The Artisans

The Artisans

by Julie Reece

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Overview

The Artisans by Julie Reece


In this dark southern gothic novel, a young woman meets a man who may be more than he seems. After the death of her mother, 17-year-old Rave Weathersby gives up her dream of becoming a fashion designer, barely surviving life in the South Carolina lowlands. To make ends meet, Raven works after school as a seamstress creating stunning works of fashion that often rival the great names of the day. Instead of making things easier on the high school senior, her stepdad’s drinking leads to a run in with the highly reclusive heir to the Maddox family fortune, Gideon Maddox. But Raven’s stepdad is drying out and in no condition to attend the meeting with Maddox. So Raven volunteers to take his place and offers to repay the debt in order to keep the only father she’s ever known out of jail. Gideon Maddox agrees, outlining an outrageous demand: Raven must live in his home for a year while she designs for Maddox Industries’ clothing line, signing over her creative rights. Her handsome young captor is arrogant and infuriating to the nth degree, and Raven can’t imagine working for him, let alone sharing the same space for more than five minutes. But nothing is ever as it seems. Is Gideon Maddox the monster the world believes him to be? And can he stand to let the young seamstress see him as he really is?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780692337325
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC
Publication date: 05/12/2015
Series: Artisans Series
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 13 - 17 Years

About the Author


Julie Reece is a writer who loves strong heroines, sweeping tales of mystery and epic adventures… which must include hot guy romances. She struggled with dyslexia for her right to read but in the end she slayed the dragon. She lives in Georgia.

Read an Excerpt

The Artisans


By Julie Reece

Month9Books

Copyright © 2015 Julie Reece
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-942664-23-9


CHAPTER 1

The Middle

* * *


Sweat drips from my temple as I push a needle through my friend's torn flesh. Years of sewing custom clothing enable me to make tiny sutures in his skin, close the three-inch gash in his shoulder. I hope it won't leave another scar.

Dane sits on the closed toilet seat in my bathroom. The space is too tight, the air between us close and cloying. I toss my head, shaking damp hair away from my eyes. Blood trickles down his bicep as I pierce him again. Today makes the third time I've sewn him up. He doesn't complain about the pain. I don't ask what pissed his father off this time.

Dane Adams introduced himself in my English Literature class a year ago when he first moved to Sales Hollow from Nashville. He missed the drama concerning the Coffee brothers, my mother's corpse, and Ben's trial. After Ben got out of the psyche ward, my name became synonymous with social pariah. People don't look me in the eye anymore. Pity, guilt, fear ... whatever the reason, I make them uncomfortable.

Dane doesn't treat me that way.

Angry and incessant buzzing breaks my concentration. I scowl at the window where a fly is trapped between the screen and the world outside. I can't set him free. The windows are painted shut. Refocusing on my task, I complete two more stitches, tie them off, and cut the thread. Not bad. I tape gauze loosely over the angry wound and straighten. He grabs my fingers, giving them a tender squeeze.

Sorrow mixed with gratitude shines from his dark brown eyes. I clear the knot from my throat. "All fixed up, bro."

I take a step back allowing Dane to stand. The guy dwarfs the little space. He leans around me, lifting a white cotton tee from its place on the sink countertop.

"Wait, you'll tear your stitches." I help him stretch the fabric over his head and cover his impressive torso.

When he showed up earlier, he was wearing the new, camel-colored leather jacket I made him. Double lapel over a red button up paired with dark stonewashed jeans and boots. Sharp. He can't afford to pay me for the clothes I make him. I wouldn't take his money if he could. The dumb guy spent ten minutes hanging out, bleeding, until finally admitting he needed stitching up.

I glance at my wrist for the hundredth time. The watch is my own design, fashioned from discarded parts into a silver, steampunk beetle. The wings slide to reveal a clock face. Two forty-five AM.

"How long has he been gone?"

The 'he' referred to is my stepfather Ben. I raise my eyes to find Dane studying me. He lifts an eyebrow, waiting. My shrug is my only answer.

A heavy breath leaks out as my friend leans against the wall. "You should have called me when he went missing."

Hoping to avoid an interrogation, I head out of the bathroom and into the storage area of our leather repair shop. The lease doesn't cover our living here, of course, but since we lost our apartment two months ago, we had no place else to go.

Dane follows and I face him. "It's not your job to protect us all the time. You've got your own problems. I can handle this."

"As if." He snorts. "Don't I always find him? You need me. Besides, I'm scary as hell."

I can't help my smile. He is scary as hell. Severe facial bone structure makes him look perpetually pissed off. He's tall and skinny but in a wiry, muscular sort of way. The boy can bend metal pipes with his bare hands. I've seen him.

