How far would you go to fit in? Sorana Salem is ok with being not quite bottom of the pile at her exclusive private school. Until the mysterious Johansson twins arrive unexpectedly mid-term. Hypnotically beautiful and immensely cool, magnetic Elyse and mute Melanie aren’t like the school’s usual identikit mean girls. Soon Sorana’s sharing sleepovers and Saturday nights out with the twins. But their new world of Ouidja boards and older boys might not be as simple as it seems. And the dark secrets that they share could be about to take Sorana down a path that’s impossible to turn back from…
I had no expectations about this book other than the author's reassurances that it was pretty spooky. That it was, and even though it took a while to get to that point, it was intriguing and weird enough for me to be gripped from the start.
Sorana is in sixth form at her very small, private school and when two new girls join their year half way through the school term, things are shaken up. As soon as the twins arrive, you get the feeling that they are just... wrong. They don't quite fit in and mess with the social system, plus they are very creepy. Elyse is strong-voiced and has a wicked attitude while Melanie is practically silent and so under Elyse's thumb it's stupid. As the protagonist, Sorana was a big part of the story and told from her perspective, we can only understand things as she understand's them. This sometimes leaves the reader in a lurch, which was on purpose because Sorana was so infatuated with having the twins as friends that she did not want to believe a bad word against them. Having been where Sorana was with the peer pressure thing, I was both very sympathetic and incredibly annoyed with her. It wasn't her fault, she was pretty weak when it came to the twins but that was the point.
Once the twins have their fingers wrapped around Sorana and her friends, the book became pretty addictive. I had to know what happened, what went wrong, how they could be so weak and blind to Elyse's crazy. This crazy stemmed from a fascination with the occult. Now, I'm pretty into that myself, you know astrology and witchcraft and all that - I have an open mind. But Elyse was too... stubborn, too evil really; she just wanted power and control over everything. And this bad attitude built up and up until it had to burst. The last few chapters had this ominous feel. Actually the whole book did, like it was leading towards something terrible and you could only guess at what it could possibly be. But with Elyse's attitude and fascination with the occult, I was guessing as wildly from killing someone to rising someone from the dead. Turns out it was as bad as my guesses.
This was a fascinating read, with everything you could want from a rock 'n' roll novel, from normal teen insecurities to the wild power of the occult and things you couldn't possibly explain. It was gripping and strange and I could not put it down. As much as Sorana annoyed me, I loved how she really did try to do good; even as she didn't understand what was going on, she did not lose what made her special. And if you wanted to blame her for what happened, the situation is always different from the middle than outside looking in.
Published 7th June 2013 by Carina. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for my e-copy.