|Willow Bell thinks moving to the Okefenokee area isn’t half bad, but nothing prepares her for what awaits in the shadows of the bog.
Girls are showing up dead in the swamp. And she could be next.
When yet another girl he knew dies, though, Willow questions whether she can trust her instincts…or if they’re leading to her own death.
If you follow my blog, you know that I have been a fan of Amber Hart’s work for a very long time. She never fails to surprise me with a quick, thick plot with surprising twists and turns as well as fresh and diverse characters. Picking up this book, I knew Hart would not disappoint me and it was not until I literally reached the last page of the book that I even realized what just even happened.
Something that you will instantly notice about the book is its thick and loaded prevailing mood. The setting certainly contributes to the book’s mysterious atmosphere — set in the swamps of Georgia, it gave the reader a dark, lurking feeling, an ambiguity of being trapped, yet you are never truly alone. I don’t think the author could have chosen a better setting for the story and it definitely added to the book’s mysterious undertone.
Even more, Hart does such an amazing job integrating the Southern elements into the story which is reflected in the characters’ way of talking and acting. This is exactly why Willow’s was voice so unique and unforgettable to read — readers will fall in love with the many ways of her saying “Bless your heart”, the way she curses as well as her stubborn and straightforward personality. Willow is an easily likeable character, even if it’s only for her brisk and candid approach to every situation.
Writing from a dual POV, we also get to experience the story from Beau’s perspective which makes the plot even more intriguing and mysterious. While I do have to admit that I could never get a perfect grip on his character, I was instantly drawn to his wicked personality which also showed patches of vulnerability and uncertainness. I wished he would have had a more original past story to tell though. After finding out about his and his sister tragic background, I still couldn’t completely understand his reckless and almost disrespectful behavior towards girls at his school. Willow however can easily put him in his place and they just have a very bold chemistry. The romance however never stands in the foreground since the book never loses focus on the real question — who is the murderer and what are his motives?
I think now is also a good point to mention how well the author interweaves diversity into the story. Beau and his sister Charlotte are half-Filipino, Willow’s best friend is of creole and African American descent. Seeing different cultures represented in her book makes me love the author even more because it never feels forced or randomly pressed into the book — it rather adds to the characters’ depth and complex relationships.
All minor characters, especially her grandmother — prickly and brusque at first — have something interesting to tell, revealing more and more emotions such as fear and regret which makes the plot even more weighted and wicked. Hart writes with such a linear precision, you just know that every chapter is important to the climax of the book. Not everyone is truthful to his story, and with Willow and Beau, the reader slowly uncovers the truths from the lies.
Wicked Charm was a quick, fast-paced and easy-to-read kind of book which goes down like a gulp of water. While I would not necessarily say that the story was a one-of-its-kind type of story, it definitely gave me some happy reading hours. Trust me, I was often tempted to just flip to the last page of the book, but luckily I didn’t, all thanks to the author’s gripping way of writing. Reading Wicked Charm will make you realize how much you missed reading YA thrillers.