The Artisans by Julie Reece: a MUST read

Sometimes I avoid reading a book because I think the subject matter is wrong for me. That was the case with The Artisans by Julie Reece. It was reviewed as a ghost story.

First of all, horror movies are not for me. I will have nightmares for weeks. The same goes for scary books (because my imagination is every bit as good as Hollywood’s best special effects).

So even though I heard great things about this book – and interact with the author in an online critique group, I avoided reading it.

Then it went on sale for $3. Yep. I couldn’t avoid the impulse purchase.

And after finishing the book this morning, I’m not at all sad to have caved in to my baser need for books. I only wish I had snapped the thing up when it first released into print.

Summary

Raven’s stepfather’s in trouble. His alcohol problem has led to a gambling debt and getting on the nerves of the powerful Maddox family. To get him the help he needs, she agrees to live with and work for Gideon Maddox.

She thinks she’d in danger from Gideon, but she soon discovers things are not all peaceful and serene in the enormous mansion where she lives and works. While her heart fights attraction to the complex master of the house, ghosts from the past make her fight for her very life.

This is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a paranormal twist.

My Review

I’m not a fan of ghost stories. Did I already say that? Sorry. To reiterate, I don’t read ghost stories. If they don’t make me have nightmares, they make my eyes roll in disbelief.

I read to immerse myself in a different world. Why would I read something that constantly kicked me back to reality because it was unbelievable?

That is not Ms. Reece’s ghost story. She has a plausible explanation and resolution for the spirits haunting the pages of this young adult romance.

I adore Raven. From the first page to the last, I wanted her to succeed. Her backstory was complex and well-constructed and her personality had just enough contradiction to keep her believable.

I loved the banter between Raven and her two friends. Although they were minor characters, her friends were well-drawn. No cardboard cutouts here.

Although Ms. Reece did a fine job making Gideon likable, I still had trouble seeing past his veneer. Of course, that works for the first part of the story. He won me over when he chased after Raven. Seriously, I hate when guys let the girl of their dreams walk out.

The magical element – why Raven could see and hear the ghosts when no one else could – was never explained. This bummed me out a little, but didn’t keep me from loving the story.

After all, “The Force was a lot more interesting before it was explained.”

My Recommendation

If you love quirky teenage heroines, you want to read this story. If you like a little bit of ghost with your romance, you’ll find this book worth every moment you spend in its pages.

Hot guys? Yep, that’s here. Laughter and tears? Another yes. A book that’s hard to put down? Oh, yeah.

If you’re an adult, you’ll enjoy this book. The mystery and intrigue will keep you wondering. There isn’t too much angst and only a couple hot-and-heavy kisses.

Don’t let the description of “Southern gothic horror” deter you if you’re not a big paranormal fan. Is it creepy in spots? Most definitely. And I refused to read it after dark on principle.

But I could hardly wait for it to be daytime so I could start reading it again. Worth five stars in my book.

4 thoughts on “The Artisans by Julie Reece: a MUST read

  1. Loved, loved, loved this book. Of course, I love all of Julie’s writing. This was solid and dark and had just the right amount of spooky to keep me from running from the room, my arms in the air and the book on the floor. So glad to hear you liked it, too.

    1. I was surprised. Not because I don’t think Julie is a fantastic writer, but ghost stories are just NOT my thing. Of course, I used to think I wasn’t all that into sci-fi either. Until I read FIRE IN THE WOODS. Maybe, for me, it really is all about the storytelling and character development.

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