Written by Claire Legrand
Published by Katherine Tegen Books, Feb 22, 2022
Star rating – DNF
Her name is unimportant.
All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain–an evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.
She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.
Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?
It didn’t seem fair to write about Extasia and call it a “review”. I didn’t finish it so I feel like that word doesn’t apply. This is more like my thoughts and reasons for setting this book aside. So diary it is. I’m going to be mentioning specific things that made me decide the book wasn’t for me. Those things happen within the first 50 pages and spoil nothing in the end, but I’m warning you in case you don’t want to be spoiled in any way.
I’m always so careful when I request books from publishers. I make sure that it’s something I’m really excited to read and feel like it has a high chance of being something I’ll love. Publishers take time and money to send me something so I want to be sure it has a probability of being a positive review, and this book had so many things that I was excited for! During the HCC Frenzy event, there was so much buzz about this book! People seemed to love it that had read it already. And it had everything I could want in a book – horror, cults, witches, female/female romance, magic, a mother with a terrible past, a girl that’s set to make things right… the list goes on! The more they talked about the book, the more I was convinced I was going to love it. Sometimes things just don’t work out that way I guess. But I tried. I made it to part 3, page 249, before finally making the call to DNF. It was still a hard decision.
Claire Legrand is an author i’ve heard about for years but haven’t picked up one of her books yet. This felt like my chance. Almost immediately, I fell in love with her writing. The language is a bit “old english” in style, but not so much that it’s difficult to follow. But it was the way that she described things. It was so unexpected and interesting. But the writing wasn’t enough to keep me.
But it was page 15 that stopped me in my tracks and put the seed of doubt about the book. The character says “Sly, serious Samuel. Someday he will put a baby in me. Maybe two or five.” What. The. Hell. The very next chapter she walks in on her sister masturbating and harps on her for sinning. I get it, ok. I understand why the author wrote the characters in this way. These are young innocent girls, raised to be a certain way. Religion is strong, God is all knowing, girls are seen and not heard, women take care of the house and children – that sort of thing. So I completely understand. But the way this book went about the messages was just cringy as hell and made my skin crawl. Yet, at the same time, these innocent young girls are Saints? You heard me right. This town appoints 4 young girls to sainthood, charging them with the task of keeping the town from evil. BUT – the moment they get their periods and they become women, they’re no longer saints, and are removed to become someones wife and mother…..
And then there’s the religion. I’m not religious in any way. I used to be. And this was highly religious in the beginning. Once again, it has a point to the entire plot, but that also just didn’t work for me. It very much reminded me of something I read in summer bible camp… mixed with the book The Grace Year and the movie The Village. People are groomed to think and act a certain way. The way of the world is removed from the population so that no one is aware. Anyone who thinks differently is cast aside to protect the way of life.
I totally understand what the author was trying to do with this book. From very early on, the message and plot is crystal clear. That’s not what I had a problem with – it was the vibe of the book in general. I’ve read so many other books with the same themes – oppression, toxic masculinity, religious grooming, abusive power structures, women taking power, etc. But the vibe rubbed me the wrong way and made me feel creepy. The characters were awful and I didn’t enjoy them. The pace was slow. So many things put together that made the book a weird experience. Like I said, maybe it was the intent of the author to write it in this way, but I’m just not the right audience to appreciate it.
Until next time, happy reading!