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Publisher: Flux Books
Source: Publisher provided for review through Netgalley
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A world where souls walk free and dreams become portals to the past…I am forever and eternally picking up books because they're set in New Orleans. It's simply a singular place, one I've been lucky enough to grow up very near to and able to spend countless days there. You set your book in New Orleans, I'll read it. At the same time, my familiarity makes me picky. I'm no native (just see how I navigate those one-way streets and you'll be able to tell), but I've a fair head for it. So, the setting is what sells me, but it's also likely to be my biggest sticking point. Not the case with Sweet Unrest. Lisa Maxwell does a really good job of capturing the vibe of the city and imbuing the whole book with that kind of exotic, fascinating danger that makes people visit.
Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But even her rational mind can't explain her dark and familiar dreams of a time long ago, filled with people she shouldn't know, but does. When her family moves to New Orleans, Lucy's dreams suddenly become more intense. Reluctantly drawn into the old city's mystical undercurrent, she searches for answers about the nighttime visions that haunt her.
What Lucy finds is Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they've known each other forever. They've only just met, and she shouldn't be drawn to him, but she is. As she tries to unlock Alex's secrets, a killer strikes close to home and a century-old vendetta unspools, putting Lucy and everyone she loves in mortal danger.
The plotline of Sweet Unrest is pretty similar in idea and scope to that of any number of books, but the setting and involvement of voodoo really make it interesting and allows the story the space to stand out. It's a familiar story and you think you know the conclusion (which was satisfyingly not the norm!), yet I was riveted, especially in the second half of the book, because I needed to see how everything worked out and how it all came into play.
My real niggling thing was the romance. I liked the characters together, but I also didn't feel like their relationship was given enough development (past or present, though past at least likely had missing moments, unlike present) to ever evolve into love, as it does. It's not instalove, but it's also just not solid enough for me fully to be invested and rooting for it, if that makes sense.
Atmosphere can do a lot to sell a book, and that's the story of Sweet Unrest for me. It got me to read it, and it got me invested in it. Lisa Maxwell not only captures the spirit of New Orleans, but she also quietly pulls you into the mystery until you can't put the book down until you're finished.
Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest (Flux, Fall 2014) and Heartless Things (Simon Pulse, Spring 2016). She has a PhD in English, and when she's not writing books, she’s a professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.
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