Since her mother has just died, and her other longtime guardian, Mark, is dying, Barrie Watson finds herself in her mother’s home of Watson Island, in South Carolina. Her life in San Francisco wasn’t as exciting as it could have been, given that her burn-victim mother never left their house, but leaving all she has known and the guardian she loves are devastating.
It’s hard enough adjusting to a new life in a very different place, but it’s tougher not having known anything about the place: Barrie’s mom never spoke of her home, her family, her history. Now Barrie has the chance to get to know her aunt Pru, with whom she will live in the large old family home, and the island itself. It’s all strange, particularly since she begins to learn it’s tied up with the gift she’s always had: she just feels an irresistible pull toward lost things.
Barrie meets Eight (short for Charles Beaufort the Eighth), an undeniably good-looking guy who also is a descendant of the original inhabitants of the island, and wants to meet her cousins, two girls who are part of the third family of original settlers, the Colesworths. But she is warned off them by Pru and Eight. The more she asks questions and explores, the more she is curious and wants to know the real story of the strange magic that has informed her family’s history and still makes demands. What can she do to uncover secrets and perhaps even make things right?
Compulsion is an enjoyable Southern gothic story of curses and gifts, family secrets and old and new loves. This book settles some issues and concludes in a satisfying way but leaves open other considerations for future books in the series.
Rated: Mild, for occasional mild and moderate language, some past and current violence, some danger and tension, and brief sexually-related references.