by Lana Popović
All the women in Iris and Malina’s family have the unique magical ability or “gleam” to manipulate beauty. Iris sees flowers as fractals and turns her kaleidoscope visions into glasswork, while Malina interprets moods as music. But their mother has strict rules to keep their gifts a secret, even in their secluded sea-side town. Iris and Malina are not allowed to share their magic with anyone, and above all, they are forbidden from falling in love.
But when their mother is mysteriously attacked, the sisters will have to unearth the truth behind the quiet lives their mother has built for them. They will discover a wicked curse that haunts their family line—but will they find that the very magic that bonds them together is destined to tear them apart forever?
We follow Iris and Malina, twins, who just happen to have a magic that only their family seems to possess. They live sheltered lives in almost hiding, never allowed to let anyone know of their gifts. But a strange woman suddenly appears at their mom’s cafe and everything changes after.
So this book is interesting. The magic in it is beautiful though hard to imagine, I don’t know if its because even the author doesn’t know how to describe it or there isn’t the right words for it. I found it a bit hard to understand at times. It’s an interesting idea, the idea of enhancing the senses in this way and having it be how the magic works in this story. Though I admit, what Iris’s magic of adding to the sense of sight reminded me of my visual disorder. Though it’s less fun and more annoying at times as well as beautiful. Unlike Iris, I can’t make things bloom and what not, but I see spots and colors and constant static in my vision that sometimes reminds me of fireflies. Which did annoy me a bit because sadly, what I have isn’t magic and it isn’t always beautiful. I wish there had been more to, a darker side or parts she didn’t like with it, but from what it seems, it’s just beautiful.
As for the characters, it’s a little complicated. The story deals heavily with abuse in different forms. Their mother is both physically abusive but also verbally. And Iris is learning it from her and does it back to her mother. But her mother we learn came from a very controlling and abusive family herself. It’s important this takes place in Eastern Europe, but that doesn’t excuse abuse, even if things aren’t the same in certain aspects as in the West. This honestly made me uncomfortable and made me question the story a bit if it was for me. But I kept reading to better get an idea of it and got hooked on the beauty of the words.
As for the plot, it was really interesting, if not a bit slow. It started out alright, having had to set things up and then it picked up fast. And there were plenty of twists I didn’t see coming at all. It kept me guessing and I found it did so well. Even what I did guess I didn’t guess fully. There was always more to it. But just before I finished the story slowed to a crawl. I seriously almost stopped at about 95% more than once and took me a few days just for that. I think it could have easily cut a good amount of it or summed it up easier and didn’t leave the reader a bit frustrated when the story had been so good up to that point.
Do I recommend? Yes and no. If you’re triggered by abuse, stay away from it. But if you love magic and the beauty that words can do, I do recommend it. It’s also a pretty great diverse amount of characters from Iris and Malina who are half Asian, to a gay couple, to Romani family that they are good friends with. I think that in itself is partly worth it.
Rating: 3 stars