Our rent is overdue. I glance at the fabric piled on the work counter. Resentment sprouts like weeds in my chest. "I have a clothing order to finish ..."

"I know you're broke, but can you sew while you're worried about him?" Dane tosses his long, rust-colored dreads over his shoulder revealing the fresh bruise on his neck.

Anger burns a hole in my gut, but there's nothing I can do to help him. Or anyone else it seems. "I can't always drop everything and go looking for Ben!" I slink to my sleeping bag on the floor. I don't know why I'm yelling. The people I'm angry at aren't in the room to hear. "Sorry. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry, Rae. I get it." He scratches his chin. "Leave him be for one night. He'll turn up."

What I haven't told him is that I've already been looking.

All night long, I searched Ben's usual haunts — the liquor stores, card games, and bars he frequents — with no sign. Jacob, who owns the pawnshop Ben visits, said the hot game in town was one held near the docks at Maddox Industries, a textile warehouse district turned seedy clubs and bars. The name Maddox is like a shadow over our town, drawing a collective shudder. Everyone has heard the rumors: money, crime ... bodies in the river.

Surely Ben knows better.

I meet Dane's gaze. "I'm lucky to have you looking out for me."

He grins. "Yes you are. Should we go find Ben?"

"Do you mind if we just chill here for a while first?" The truth is, between school, work, my earlier search, and treating Dane's wound, I'm exhausted.

"Whatever you need."

Gratitude pours out in the form of a sigh. I lean my head back against the concrete block wall to rest. Edgar, my twenty-five pound Maine Coon, climbs around in my lap and lies down. He's too big to fit, but that doesn't stop him from trying.

Shirt and shoes discarded, Dane flops on top of Ben's sleeping bag a few feet away. His long dreads spill across his brown, tatted shoulders. From this angle, he looks like the monster from the movie Predator. The thought makes me smile.

He's snoring in minutes. I've lost count how many nights he's slept over. Though his father owns a physical house, the fact he prefers our storeroom floor says everything about his home life. The unforgiving linoleum digs into my tailbone through my thin sleeping bag, and I shift, exacting a complaint from Edgar, whose weight puts my legs to sleep.

My cat purrs, his whiskers vibrating with the contented sound as I stroke his black fur. I wish I were as unconcerned, but honestly, I'm too keyed up over Ben's prolonged absence to think of much else. Anytime he's missing longer than forty-eight hours, bad things happen. A grueling night of searching turned up nothing, so we wait here. School starts in a few hours, but I won't sleep.

Pounding on the back door sends Edgar scrambling for the corner. Dane's up in seconds, chest heaving, my baseball bat clenched in his hand. I hold up a palm and slowly step to the back door. The one leading to the alley reserved for loading and deliveries. "Who's there?" I ask.

"Jacob. Let me in!"

Fingers tangle as I unbolt the lock and push the door wide. Jacob stands in the sickly orange glow of a buzzing street lamp in a rumpled trench coat. His green Cutlass idles in the background. Hanging limp at his side is Ben. "Come inside," I whisper.

Dane drops the bat and rushes forward. His stitches might rip, but there's no use trying to stop him. He lifts my unconscious stepfather like he's a small child and lays him on the other sleeping bag. His body is too thin, wasting from addiction and despair. His clothes are covered in black smears. A purple bruise blooms like an inkblot across his forehead. His nose and lip are busted.

"Is he okay?" Dane asks what I can't. I rub my forehead where an ache starts, weary of this scene.

Jacob hitches his broad shoulders, stretching his fleshy neck to one side. I feel for him. As my stepfather's oldest friend, I've lost count of the times he's brought Ben home. "Took a beating, but yeah, he'll be okay."

I stare at Ben's listless form on the floor. He stinks of cheap booze and body odor. It's hard to get really clean in the little sink in our half bath, not that he tries.

"Raven?"

My head snaps up. I have no idea how long Jacob has been calling my name. "Sorry, what?"

"There's more." He rubs his neck and stretches again. "I hate to tell you this kiddo, but Ben hawked your mother's wedding ring last night." My chin drops. "Well, you don't think I'd let him pawn it in my shop, do you? Don't you look at me like that!"

"Sorry, I just —"

"I know, sweetie. Lost every dime in a poker game." He shakes his head, stroking a hand down his ample belly. "I never thought he'd give up your momma's ring, never that." My heart cramps with every word. "He left the casino but showed up again an hour later, begging for a chance to win his money back. When they told him to get out, he went wild, tore the place up. He was so drunk, he ... started a fire. It was an accident, but the place went up like a match. Thousands in damage. I can't see any way out for him this time."

