Hi everyone! I’ve got a string of ARC reviews coming up because I managed to finish a group of upcoming releases and need to get the reviews out before they release! The first of the group is Oleander, which is a YA paranormal fantasy and I believe it’s self published or indie published. I initially found out about this book via Netgalley when I was browsing for upcoming fantasy releases!
by Jennifer Allis Provost
Series: Poison Garden #1
Release date: June14th 2021
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Eli tried to leave the supernatural life behind. Problem is, it won’t let her go.
Eliza “Eli” Moore may have been born a seer, but she didn’t want to live like one. That was why she became a private detective, and opened Nine Lives Investigations. Being able to talk to the dead gives her an undeniable edge in solving cases, and she figured it was all for the greater good. Then Eli is forced to exorcise a demon, the local witch elder ends up dead, and Eli fears she’s in over her head.
Throughout it all, Eli has one dedicated ally: Dan, mortal police detective who isn’t scared of things that go bump in the night, and who hints he wants to be more than friends. But mortals and seers don’t mix…do they?
Before Eli can sort out how she feels about Dan, an enemy from her past resurfaces and threatens everything she holds dear. Eli is forced to take on the title inherited from her grandmother, and become the Mistress of Seers—but just because leading the seer community is her birthright doesn’t mean anyone will follow her.
This was okay, not terrible but not the best either. Really, this book just ultimately wasn’t for me. It was a fast read and I liked the premise, but the execution was lacking. There wasn’t a whole lot of character development, and the characters felt pretty flat. I don’t feel like there was actually any chemistry between Eli and Dan, and also in the summary it states this is a slow burn romance, which it most definitely is not. From the very beginning the two characters are into each other, and with this being only about 200 pages, they very quickly fall in love with each other.
I was very confused about their entire relationship, because in the beginning Eli makes it sound like she thinks Dan wants to arrest her but really he loves her? And once he finds out she’s a seer he just goes along with it and uses his resources as a cop to help her, which I feel like wouldn’t happen. A typical cop would probably think that Eli is delusional for saying she can see ghosts, or at least be a bit more skeptical about her claims.
I did have to double check a few times to make sure that this was actually the first book in the series and not a continuation or companion to another series, because there were definitely things that I felt like I was missing, especially when it came to the characters and their relationships to each other.
I also didn’t really like the way that the mystery started, we learn about Eli and her grandmother, and then suddenly we flash back to this event when Eli was a child where her friend pulled out a mirror and it was her first encounter with a spirit. But it also is the start of the whole mystery. I didn’t think the mystery was all that difficult, nor did I feel like there were any stakes in solving the mystery.
I also didn’t really like how Eli suddenly decided she would be the matriarch of the seers, like “okay I’m this now” and it just seems like something that maybe other seers would have a say in? The synopsis makes it clear that she was forced to take on the title ‘Mistress of Seers’, but the scene where it happens is just…anticlimactic. We’re also told that she’s an incredibly powerful seer, but we also don’t really get to see much of that either. I also didn’t like the interactions with Nick at all. Literally within one page, she would be thinking about her relationship with Dan and all of a sudden Nick would show up and she would be instantly all over him? It didn’t make any sense to me, and if the intention was to create a love triangle then I think the mark was missed.
I did like the pacing, and it was a fast read, but I don’t think I’ll be continuing the series. I’ve read other mystery series that I enjoyed a lot more than this one, but if the synopsis intrigues you, you should give it a shot!