One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.
Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.
Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.
Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.
- Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
- Pages: 288
- Edition: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK, Paperback (March 2019)
[Published January 2019 | Source: Goodreads]
Since I’m really into mythology, I was initially drawn to this book because of the Medusa reference. I was thrilled to read something about one of the most intriguing figures of ancient Greece, but it turns out there’s not much Medusa-esque scenes in the story except for the snakes growing out of someone’s head and a curse. Nevertheless, I still genuinely had a great time reading this creepy yet softie book.
The story follows Milla, a young girl who grew up in a farm. She feels isolated despite being surrounded by her family. All her life she’d known only five people: her father, mother, brother, and their neighbors—Trude and Stig. Although she loves her brother dearly, she grew up feeling slightly jealous of him because their parents treat him favorably. She, too, wants their attention and approval. She wants them to accept her just the way she is and not be bound by rules on how to act properly as a girl. She wants to stop apologizing for acting like herself. But in a society where acting against its expectation means you’re being possessed by a demon, her parents cannot allow such strangeness. And so when Iris arrived next door, it was like a breath of fresh air to Milla, finally a sixth person!
Milla and Iris immediately became friends. Milla loves Iris’ stories and the fact that she came from the village she’s been wanting to visit but was never allowed to do so. Little did Milla know that Iris brought something sinister with her from the village: a curse.
During the first few pages, It felt like I was reading a prose or a nursery rhyme. You know what I mean? sometimes when the words are to rhyme-y and flowery it kinda gets tiring to read. But as the story progresses, I eventually enjoyed the writing style. I don’t know if it got better or it’s the “mere-exposure effect” but I really did end up liking it. I applaud how descriptive the author is. It made me feel like I was there with Milla watching the scenes unfold before my very eyes.
I love how this book showed how women were treated back then. How they were expected to behave and act in a certain way, and how their roles were already paved from the moment they were born. I remember her mother saying something to Milla about how she has been raised to please, that a woman’s role is to please (probably not the exact words but something like that). And because of this expectation, any girl who acts against it is considered strange and or possessed by a demon. Either way, they would still end up in The Place.
The Place is where Iris was taken among with other demon girls. Some are cursed, some are strange, and some just got angry and acted on it. But The Place and the people running it do not distinguish possession from girls just acting on their emotions. They will all be taken. Milla cannot let this happen to her dear friend, Iris. And so she embarked on a journey to find The Place and free Iris, despite her own secret growing out of her head.
This is a story about family, forgiveness, friendship, freedom, and feminism. Beautifully written and packed with feels. I love how it kept me guessing—I didn’t figure out the solution until I was deep into reading the book.
The only draw back for me is the ending, I feel like it was a bit rushed. You know that moment when you’re reading a book and there are only few pages left but the conflict hasn’t been resolved yet? That. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the ending. It was very emotional. I just hoped I got to see more. I don’t know what else I wanted to see but it left me wanting for more (probably just me being greedy and wanting to read more creepiness, really).
All in all it was a good book and a very quick read. Perfect for a lazy afternoon or if you’re wanting to read something creepy and filled with lessons at the same time. And because I really did enjoyed it, I’d love to read more from the author. I’m thinking of getting her debut novel The Beast is an Animal as it’s been getting a lot of love in the reading community.
Have you read any of Peternelle van Arsdale’s works? what are your thoughts?
“Girls who run from what frightens them don’t get what they want.”—Hel, The Cold is in her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale
4 / 5