Thursday, March 1, 2018

Wicked Charm

*This review was originally posted on*

After moving to the murky swamps of Georgia with her family, Willow Bell is warned to stay away from her new neighbor, Beau Caldwell. He’s mysterious, cold-blooded and on the top of the suspect list for a series of murders in their small town. But there’s just something that draws Willow to him. When the dead bodies of young girls begin to surface, Willow questions whether or not she should trust her instincts about Beau. Part-murder mystery, part-love story, Wicked Charm, Amber Hart’s young adult romantic thriller will appeal to fans of Pretty Little Liars and April Henry.

On first look, you’d think that a love story set in the Okefenokee swamp—a location that also serves as a murder scene—would be odd, but somehow Amber Hart makes it work. Willow and Beau fall in love with each other from the moment Willow sets foot in the small town. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Willow and Beau. From Willow’s perspective, there’s something captivating and mysterious about Beau, and she’s determined to find out what he’s hiding. From Beau’s view, Willow is totally unlike the other girls he’s dated. She sees right through the walls he puts up to protect his heart from being broken, again.

Wicked Charm is a fun, late-night read with a charming romance and a mystery to keep you on your toes. The unusual setting of Georgia’s creepy woods and swamps made a fabulous backdrop for a serial killer’s rampage. Additionally, the multilayered characters of Gran and Grandpa Caldwell offered a different perspective from the younger generations. Charlotte, Beau’s sassy twin sister, had a cool exterior that was a refreshing contrast to Willow’s more reserved temperament. I’m new to Amber Hart’s books, but found her writing style to be simple, fast-paced and compelling. Reading Wicked Charm was like slipping into bed with a cup of coffee and a warm blanket.

Although there were things to love, the plot of the book was predictable and the main characters often read like caricatures rather than real people. Beau in particular quickly falls into the tall, dark and handsome trope. There’s not much depth to his character other than his clich├ęd “tortured” past. His reasons for picking Willow over every other girl in school was unconvincing, and their relationship felt forced. Similarly, Willow, a relatable and somewhat authoritative character, was too trusting of the people around her. She lost credibility for me when she became more focused on making out with Beau in the swamp than on the five murders that happened in the same area. Overall, the romance had little substance and the characters could have been better developed.

This book would be great for younger teens. It is not so much a mystery rather than a love story though, so I would not recommend this for people who don’t want romance taking a front-seat.

Rating: 3/5