TITLE: The Buried and the Bound
AUTHOR: Rochelle Hassan
PUBLISHER: Roaring Book Press
RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2023
GENRES: YA Fantasy
REPRESENTATION: BIPOC, Queer
As the only hedgewitch in Blackthorn, Massachusetts—an uncommonly magical place—Aziza El-Amin has bargained with wood nymphs, rescued palm-sized fairies from house cats, banished flesh-eating shadows from the local park. But when a dark entity awakens in the forest outside of town, eroding the invisible boundary between the human world and fairyland, run-of-the-mill fae mischief turns into outright aggression, and the danger—to herself and others—becomes too great for her to handle alone.
Leo Merritt is no stranger to magical catastrophes. On his sixteenth birthday, a dormant curse kicked in and ripped away all his memories of his true love. A miserable year has passed since then. He’s road-tripped up and down the East Coast looking for a way to get his memories back and hit one dead end after another. He doesn’t even know his true love’s name, but he feels the absence in his life, and it’s haunting.
Desperate for answers, he makes a pact with Aziza: he’ll provide much-needed backup on her nightly patrols, and in exchange, she’ll help him break the curse.
When the creature in the woods sets its sights on them, their survival depends on the aid of a mysterious young necromancer they’re not certain they can trust. But they’ll have to work together to eradicate the new threat and take back their hometown… even if it forces them to uncover deeply buried secrets and make devastating sacrifices.
Rochelle Hassan grew up reading about dragons, quests, and unlikely heroes; now she writes about them, too. She is the author of the middle-grade novel The Prince of Nowhere and young adult fantasy novel, The Buried and the Bound. She lives in New York
This was phenomenal! It was just the right amount of dark for me – full of creeping dread and a constant level of darkness that you don’t usually find in fantasy books. Like a Sabriel level of darkness. There were plot twists upon plot twists, and always revealed at the exact right time to make an impact and change the direction of the plot. And while the groundwork was carefully laid, several of them took me by surprise.
I never felt like the plot was forced into the ‘standard’ YA formula. I was dreading a typical love triangle and am so relieved that this is not that at all. In fact I love this, the bonds between each of the characters, the secrets and the trust. I have become used to checking the percentage on my kindle as a way to gauge what will happen next – but that didn’t work here. The story shifted and changed and breathlessly barreled towards the end without ever letting up or falling into the standard back and forth I am used to. I loved it and I couldn’t tear myself away.
I LOVED the characters. Aziza is practical and competent and I loved seeing her grow as a hedgewitch. Leo was warm and caring and it hurt to see the effects of the curse on him. Tristan was desperate and in a lot of pain and I really felt for him. I loved how their lives slowly twined together as the story progressed, and how three seeming strangers became inseperable and bound together. I can’t wait to see where the next installment takes them.
I love how the story explored the boundaries and margins of things. The way Leo fought constantly against the edges of his curse. The practicalities and difficulties of Tristan being homeless. The way Aziza spent her time protecting the boundary between Blackthorn and Elfhame. The way the hag pushed up against both of those and was neither. The boundaries between love and friendship and trust and curses and lies.
The darkness was all-encompassing and weighed on everything, but there was just enough light to counter it that it never felt too oppressive or too much.
The writing was gorgeous. It was absolutely perfect for the story, and there were phrases that really stood out to me and stuck with me because of how beautiful they were. Darkly beautiful, but beautiful all the same.
I am SO glad it’s going to have a sequel(s) because I don’t want to leave this world or these characters and there is so much more to be discovered.
I would recommend this to people who enjoyed Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom books (Sabriel), Libba Bray’s Great and Terrible Beauty trilogy, Holly Black’s Cruel Prince trilogy and Darkest Part of the Forest, Margaret Rogerson’s Vespertine, Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series, and maybe also Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series. Stories of magic and darkness and terrifying, creeping evil and traditional fae and characters who are determined and hold just enough light to counter the darkness of their worlds.
*Thanks to NetGalley, Macmillan Children’s and Colored Pages Blog Tours for providing an early copy for review.