An arm comes around my shoulder, and I lean into it. The next thing I know I'm sitting Indian-style on the floor, staring at Ben. How did I get here? My cheeks are wet. My chest tightens in a vise grip of fear, and I release a sob. I'm so tired. All I want is to curl up and sleep. Forget.

"It's okay, Jacob, I'll stay with her."

Dane? His voice is distorted, as if he's floating somewhere above me. Wouldn't that be nice? All of us floating away together, like puffy clouds on a summer's day.

"Will they arrest him now?" Dane asks.

"These people don't arrest you, boy. They make you disappear, you know that. Best to get him out of town. Oh, Ben had a letter with him ..."

I glance up at Jacob. Our old friend pulls a thin, white envelope from his coat pocket. "Give it to me," I say.

He hesitates, gaze darting from Dane to me and back.

"It's all right, guys. I need to know." Dane nods to Jacob, and the letter finds its way into my hand. I'm not sure how long I sit there. Shoes scuff the dull linoleum. I'm vaguely aware when the door clicks shut behind Jacob as he leaves. Outside, his motor revs, and then fades as he drives away. The letter still waits in my shaking hand.

"Give it here, little Rae." Dane pries the envelope from my tightly clenched fingers. "We'll read it together, want to?" Edgar curls up next to Ben still crumpled on the floor. I don't speak. I can't.


Mr. Benjamin Edward Weathersby,

This letter is an attempt to collect a debt. Please meet me in my office at 11:00 AM Friday morning on September 21st to discuss my terms for your restitution. The judgment has been recorded and documented in my ledger and needs to be paid.

Come alone. Do not contact the authorities, do not sign the payment arrangement attached to this letter, and do not respond to this communication in any way other than to meet me in person. If you fail to appear, I will take whatever action necessary to collect the debt owed me.

Sincerely, G. N. Maddox


Blood turns to slush in my veins, thick, barely moving, slowing my ability to hear, or breathe, or think. The Mr. G. N. Maddox. Are the rumors true? Crime boss, ruthless killer, an evil beast incapable of compassion or mercy. Of all the people Ben could owe ... I stare at my hands. My fingers quake, but I can't feel them. Everything's gone numb.

Ben. I can't lose him.

"What is today?" I ask. My voice is quiet but hard as an ice pick. Every sacrifice I've made to hold on to what's left of my family seems in vain.

"September 21st. That meeting's four hours away." Dane drops down on my sleeping bag. "There's no way Ben can make it, Raven. Look at him."

"It doesn't matter, bro. Can you check on him after school today? I'm going to skip."

"Why?" He props himself up on his elbows. "I'm almost afraid to ask what you're planning in that stupid, stubborn head of yours."

"Ben's not going to make the meeting at Mr. Maddox's house this morning."

Dane scowls as if he knows what's coming, and I think he does.

"I am."

CHAPTER 2

When I pull up to the curb at number seven Wormwood Road, my insides curl up. Who knows why it's numbered seven; it's the only house for miles around. Nothing could prepare me for the Victorian monstrosity that looms beyond a heavy wrought iron gate. Who are they hiding back there, King Kong?

I put my vintage red Beetle in park and step onto the street. The only reason I still own this car is that I hide the title from Ben. Dane keeps it for me at his house.

Built in brick and cream sandstone, more than a dozen grouped chimneys rise like spires over a slate roof. I know because my ninth-grade history teacher had us build scale models of European castles for midterm exams. My preoccupation with Edgar Allen Poe doesn't hurt my knowledge of all things Goth, either. Mother knew what she was doing when she named me Raven.

The windows range in shape from pointy arches to clover-shaped, the third story encasing colorful leaded glass with decorative tracery. Battlements, parapets, and Oriel balconies set this joint off as your basic vampirism party house — deluxe.

Whatever. Determination (and maybe a solid dose of desperation) spurs me on toward the sidewalk. My three-inch heels click across the concrete. A knife is tucked just inside the knee-high laces of my right boot, just in case.

My fingers run over the ornate leaves, gargoyles, and iron scrollwork that make up the front gate. The entrance seems more suited to a creepy old graveyard than bayside southern mansion, but I think the artwork is beautiful in a disturbing, retro sort of way. The scene calls to the dark poet in me.

Warm winds blow off the salt water, filling my nose with the scent of brine, and marsh, and forest. The breeze sends my long, razor-cut hair across my eyes. I shake the dark strands back, pulling the gate open with a clank. Above me, the word Maddox stands out in arched relief over the door — the name of my nemesis.

