Mind Like a Diamond
- Author: Amanda Pavlov
- Genre: YA Fantasy
- Publication Date: December 14, 2021
- Publisher: Sword and Silk
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this ARC. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.
CONTENT WARNING: murder, bullying, violence, drug use, attempted sexual assault, blood
You don’t have to believe in magic for it to kill you.
Seventeen-year-old gymnast, Lisette Colbert, is skeptical of her criminal mother’s claim that they are descendants of pirate witches. But on Halloween night, Lisette will come face to face with indisputable proof.
Lured by a $10,000 prize, Lisette recruits her best friend Xavier and together they enter The 13th Realm of Hell—an escape-room style Haunted House run by a mysterious coven. Xavier has his reservations, especially after reading the fine print on the waiver to enter.
Lisette is too focused on proving herself to consider the risks. With him or without him, she is determined to complete all thirteen realms. If she wins the prize money, she’ll avoid eviction from her beloved French Quarter apartment. But the witches who run the show don’t write happy endings.
This was an interesting and fast-paced read that I finished in a single sitting. I wasn’t sure I’d like this story, since I’m such a wuss and tend to avoid anything remotely scary, but to my surprise, I enjoyed this far more than I expected to.
Although Lisette is a morally gray character, she isn’t necessarily an unlikable character. She’s a young woman who grows up extremely poor and facing difficult circumstances. In addition, her mother keeps a lot of secrets from her. Despite trying to learn more, her mother is incredibly stubborn and refuses to answer any of her questions.
When they get an eviction notice, it seems like an unimaginable stroke of luck to come upon a contest that offers a $10,000 prize to the winner. And Lisette is determined to win, no matter what. But she has no idea what she’s in for. Or what it might cost her if she does win.
The action starts early and stays pretty consistent throughout the story, making this a difficult book to put down. It’s a huge part of why I read this in one sitting. Lisette isn’t just facing huge, dangerous obstacles, but she’s racing against the clock and other people as well. And while she’s street smart, she also has to face her own doubts and fears at the same time. I liked seeing not just the challenges she faces as she races through the realms, but also her own internal struggles. She’s forced to ask important questions about who she is, but more importantly, who she wants to be.
This challenge also winds up revealing more answers than Lisette ever expected. I loved how the story wound up coming together — it’s more than simply a challenge, and while the magic system wasn’t ever clearly explained, it did seem pretty cool. I’m curious to see what’s next from Amanda Pavlov!
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 8
Categories: Book Review