I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Released: March 8, 2022
Genre: Young Adult
What happens when Jewish mythology collides with the modern day? This book.
Hannah, her bother Gabe, and her mom have spent Hannah’s entire life moving from place to place. But then on her seventeenth birthday she wakes up with golden snake eyes, which are gone the next day and replaced by another seemingly-impossible mutation. Her mom leaves promising she knows someone with the cure but then doesn’t come back for weeks. Hannah and Gabe end up on an adventure to find their mom and the truth, and instead find a family they never knew about and a crazy history dating back to before the Nazi occupation of Prague. Hannah is left trying to uncover old family secrets to break the curse and save her family.
At the start of this book, I honestly wasn’t too excited. It feels very much like any other YA contemporary, with Hannah having an existential crisis figuring out who she is and what she wants. Although there’s nothing wrong with that kind of book, it obviously wasn’t what I was looking for in this fantasy novel. But as the story progressed, we got deeper into the Jewish mythology (or real-life history?) and we see Hannah blossom into a fully three-dimensional character. She still acts like a teenager (she is seventeen after all), but she starts to have more desire to understand the world around her rather than just trying to get the highest possible grades. And she learns more about herself throughout the book, which is interesting to read about.
The mystery of what’s going on with Hannah is definitely the main highlight of this book. Seeing her, Gabe, and Ari (a girl they meet during their travels) try to put pieces of the puzzle together and figure out next steps to find out more was really fun to read about. I also enjoyed seeing the glimpses of Hannah’s mom’s childhood interwoven within the larger story. There are plenty of breadcrumbs left throughout the book to figure out what’s going on, but I also think we’re in a position to really figure out the mystery/end-game at the same time as the characters do. I don’t think there are very many books based on Jewish mythology, and I liked getting the opportunity to learn more about that folklore along with Hannah. Even though that’s culturally part of my heritage, I don’t have much more knowledge than Hannah did at the beginning of the story, so I learned a lot.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story and I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes mythology-inspired stories or stand-alone fantasy books. Once I hit about the 15% mark, it was a pretty quick read and I really wanted to keep going. I would be curious to see what else this author releases as well.
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