Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.
In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.
That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.
First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.
My Goodreads rating: 5 marvelous stars
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I cannot even describe the effects that this book had on me. It feels like it has been forever since a book has affected my very core, enough so that I’ve found myself lying in a daze on the ground, wondering what the hell to do next.
Where to even begin?
The title of the novel itself, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, literally encapsulates everything that this book is. There is a whole lot of strangeness. There is enough sorrow to metaphorically kill a reader like me. But most importantly, there is beauty. This book is beautiful. It is fantastically nuts, but only in the best ways. I could picture a dozen ways in which this book could have fallen flat on its face, or failed completely in delivering the message it intended, or indeed come across as pretentious. It did absolutely none of these things. Leslye Walton is a genius.
“Love makes us such fools.”
The novel explores the ways in which humans fall victim to the unexplainable and inescapable snare of love. How we become ensnared by the idea. How we fight to keep it, even if it was never there at all. Even if it destroys us slowly from the inside. Through a stunning use of metaphor and lyrical prose, Walton manages to paint an amazing picture of the beauty and danger of falling in love, and she does this in such a way that a reader is never burdened with unnecessary or excessive detail. We are given just enough to let us understand what she wants us to understand, but in a wonderfully musical and deceptively complex mode of writing.
“To think Viviane was beautiful required a certain acquired taste. It was the kind of beauty perceived only through the eyes of love.”
There’s a large group of characters in this book, and I mean LARGE. And Walton has done something very few authors have been able to fully do: she made me care for each and every one of them, whether they existed in the entire book or were given a one-page existence. They were believable in a book that is completely fantastical, yet they felt more real than characters I’ve come across in more realistic fiction.
“To many, I was myth incarnate, the embodiment of a most superb legend, a fairy tale. Some considered me a monster, a mutation. To my great misfortune, I was once mistaken for an angel. To my mother, I was everything. To my father, nothing at all. To my grandmother, I was a daily reminder of loves long lost. But I knew the truth—deep down, I always did.
I was just a girl.”
This is literally the very beginning of the novel! In this short paragraph, I already fell deeply into the story, and I knew only great things would follow. That’s how you draw a reader in. Ten gold stars for you, Walton.
This book reminds me of Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor; both use myth, fantasy and magical fiction to provide stories so enriching, it doesn’t matter that nothing in the book comes close to real life. The common factor? Both authors write beautifully, their words drawing you in and encircling you in rich imagery.
In other (and more simpler) words, I was sucked right in and spat back out, swallowing a huge glass of THE FEELS on the way, and now I’m sitting in a puddle of my own tears like this:
The final third of the book shocked the living crap out of me. From the (relative) safety of the first two thirds comes a shocking finale that kicked me in the face and left me physically stunned. It didn’t feel forced, and the fact that it affected me so much shows how Walton managed to make me love a whole group of characters in such a short amount of time and space.
I seriously, seriously recommend this book to anyone and everyone, especially if you enjoy lyrical, fantastical tales that have a deeper meaning hidden between the lines. This has become one of my all-time favourites, and I want everyone to read it.
Buy this amazing book here: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Thanks so much for reading this review, and if you have any thoughts about this amazing book I’d love to hear them below! Bye for now xxxx