Plot/Idea: Rose's Avalina is a story of a young woman seeking revenge, only to have her plans thwarted by love. Not quite a romance, the story blends mysticism into a modern-day thriller that keeps readers intrigued from the beginning to the end.
Prose: Rose writes in a straightforward manner that keeps the story moving forward quickly. While a bit more attention to detail would add a bit more texture to the story, he is able to still narrate well each sequence of events.
Originality: If I Know What You Did Last Summer, Pretty Little Liars, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch were placed in a blender, the result would resemble Manuel Rose's Avalina. The main original element that deviates from these possible inspirations is using the COVID pandemic as a present-day timeframe.
Character Development/Execution: While the overall story flows well, more attention could be given to the description of supporting characters. Characters often come off as stereotypical in their roles, requiring more complexity and depth.
Date Submitted: August 19, 2022
Avalina’s gruesome murder of course elicits reader sympathy, though her lack of self-reflection, empathy, and personal growth makes it challenging to connect with her. The opening chapter includes a graphic masturbation scene, featuring the fifteen-year-old hero, that seems to dare readers to set the book aside. Elsewhere, Rose reduces women to their “pretty” features and “fairly large and shapely breasts,” their characters often either sex objects or victims of sexual assault. Avalina, meanwhile, lacks empathy for the women she imprisons while possessing their bodies and plays a hand in their oppression. In her quest for revenge, Avalina possesses the body of Joan, a 21-year-old woman, proceeding to have sex with Joan’s boyfriend despite Joan’s internal protests, and crudely dismisses Joan’s worries about pregnancy.
Simply put, the material is dark, perhaps pointedly so, as Rose favors shock and outrage over the development of tension. The storyline offers as many twists as it does reasons for sensitive readers to balk. Some welcome human warmth enters the tale in the form of Avalina’s mother, who does everything in her power to serve as the voice of reason.
Takeaway: A pointedly dark witchcraft thriller in which a young woman invokes the dark arts to seek revenge.
Great for fans of:Richard Laymon, Russ Martin.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A