My vision clouds as I stare. Eyes watering, I rub them as the letters on the gate appear to stretch and bend in front of me. The font drips iron like black wax melting off a candle. I shudder as the metal morphs into something cryptic and sinister. Unsure of what I'm seeing, I squint at the newly forming word Vigilis. I stumble back. When I blink, the odd lettering is gone. Everything is as it was.

Vigilis. What the hell?

Body racing with adrenaline, I draw a deep breath. I can't afford to freak out. Ben has no one else, so I slough off the strange vision as nerves, square my shoulders, and march toward the double-arched front door. If the bell chimes the beginning of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, I'm coming back with a cross and some Holy water.

I don't find out what the doorbell sounds like because some old guy in a black coat opens the door. "May I help you?"

Plastering a big smile on my face, there's little need to fake my out-of-breath speech. "Hi! Oh, am I late? I'm so sorry. Half the time those GPS instructions are wrong, you know?" I hold my breath, hoping he'll fall for my act as I blow past Maddox's gatekeeper into the foyer.

Mr. Butler Guy, or whoever he is, spins to follow me. "Excuse me ... just a moment ... Miss!"

Okay, so he's no dummy. Too bad, but no one is stopping this meeting. "I apologize again," I say with my best, faux perky voice. I'm making myself gag here with my imitation of a ditzy schoolgirl, but oh well. "I'm aware Mr. Maddox doesn't like to be kept waiting." I glance at my wrist for the time. "Oops. Watch stopped. Silly me, no wonder I'm late. Ha, ha, ha. Could you tell the gentleman his eleven o'clock appointment is here? I'd be so grateful, thanks bunches."

Apparently, batting your eyelashes only works in the movies, because Mr. Butler Guy straightens himself to his full height — which is shorter than my five-foot-seven. He's got to be seventy. Thin, frail, the man is nearly bald, and his scalp is covered in dark liver spots. Black spectacles slide down an impressive nose stuffed with white hairs. They match his eyebrows, as though all the hair on this guy's body migrated to those two areas. Attractive.

He glares at me, but I pretend not to notice.

"Nice place. Very ..." Ominous, spooky, chilling. "Imposing," I finally manage. The interior of the house matches every expectation based on its shell. Asymmetrical floor plan, the massive mahogany staircase curves left with a thinner stair breaking off and winding right to what must be the third floor. Everything is dark wood, red carpeting, crusty, dusty, and haunted looking. You gotta be kidding me. All the place lacks is a suit of armor and The Addams Family.

"Young woman, you are not expected. Now if you will be so kind as to leave the prem —"

