When I started reading this book, I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I had never read a Luanne Rice novel before and I only knew that I liked the cover. And that I liked weird novels. The blurb promises a story of two generations meeting, estranged sisters and a family tragedy. It reminded me a lot of Purge and that, unfortunately, raised my expectations to unrealistic proportions. Where Oksanen uses a family tragedy to describe the horrors of two or three lost generations, Rice's story is smaller. So much more intimate. She contents herself with describing a family tragedy on a more personal level. She explores how abuse affects not only those within the immediate family unit, but the people around them, the extended family and their friends. Clare watches her sister's new husband isolate her from everyone she's known before. Parent's and sister aren't welcome in their house; they are something to be left behind. Clare watches her sister change from afar until she can't take any longer. She picks a time for a visit and tries to reconnect with her sister. Instead of taking Anne and her children away, Clare ends up saving her sister's life and being sent to jail for an assault. Eighteen years later, it's time for Clare's niece to visit unexpectedly. I was really looking forward to reading about Clare dealing with her sister's betrayal and trying not to project those feelings onto her niece, Grit. Instead, I read about her unrealistic forgiveness and neverending longing for the sister of her childhood. I've seen what a betrayal of a close family member does. to a person. I've seen what taking them to court and lying there does. When someone who is your flesh and blood does that to you, you don't simply turn on the blinders and say: "He made her do it. He's at fault." No. You pretend they're dead, because what kind of mother does that to her child. Not a living one. Only bond closer than the one between a mother and a daughter I can imagine is that one between two sisters. A sister who betrays you isn't a sister at all. People react differently, you say. They do, but wholly without anger? I think not. Clare never expresses any anger or rage at her sister. She's the virtuous, too good to be true woman who forgives. That's where this novel fails, for me. It wasn't in the wonderfully fantastical, fairytaleish quality of the writing. It wasn't focusing on more than one person's point of view. It wasn't even in my pet peeve of switching between first and third person limited narratives. It was in the lack of character growth for Clare. She might have learned to open herself up to Paul, but she never really worked through her issues with her sister. At least Grit went through the stages of grief and dealing with her hate and anger and rage against her mother. At least Grit admitted she'd been betrayed and learned to forgive. The story of these three women could have been truly magical instead of just pretending to be it. I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.