Compulsion by Martina Boone | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Compulsion by Martina Boone | Book ReviewCompulsion by Martina Boone
Series: The Heirs Of Watson Island #1
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2014-10-28
Genres: Family, Legends, Myths, Fables, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Beautiful Creatures meets The Body Finder in Compulsion, the first novel in a spellbinding new trilogy.All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lived with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead—a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions. Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family’s twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

When I look at the cover of Martina Boone’s YA debut, Compulsion, I immediately think of autumn what with the orange color scheme and all of the leaves on the cover. It’s a cover that actually makes me feel simultaneously peaceful and longing for a pumpkin spice latte, although I will admit it does not take much to trigger that pumpkin spice longing. I obtained Compulsion at a luncheon hosted by Simon & Schuster at BEA and honestly, it probably would have languished in my TBR pile for some time, had I not been invited to join the Mundie Moms tour — and what a tragedy that would have been! Seriously, I am all for books that put me in a seasonal sort of mood. While this book takes place during summer, there’s this feel of fall in the air and again, I can’t help but think autumn thoughts while reading. It is one of those quintessential Southern gothic books where the creepiness is hidden among polite words and you don’t even notice it’s going in a scary direction until THERE IT IS. Friends, this book definitely exceeded my expectations.

Barrie’s mother, Lula, has died and her mother’s personal assistant and surrogate father Mark is dying of cancer. There’s no one in San Francisco who can take care of Barrie. Not that she knows many people, given that her mother was kind of a shut in. So, Barrie is forced by circumstances to fly out to South Carolina where she must live with her new guardian, her aunt Pru, who is a virtual stranger to Barrie. Upon arrival at the airport, no one is waiting for Barrie with open arms, so she cabs it to her aunt’s island plantation home. There, Barrie meets her aunt Pru who is railing against the decrepit house and Barrie is all, what the hell did I just get myself into. However, with the arrival of a super good looking boy who goes by the name of Eight on her doorstep, Barrie is determined to fit in on Watson Island and to unlock its secrets.

Barrie is the sort of main character where I immediately felt some sympathy for her, but it took me time to really warm up to her and care about her. First off, she’s got this cool ‘gift’ where she is able to find lost things or else if she ignores the pull, she feels an ache. She is so determined to do what she wants, even to the point of disregarding Pru’s instructions and also disregarding Eight. I bring this up because Barrie has this cousin named Cassie and she is determined to be her friend, only Cassie isn’t quite the person she seems to be. In fact, there’s something sinister going on with her. Now, if this was a movie, I would want her to examine her life choices, but because this is a book, I get Barrie’s motivations and even though her choices aren’t the best, I got it and felt for her. I have to say that yes, Barrie totally did end up winning me over in the end, even if parts of Compulsion felt like a learning curve, when it came to liking Barrie’s character.

Assuming you’ve taken a glance at the cover, chances are that you realize Compulsion contains romance. Barrie and Eight have this instant attraction. Only, Barrie feels this strong pull to her new home on Watson Island and has what feels like a physical inability to leave it, whereas Eight has the deepest desire to get out of dodge, play baseball in college, and never look back. Furthermore, Barrie isn’t so sure she can trust her relationship with Eight because he’s got some secrets too. I won’t tell you what they are except to say that he also has an ability like Barrie has an ability. There is kissing though. I am not 100% in love or swooning my face off with this romance, but it’s not terrible and actually makes sense.

Boone’s debut encompasses a whole lot of creepy, leading right up to an explosive ending. There’s something unsettling about the book, but as the world building and setting of Compulsion is explored, that feeling gets stronger and stronger. There are age old feuds. There are spirits who don’t seem to have a clear moral state (good or bad, it’s hard to tell at first). There’s a Fire Carrier, which I am still not entirely sure I understand, but yay magic! There’s definitely SECRETS galore, including a sort of mystery and some SHOCKS. The setting feels heavy and oppressive, but eventually not so sinister. This is a book that I really enjoyed because of the atmospheric writing and how it totally consumed me. I would recommend this if you want to be transported by words on the page to a world that could coexist with our current world. ALSO, the ending. This book says it is the first in a series, but the ending is not a cliffhanger and actually wraps the story up quite well.

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I recently read and really enjoyed Compulsion! I loved that there was no cliffhanger – I seriously don’t like cliffhangers 😀 I’m excited about book two!

    Excellent review, April 🙂

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  2. Ooh, another novel set in the South! I always like giving those a shot, since that particular area and the culture of it fascinate me. Plus, this sounds compelling (See what I did there?). I’m glad you found the mystery and the characters both challenging and interesting!


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