This book has been on my tbr for a really long time. I requested a review copy a few months ago from Pan Macmillan, and was quite disappointed when I was told that it is no longer being printed in South Africa. They very kindly emailed me the book in epub format, but I really wanted to read the physical copy instead. And then, on a beautiful Monday morning (last week), while browsing through the seemingly endless stacks of books at the Bargain Books Warehouse, I spotted a small pile of paperbacks with familiar spines. I tell you, I was so unbelievable happy when I held this book in my hands, I could not wait to get to the counter so that I could officially claim it as my own. And now, I am here to share with you my review of one of my most anticipated reads: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender…
Love makes us such fools
Pain in love appears to be a Roux family birthright, and for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is key to her inheritance. Longing to fit in with her peers, Ava ventures away from home, ill-prepared for what awaits her in a world that does not know whether to view her as girl or angel.
Ava’s quest and family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo until, on the summer solstice, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air and Ava’s fate is revealed.
A mesmerizing, lyrical tale of longing, desire and the nature of love.
BEAUTIFUL… That is the word that comes to mind when I think of this book, truthfully it’s probably THE most beautiful book I have ever read. From the very first page I knew I was going to love this book, even with the possibility of being let down by the storyline or characters. The writing alone would have made up for all of that, ten times over – I’m not exaggerating. Leslye Walton had this uncanny ability to describe the most mundane, everyday things in a breathtakingly stunning manner. Each and every sentence written made me want to read it over and over again so that the words can be ingrained onto my heart, and stay with me forever. I have never experienced anything quite like it before.
As I’m sure you’ve gathered from the title, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender is a book filled with strange and beautiful sorrows. Throughout the story I felt a current of despair and suffering that never quite left me, even after the final page was turned. It was a story of tragedy, grief and immeasurable heartache that was written with such mourning and acceptance, I could not turn away from it no matter how painful it became. And let me tell you, it tore my heart to pieces! It’s been a while since I read anything so utterly devastating.
Even though I’ve always been aware that this book was sad and magical, I’ll admit I wasn’t expecting the story to be so deep and meaningful. It really was different to any other fantasy book I’ve read, and I will do my best to explain why this is…
In every fantasy book I read up until this point, I got to experience a new world where the laws of nature gets challenged and changed. I imagine what these differences may mean and try to make sense of what I cannot explain or understand. As the reader I see how characters evolve with their new abilities, and how they come to realise that it may not be the curse they’ve been lead to believe, giving them the confidence and strength to save the world in the end… But what makes Ava Lavender so wonderfully refreshing, is that the magic happens in the background while the characters are facing their struggles in the real world. OUR world. The same world you and I live in when we get to draw our next breath. In this book we see how brutal life can be and how hard it is to carry on with the burden of pain and loss, even with the advantage of an unexplained, magical gift.
Because it is quite a short book, I had my doubts when I saw all the positive reviews up on Goodreads, since it is a fantasy book which would require a lot of world and character building. But unbelievably, Leslye Walton managed to craft a story so stunning in all of 320 pages. She created good, strong characters that I had no trouble connecting with, and on top of this she could still shock me with a completely unexpected turn that floored me. She instilled emotion and gave hope, while maintaining a very real story line that is relevant and relatable. She made me tear up and she made me smile, she gave me goosebumps and turned my stomach too; Walton grabbed me by the heartstrings and took me on an emotional roller-coaster ride that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake. And what makes all of this even more impressive is that Ava Lavender is her debut novel…
If you are looking for a book that will make you hate the world, and then fall in love with it all over again; you should seriously consider giving The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender a read, and tell me whether you agree with the 5/5 star rating I gave it on Goodreads. Honestly, if I could, I would give it more because Ava Lavender is without question one of my favourite books – I absolutely loved it!