Released: June 12, 2012
Four girls. One magical, and possibly dangerous Italian summer. Family mysteries, ancient castles, long hot nights of dancing under the stars . . . and, of course, plenty of gorgeous Italian boys!The Good: Post-high school Violet. Italy. Cute boys. Italy. Mysterious girl in 18th Century painting who looks exactly like Violet. Italy.
The Bad: The last few pages felt like a rush of, "Oh, you expected a resolution? Oh, well, there's going to be a sequel for that. Oh, you didn't see that coming? Oh, sorry!"
I love "older" YA, so girl going on a senior trip of sorts to Italy sounded like a fantastic story. Violet is very interested in art, and during a trip to a nearby museum, she comes across a painting of herself - except it was painted in an Italian castle in the 1700's. Haunted by the eeriness of the resemblance, Violet discovers a summer program in Italy that features a private tour of the castle where the portrait was painted. Desperate to know more, she convinces her mother this will be a unique opportunity for her future in art even though it really isn't more than a fancy finishing school.
Violet is in attendance with another British girl and two Americans, all of whom become her friends sooner or later. More important, however, is her acquaintance with Luca, who turns out is part of the family living in the mysterious castle. Violet is quite taken with Luca, partially with his possible connection to her past. Things between them fluctuate from hot to cold, and when weird things happen to Violet when she visits the castle, she isn't sure what to think of Luca or his family.
All of this I enjoyed. I really liked Violet, I liked her housemates, even Luca was okay. I loved the scenery: the Italian countryside, the foreboding castle. And I didn't mind that it was the first in a series, even if I didn't realize it before picking up the book. However, I did not enjoy the rush of the last few pages which ended with no resolution whatsoever. It didn't even end with a cliffhanger! It just stopped! Very very strange. I sincerely hope this is not a trend because I very much want to read Lauren's Scarlett Wakefield books, as well as the apparent sequel to this story.
FTC: I received an eARC of this novel from Random House via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.