For twenty years, the Palomas and the Corbeaus have been rivals and enemies, locked in an escalating feud for over a generation. Both families make their living as traveling performers in competing shows—the Palomas swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus, former tightrope walkers, performing in the tallest trees they can find.
Lace Paloma may be new to her family’s show, but she knows as well as anyone that the Corbeaus are pure magia negra, black magic from the devil himself. Simply touching one could mean death, and she’s been taught from birth to keep away. But when disaster strikes the small town where both families are performing, it’s a Corbeau boy, Cluck, who saves Lace’s life. And his touch immerses her in the world of the Corbeaus, where falling for him could turn his own family against him, and one misstep can be just as dangerous on the ground as it is in the trees. (Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
So…I really don’t know how I feel about this book. On one hand, I loved it; the writing was beautiful, it reminded me of The Accident Season or Daughter of Smoke and Bone in the way it flowed, while the characters reminded me of Maggie Stiefvater’s. Really, that should have been and instant reason for me to love this book with all my heart.
On the other hand, this was a romance at it’s heart, even when I wanted to know more about the preforming, more about the feud between the Palomas and the Corbeaus, more about the possible dark magic, just more.
But the book was set, dead-center, on the romance, which was frustrating. And it had so much potential to be more than just a romance.
The French Corbeau family is known for preforming high in the trees, with wings strapped to their backs. They dance on the thinnest branches, appearing weightless, even though the winds, made of wire and feathers, must weight tons.
The Latino Palomas are known for their underwater acts; the woman of their family pull on jewel-bright mermaid tails and perform haunting underwater dances.
Both families have a special “birthmark” so to speak; the Paloma’s have a small collection of fish-like scales somewhere on their body, the Corbeaus grow midnight black feathers under their hair. Both families firmly, utterly, completely believe that the other is evil, and practice dark magic. Both families believe that the only way to touch someone of the other family without getting cursed is in a fight.
Cluck Corbeau is an outsider in his own family because of his feathers; on everyone else, the feathers are a pure, dark black, but his are tipped with crimson. Lace Paloma struggles to keep up with the iron-fast rules that her abuela enforces, which is everything from keeping her weight down to not complaining, ever, about where they travel.
Cluck and Lace were never even supposed to meet. But Cluck saves Lace’s life, Lace is exiled from the Palomas, and she and Cluck fall in love.
Yes, I get that this is a Romeo and Juliet retelling, but I still feel as if some important things were pushed aside in favor of the love story. And, at the same time, I was confused. Apparently some of each family’s superstitions are true, but at the same time, some aren’t? I had a hard time sorting out which were true and which weren’t.
Basically, this book was confusing and frustrating to me, and yet it was beautiful and I loved it at the same time. I feel extremely conflicted about it.
What do you guys think of books like this? I don’t read a lot of magical realism, but for those who do, is it pretty common for the genre to be slightly confusing?