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…Something creepy is going on. Something terribly creepy is going on. Marie is dead and Cardy got ankle shot and my Finn dreams are getting even more graphic, and there are black cats and black birds everywhere, and I think Finn was right about that horse being super weird and now I’m tied to my own bed by my own hair and WHY DOES NOTHING MAKE SENSE?…Pearl Linford – Valentine, Jodi McAlister
Let me tell you about the main protagonist; Pearl Linford.
1) fiesty with a heart of iron,
2) stubborn and arrogant to the core,
3) petty to the point of petty,
4) superficially sure of herself,
5) extremely angry,
6) totally invested in her social standing at school,
7) and altogether hilariously funny!!!!
Pearl Linford is a character that anyone can easily relate to on an emotional level. She’s desperately in love with her childhood friend, James Cardigan (of course he doesn’t know that.) She’s overly smart, she’s extremely competitive and invested in the politics of high school. She has loads of friends. Is reasonably responsible and hates it, absolutely hates it when things don’t seem to go her way.
I am being kept alive by a hair coiled around my finger and Finn doesn’t even have the courtesy to be rostered on when I’m trying to stalk him!Pearl Linford – Valentine, Jodi McAlister
It’s not that I hate Julian or anything, okay? I’m not one of those girls whose all like, ‘ooh, BFF, you have a boyfriend and I don’t! I am consumed by jealousy and will now be a total bitch to you until you break up so I feel better about myself!’ It’s just that they’ve only been together for a few weeks, and Julian and I haven’t exactly managed to sort out a custody arrangement yet…Pearl Linford – Valentine, Jodi McAlister
In my fantasy, he (Cardy) did not bring a table of a million people with him. But then we all know that ninety-nine per cent of my fantasies are the absolute worst!Pearl Linford – Valentine, Jodi McAlister
So that’s a summary of Pearl. Our story teller. Its her voice and opinions in Valentine that makes the novel so good and funny.
Now let me introduce Finn. Finn Blacklin is the Yang to Pearls Ying. Strictly speaking, Pearl and Finn are arch nemeses. And the only part Finn plays in Pearl’s agenda is being the boy she must Destroy. Kill. Ruin.
He’s known as the high school casanova and has dated half the girls in his school. Whereas Pearl is serious and gloomy. Finn is carefree and flirtatious! And OMG anyone who reads the book will find him just magnetically attractive!
This is how Pearl describes Finn and their relationship:
He doesn’t reply. He’s on his knees, dry heaving. Part of me feels sorry for him, but it’s a really, really small part. Friends throwing up on your shoes is one thing…. ….but when mortal enemies get in on the vomcano action, it’s a whole different scenario!Pearl Linford – Valentine, Jodi McAlister
There’s a long silence, but it’s not awkward. You can’t have awkward silences between people that hate each other. It’s just not possible when you’re busy plotting someone’s demise.Pearl Linford – Valentine, Jodi McAlister
I don’t tell them about Finn, though. I tell them almost everything about everything in my life, but the only thing I ever, ever tell them about Finn is how much I want to punch him in his stupid (perfect) face.Pearl Linfrod – Valentine, Jodi McAlister
I don’t know if ‘Finn’ and ‘Brave’ are two concepts that really go together. ‘Finn’ and ‘annoying’, maybe. ‘Finn’ and distractingly pretty’, unfortunately. ‘Finn’ and ‘I wish I didn’t devote so much time and energy to thinking about him, definitely.Pearl Linfrod – Valentine, Jodi McAlister
As you can see from above, Pearl doesn’t actually have just one love interest, she is also totally in love with Finn, and the fact that she doesn’t realise this for the entirety of the book is just beautiful. I really appreciate the denial, the level of “hatred” as Pearl calls it, and the absolutely explosive chemistry that goes on between the two characters.
But that is not what this book is about. Valentine is the story of a miniature war between the Seelie and Unseelie fairies who have decided to come to town. One of the two gangs (the Seelie, I’m pretty sure) are here to take their Changeling home, while the other gang (Unseelie) are here to destroy it.
But the faires are subtle, hidden in plain sight and watching the townsfolk of Haylesford all hours of the day and during all hours of the night. Black cats are stalking Pearl. Black birds are diving in doves to claw students apart and the black horse had something to do with the death of Finn’s ex… and as stated above, NOTHING MAKES SENSE!
Valentine is great debut novel by author Jodi McAlister, one that I couldn’t recommend enough. Its enjoyable. The world building and the high school drama/history stretches back into great depths. The characters are well detailed and developed. The plot is simple but elegantly crafted around the protagonist’s storytelling. Its an extremely quick read with no “I’m gonna put this book down and do everything I can to avoid picking this book up again” moments. Its just a read right through to the end. The story really doesn’t run flat. Its a constant up and down and all around flow. Couldn’t recommend this book enough. Go out, buy this book and enjoy. You’re missing out if you don’t!!!