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Book Review: Step beyond the veil in “The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond”

“American Horror Story” (season 2, of course) meets “The Night Circus” in Amanda Glaze’s debut novel “The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond.”

Set in 1885 Sacramento, seventeen-year-old twins Edie and Violet Bond perform in a spiritualist show alongside a dozen other women performing under the guise of communing with the dead. The difference between Edie and Violet’s acts and the rest of the troupe is that the Bond twins are mediums–Violet can open the veil between life and death. At the same time, Edie can cross into the afterlife.

When Violet’s act goes wrong one night, Edie learns a dark spirit that killed their mother has been set loose in the city while someone is kidnapping and killing mediums. With the help of a curious journalist, the twins must find the killer or risk being next.

With all their quirks and powers, Edie and Violet are just like any other teenage girls–trying to figure out themselves, falling in and out of love, and rebelling against the societal norms that tell them to be quiet, be smaller, or more ladylike. The character growth of the twins was marvelous to read and was essential in the conflict of “The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond.”

I’ve read my fair share of psychic or circus-esque historical novels–think “The Night Circus”–yet Glaze’s rendition of the niche genre is a delight. Glaze mentions in the beginning that “The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond” was inspired by a photograph of her great-grandmother and her sister. Additionally, the entire novel was well-researched and refused to hold back on the realities of being a woman–from women’s rights and suffrage to mental health asylums–in 1885.

Glaze’s theatrical writing style draws you in immediately; nonetheless, parts of the first half dragged. Occasionally, the novel felt like we were nearing the climax but puttered out until the actual climax–a well-worth-it wait. Once the book's second half comes around, it’s hard to put “The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond” down, and the twists and turns the novel takes will have you on the edge of your seat.

A thrilling dip into the paranormal and historical, “The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond” is a novel begging to be read. Every part theatrical and spiritual, Glaze’s debut is set to be one of the best YA novels of the year.

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