I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher Kensington Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
*Contains spoilers – read with caution*
Quick fire review:
These covers! I swear Robin Bridges has some of the best book covers. All in all an enjoyable read with some perfectly flawed characters and an open discussion about acceptance.
Honest, nuanced, and bittersweet, The Form of Things Unknown explores the shadows that haunt even the truest hearts…and the sparks that set them free.
Natalie Roman isn’t much for the spotlight. But performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a stately old theatre in Savannah, Georgia, beats sitting alone replaying mistakes made in Athens. Fairy queens and magic on stage, maybe a few scary stories backstage. And no one in the cast knows her backstory.
Except for Lucas—he was in the psych ward, too. He won’t even meet her eye. But Nat doesn’t need him. She’s making friends with girls, girls who like horror movies and Ouija boards, who can hide their liquor in Coke bottles and laugh at the theater’s ghosts. Natalie can keep up. She can adapt. And if she skips her meds once or twice so they don’t interfere with her partying, it won’t be a problem. She just needs to keep her wits about her.
Our main character Natalie suffers a psychotic breakdown after an incident involving a shit tonne of drugs and an awful ex-boyfriend. After she moves with her family to look after her grandmother for the summer, she is presented with an opportunity to make a new start. Along with her brother David, Natalie ends up participating in a local production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Enter our main man Lucas.
Like Natalie, Lucas is looking to make a fresh start and while one might assume these characters are strangers who are going to enter the insta-love zone, the two actually share a past having both been patients in the same facility.
Struggling with the idea of being schizophrenic (like her grandmother) and not wanting to make waves in a new town, Natalie decides to keep her cards close to her chest and reveal very little about her life before that summer. Luckily for her, Lucas doesn’t seem to have too much of an issue playing along. Cut to Natalie making new friends and falling into her old habits of partying too hard. It was interesting to me that part of the reason she had her psychotic break in the first place was as a result of drugs yet she was so eager to jump back into ‘normal’ teen behaviour to maintain these new friendships.
There is a clear mysterious undertone to this story and I thought the author did a great job of keeping you questioning what was happening. The way she worked all of the psychological elements into this story to not only serve the characters but progress the story was really interesting and one of the key reasons why I managed to devour this so quickly.
I thought the author did a pretty good job of dealing with mental health issues. The discussion didn’t feel forced and I really appreciate that she didn’t make any large sweeping statements about what Natalie was going through. I also really enjoyed that Natalie and her family were so open about the role schizophrenia has in their family line and the change in dynamics it creates: both Natalie and her grandmother suffer from this mental illness.
I will say that part of the reason I didn’t give this a higher rating is because I felt like the ending was a little rushed. Once the big mystery is solved, there seemed to be a narrow road that the author travelled down to wrap up this story. Apart from the ending though, I thought the pacing throughout was just fast and enticing enough to keep you hooked.
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