I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up Blackheath by Gabriella Lepore, but I was blown away by its elegant decay, dark mystery, and teenage humor. I’m not a huge YA Fantasy fan, and I’m burnt out on books about magic, yet Gabriella’s enchanting writing style, and the originality of the plot, had me hooked.
Blackheath tells the story of a teenage girl named Maggie who discovers she has been cursed. The only person who can help her is Joel, who Maggie actively dislikes. They live in a small town in the English (or Welch?) country side, where Maggie stays in a boarding school and Joel resides in a creepy, decrepit mansion. The mix of contemporary situations with magical witchcraft felt very real, and I found myself rooting for both main characters as well as their various family members and friends.
As an author as well as a reader, I’ve gone over Blackheath again and again in my head to try and pinpoint how Gabriella crafted a book with such a special tone. I think its because the third person narration doesn’t just alternate from Maggie and Joel’s point of view, the narration itself has a touch of voice. Not enough voice that the narration becomes a fleshed-out narrator, but just enough that the reader feels like they are on the inside of a joke, a club, or special secret. The way the aunts, teachers, and kids at school get nicknamed for example. It’s deliciously snarky.