COMPULSION by Martina Boone: A Review

Compulsion, published in 2014, is the first book in the “Heirs of Watson Island”series. Three young adults, the summer before their senior year of high school, find themselves thrown together on Watson Island, representatives of their ancestors who had complex and intertwined lives.

Barrie, the main character of Book I, has the family “gift” of finding lost things, and often finds herself compelled and drawn toward loss whether it be physical loss or emotional.  The old, run-down mansion belonging to her Aunt Pru, which has been converted into a tea room, reeks with loss of both kinds. Her mother, Lula, Aunt Pru’s twin, dies, and her guardian “uncle ” Mark is diagnosed with a terminal illness, so Barrie is sent to live with her aunt.

“Eight,” son of “Seven,” a gorgeous young man, who is leaving for college in the fall to get away from Watson island, also has a family “gift.” His is the “gift” of knowing what people want, and knowing how to manipulate them with an offer to provide it to them. Their chemistry in the novel is strong and electric.

A third family, represented by Barrie’s female cousin, the third leg of the “triangle,”has inherited from her family as well. Not a “gift” but a “curse,” the Cosworth curse.

The plot keeps the reader turning pages through the twists and turns. Barrie trusts, then is betrayed, and often talked into trusting again by her peers.

As Barrie deals with the spirits of the island and draws closer to her Aunt, they discuss whether to investigate the secrets of the three families in the past: Barrie says, “Would you want an answer even if it was going to hurt you to know it”? Aunt Pru replies, “It’s not knowing that makes it impossible to move on from where you are.”

Boone’s  writing style is outstanding, often zeroing in on the best way to express emotions and reactions. Here is an example in her description of Barrie’s panic attacks: “Maybe that’s what panic attacks were, caged hearts fluttering their wings, trying to fly but unable to go anywhere.”     Lovely writing, pleasurable reading.