Monday, August 5, 2019

Clarissa's Warning by Isobel Blackthorn - Book Review

Book: Clarissa's Warning

Author: Isobel Blackthorn
Publisher: Creativia
Publishing date: 30 November 2018

Clarissa's Warning by Isobel Blackthorn is a brilliant novel set on the Spanish Canary Island of Fuerteventura! Simply WOW!

The book begins with a strong opening both in terms of story and tone. The idea of the warning is delivered in the first chapter, keeping the reader on edge throughout the book.

Clarissa's Warning is narrated in the first person perspective of Claire Bennet, who often talks about herself in the third person in a humorous way. Claire is a British bank teller, who has won a lottery making her a millionaire. Now she's bent on buying and renovating a ruin on the island of Fuerteventura, which is the second largest of the Canary Islands.

"The stubborn Senor Cejas had not come across the likes of Claire Bennet, a woman fixated on a dream, a woman prepared to offer fat in excess of the already overly inflated amount offered by the government."

This is not my first read for Isobel Blackthorn, whose prose continues to inspire and captivate. In 2017, I read and reviewed The Drago Tree and conducted an exclusive interview with Blackthorn.

"Despite the wind, there were pockets of stillness and the ruin exuded a timeless quality. Embedded in its dilapidated stated remained faint echoes of its history, overlaid with sorrow, as though the very stones and ancient timbers mourned their former selves, when they were united as one, strong and proud and true."

One of the things I liked about Clarissa's Warning was how Blackthorn kept the reader and the protagonist, Claire, guessing if there is a paranormal element at play. We learn from the beginning that Claire's aunt Clarissa believes in astrology, the signs, and ghosts but are unsure if there is something paranormal about the ruin Claire acquires.

"I am not sure how to tell you this, but I thought I'd better warn you. I wish you'd told me before you went ahead and bought the place…You have Moon and Saturn both in the twelfth house, the house of sorrows."

As the book progresses, Claire meets a photographer who is interested in the ruin she is renovating and obsessed by late travel writer Olivia Stone. The photographer, Paco, is convinced that Olivia Stone had once lived in Claire's ruin and that if the ruin housed a ghost, it would be Stone's.

"The workmen believed the house was cursed and a curse could mean only one thing – something terrible and tragic had happened there. Maybe Olivia Stone died there and her ghost was trapped for some reason.

On Fuerteventura, Claire is literally alone. She tries to make friends but isn't always successful considering how people look at her, the British millionaire who acquired a possibly haunted ruin on their island. Bit by bit, she comes to rely on Paco and gets close to him.

One thing that struck me about Clarissa's Warning was the pace. I can't decide if it was quick or slow. It includes Claire's day-to-day activities and some days it's uneventful but still the pace was quick in a way. I can't decide but I enjoyed it – the book and the pace. :D

"Aunt Clarissa said the spirits of the dead became trapped on the earthly plane due to their intense emotions."

As Claire moves into her half rebuilt home and begins to settle in, thoughts and memories of her mother, who had died in a tragic accident when she was a child, begin to resurface. Blackthorn sprinkles Claire's tragedy bit by bit in the book, but the scene with the actual accident brought tears to my eyes.

Character development is kind of different in Clarissa's Warning because Claire doesn't exactly mature, she's already sane and makes good decisions. But rather, she opens herself to possibilities she had never thought possible, like the paranormal. This allows her to take control of her house and her life.

Overall, I enjoyed the language, imagery, word choice, visual, and emotions I've found in Clarissa's Warning. I know that they say not to judge a book by its cover but having read Isobel Blackthorn before and with the cover as a bonus, I had a feeling this would be a great book. And I was right!

Overall rating: 5 stars

Note: I received a free copy of Clarissa's Warning from its author Isobel Blackthorn in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my review in any way.

Update: Clarissa's Warning by Isobel Blackthorn has made it to Nadaness In Motion's Top Books of 2019!

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