothes and the makeup and the gadgets and everything, it was a very well created vibe that oozed off the page and was infectious, along with the atmosphere! To be honest, it kind of reminded me of Halloweentown, particularly when I realized Everrose legit has a dress with pumpkins all over it that she doesn't just wear for Halloween, so it reminded me of that, but so much better and cooler really.
The world building was so incredibly vivid, I felt like I'd been sucked in to the world, which is quite probably why I didn't want to leave ya know, I mean why would I?! There's magic everywhere. I love magic! Every single one of the characters had plenty of depth and where so very well written, there's hidden sides to everyone, and the secondary characters can very well stand on their own, even if they weren't in it much, and some of which had a bigger role than initially thought, like the Mayor for example. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of some of these secondary characters in the next book, particularly as she'll have to tell Merle and her family about her powers!
I loved Everrose, I mean she turns out to be a fairy godmother, and I didn't see that coming at all, but the explanation for her powers and what she is and the mythology behind it was so awesome and I don't really need to mention the U word again do I? You guys got the picture right? She was such a colourful character, she was strong, willing to stand up for herself when it comes down to it, and she was so loyal to Typhon and willing to do anything for anyone, she's very selfless and sympathetic to everyone, and I just totally loved her and connected with her from the go. I really, really freaking love her character more than I have words for! The same can be said for Typhon! Who was totally more than he seemed, and he was just kind of awesome really wasn't he? I mean....he talks, and he's all RAAAARRR and so loyal to Everrose and willing to do what he did to help her.
I also really liked he mayor, despite the fact I thought he was a bit of a douche in the beginning and at a few other times, like seriously, HE COULD HAVE TOLD HER I MEAN REALLY MAYOR?! But yeah. I really liked him too, the fact he was so willing to help Everrose with feeding Typhon "for the Hollow", yeah whatever Mayor, and was driving her round everywhere and just so willing to let her hang out with him and talk to her like an actual person and not a child, and the fact he actually ya know...remembers her! Everrose has no-one to really talk to and help her, and the Mayor is all "you can talk to me if you ever need someone to talk to" and I was like man...is it wrong that they're fast becoming my BROTP!? I mean he's kind of too old to be her legit BFF, but I seriously am beginning to ship them as my new BROTP, they're hilarious together, their banter had me cracking up so much, thank God I wasn't reading this in a public place! I don't even like insects and bugs, I really really hate them, won't let them near me, I literally run away screaming, but to be honest, I'll make an exception for Clackwell, he seems quite cool for an insect, I might even use the word....cute. Operating the pedals? SO CUTE.
Like I said, Familiar Things is atmospheric and the atmosphere and vibe of the book ooze off the page and pretty much engulf you and totally pass it on to you. The book really got me in the 50's mood, I'm not gonna lie, I usually do the eyeliner and red lipstick with the quiffed front hair and the ponytail, that's about as 50's as I go, and I'm fairly certain it doesn't really count, but this book has really made me be in the mood to do my makeup all 50's, I'm at acting class on Wednesday and Thursday, so I could totally get away with it! I haven't cracked out the red lipstick in agggesss mostly because I'm lazy but yeah. It's also swayed me in a clothing choice. I've found this really cool website ages ago with loads of 50's dresses and swimwear etc, and I think thanks to this book, I'm gonna take the plunge and buy some of the dresses and just do my own thing. Or ya know.....just move to All Hollows, I mean....Lia can totally make that happen...right?!
I should probably mention the lingo at this point. A lot of the time with books set in a different time, phrases native to the time are shoved everywhere and totally cliche and kind of annoys the hell out of you and sticks out like a sore thumb. The language was perfectly pitched and toned. It was subtle, it was there, but it was subtle, and very natural, so you knew it was the 50's by the language and the things mentioned, but it wasn't overdone so it seemed weird, you know what I mean? It didn't seem odd that certain phrases where used, and it didn't seem out of place, I'm really not explaining this very well, but any British person who's read a book by a US author that's set in England will know what I'm talking about, not every book, but a fair few, it's the same kind of thing and I'm going to shut up now, just know the language and the phrases etc? FANTASTIC.
The next book has subtly been set up without giving too much away, we know Vincent needs a smack upside the head, and there's going to be something going on with him in the next book, and his ideas, and see what he's doing with the dodgy guy, so we have some inclination of what's going to happen but really, that will only be a small part of the book....or it could be the main part...who knows? I don't, but I'm excited! I'm excited to see what happens, will they embrace the tech of 2015 (I hope not, I don't want to lose the 50's vibes), will Everrose end up with Vincent if he stops being a douche or will he continue to be a douche and there'll be a new romance? What will my BROTP do next?
I mentioned already that everyone has different magic abilities, so far we know that the Mayor is a necromancer, but not the usual kind, so you know, creepy and hangs with zombies, for a change he can't bring people back for more than a few hours, which was a refreshing change to the normal. And then we know Everrose is a fairy godmother, which I have never come across in a book before, and is going to present some interesting problems and dynamics in the next book I'm sure.
Now, don't lynch me for what I say next BUT, I quite enjoyed the fact that the book was focused on Everrose and her abilities and her relationship/friendship with Typhon and the bond they where forming, rather than on her romance with Vincent and how much of a douche he is, I mean their relationship was in there but it wasn't the main focus, which is rare! It was a secondary thing. The bond of friendship between Everrose and her familiar was complex and interesting to watch develop, particularly when YA is usually aaaaallll about the romance, and it's going to be interesting to see what's going to happen between her and Vincent in the next book, and their relationship and where it's going to go!
The plot, I thought, was intricate and had a lot of different threads to it, Vincent and what his problem was, the familiar issue, what Everrose is, Ebonella and so on, and it was all woven together to create a plot that totally drew you in and kept your attention the entire way through, it was engaging and entertaining and full of things going on. I was constantly surprised at all of the plot twists and turns, which isn't something I get to say often no matter how much I love a book or series, but this genuinely surprised me, I couldn't figure out what was going to happen next, and I was seriously on a rollercoaster. I wasn't expecting Vincent to go the way he did, I didn't work out what his problem was, I kind of thought he'd been hexed or something, I also wasn't expecting Everrose to be a fairy godmother, and the explanation for everyone forgetting her, I had so many crazy theories that where way crapper than the actual reason! And like I said, I was totally surprised by the Mayor as a character and him being such a nice bloke in the end!
Honestly, I don't know what Lia is worrying about! I love Dearly, Departed and I LOVED this book, I'm sure other fans of Dearly, Departed will love this book and new series too! Familiar Things is a different vibe, and a different subject matter, obviously, but it's still unique, still has Lia's unique twist and mesmerizing storytelling abilities, and whatever magic Lia works to make the atmosphere and vibe ooze off the page, totally infect you and get you in the vibe of the book, and whatever vortex/portal Lia uses to pull you in to the world! I honestly didn't want this to end and I was so sad when it did, but then Lia told me there's going to be a sequel so I'm sure I can handle the wait!