"Jamis? It's all right. I will see her." A disembodied voice floats down the hall. It's a nice voice, young, low, and well, hot.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from The Artisans by Julie Reece. Copyright © 2015 Julie Reece. Excerpted by permission of Month9Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Artisans 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has just enough wierd and punk in it. Loved the loclve story 5 ??
Bookaholic_Banter More than 1 year ago
This story flowed along so well. I was never confused about was going on and it kept me reading and trying to solve the creepy puzzle that was going on in the Maddox home. The ending solved everything and left me with no questions. I loved the characters in this story. They were all unique in their own way and very memorable. They were fleshed out very well. The element of creepiness in this book was done so well that at points in the story I could feel myself getting creeped out. The romance in the story was done in a way that made it real and believable. It wasn't overdone. It was just the right amount that this story needed. It wasn't rushed at all. The language in this book was tastefully written which I loved! There wasn't a bunch of unneeded profanity. This would be a suitable read for anyone. I didn't want this story to end. I was enjoying living in this world so much! I am so happy that there is going to be another story to follow this one and I am SO EXCITED to read it! I want more of Raven and Gideon and I can't wait to see what mysterious things will happen next in the Maddox estate. I have a feeling that the mysteriousness is far from over and that there is a lot more to come. I enjoyed every moment of reading this gothic, steam-punk, creepy, and haunting mysterious romance. Bring on the next one!
Crack_Squirrel More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the dark gothic vibe of this fast-paced book. Reece has conjured up an original spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast tale in a surprising and original manner. I loved the combination of Raven's hard-scrabble life, the casual ease of her friendships and her feisty confrontation with the enigmatic lure of her "jailer". This book was really, really swoony and romantic as well, which was done without being cheesy.
JennyAdams More than 1 year ago
Gorgeous, haunting, and hard to put down, Julie Reece's THE ARTISANS is a stunning reimagining of a familiar story. I fell instantly for the wounded, mysterious Gideon, and the stubborn and resourceful Rae. This book is everything you want from a gothic: an atmospheric and secluded mansion, secrets at every turn, and a swoony romance. Add in an loveable cast of secondary characters and some genuinely scary scenes, and you've got a truly unforgettable story. I loved every second!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had been super excited to start reading this book when I first got it. It started off interesting enough by establishing the protagonist's relationships with her stepfather and friends. I liked how Raven offered herself to repay her stepfather's debt and loved her friends because it shows her selflessness. Overall, Raven was an all right heroine for me but definitely not my favorite, I'm not sure I would even call her memorable. I liked that she designed her own clothes and that she was known for her talent rather than another aspect about her but I wish she had been more clever or that she took a little more initiative about the things that happened around her. I felt the same way with Gideon, I knew he meant well but all the ways he tried to prove it was completely wrong and kind of creepy. His disappearances on end made it confusing and I felt the reader didn't get enough time with him to get emotionally attached. Yes, things happened to him to make him the way he was but I didn't really like him until near the end when he attempts to right the wrongs in his past. I had trouble with the writing and pacing, it didn't fascinate me or flow well as I read nor was the story believable enough for me. I kept getting confused because I thought this story was a contemporary but then it would switch and when it came to the clothes I would think that I'm in a historical based on the descriptions. I think I'd describe the clothing style as a mixture of historical steampunk/goth. I would assume this could take place in a historical novel with the lack of contemporary elements with the exception of cars and school. The ending was fine, not mind blowing but interesting enough to keep me reading to the end. My favorite parts ended up being the ones that involved the ghosts or any paranormal activity. I didn't really see the end coming because I think there wasn't enough foreshadowing or hints to what to expect at the end. It was a little more random than I would have hoped. Perhaps, I simply missed all the breadcrumbs left by the author. Either way, the journey to the climax wasn't satisfying to me and I think could have been executed in a more compelling manner. This story would be good for those who enjoy a story with a sense of gothic fashion design and the paranormal involving ghosts. 3 out of 5 rating for me! (A copy was provided for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.)
SherryMiller More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book!! Ms. Reece kept my attention from the very first chapter until the very end! I stuggle to stay interested and connected to a story and it's characters unless it's VERY interesting. It was excellent and I found myself racing through it to know the ending! Then I read it again so I could enjoy the beauty of her descriptive artistry- one of the aspects I love the most in her writing. I can't wait for the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Aditi-ATWAMB More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of the impossible. And strange, sexy, weirdly controlling, know it all guys. And mystery. So, The Artisans, on reading the synopsis, sounded like the perfect book for me! And while it was a good book, I wished that it could have been more.  I loved the fact that Raven had a conscious, that she was an excellent artist, and that she cared so much for her family, even if the first was shadowed by excessive teenage drama. I loved that Gideon always mentioned that aloof, mysterious, charming attitude, with the I know it all, have it all air- all while slowly breaking the exterior and showing us his soft side. I loved Dane (Ravens best friend) and all the brotherly love, but it seemed  like Maggie (her other best friend) was only put there because Julie Reece wanted to avoid a love triangle between Gideon, Dane and Raven and to start putting ideas into Ravens head about Gideon- and the I didn't like because best friends are supposed to be more than just that. I thought the entire concept of the Artisans was strange as well- I mean seriously? Who does that? But then, I guess I figured it out long before it was actually explained, and a small part of me was hoping for more, and I didn't get it. And Desiree. She was the worst of the lot- you'll have to read to find out who she is- but still. But I did love the overall themes of friendship and strange, forbidden love and random acts of sexy kindness! So, overall, a book I would recommend if just for the romance! 4 stars!
Aisazia More than 1 year ago
I had been super excited to start reading this book when I first got it. It started off interesting enough by establishing the protagonist's relationships with her stepfather and friends. I liked how Raven offered herself to repay her stepfather's debt and loved her friends because it shows her selflessness. Overall, Raven was an all right heroine for me but definitely not my favorite, I'm not sure I would even call her memorable. I liked that she designed her own clothes and that she was known for her talent rather than another aspect about her but I wish she had been more clever or that she took a little more initiative about the things that happened around her.  I felt the same way with Gideon, I knew he meant well but all the ways he tried to prove it was completely wrong and kind of creepy. His disappearances on end made it confusing and I felt the reader didn't get enough time with him to get emotionally attached. Yes, things happened to him to make him the way he was but I didn't really like him until near the end when he attempts to right the wrongs in his past. I had trouble with the writing and pacing, it didn't fascinate me or flow well as I read nor was the story believable enough for me. I kept getting confused because I thought this story was a contemporary but then it would switch and when it came to the clothes I would think that I'm in a historical based on the descriptions. I think I'd describe the clothing style as a mixture of historical steampunk/goth. I would assume this could take place in a historical novel with the lack of contemporary elements with the exception of cars and school. The ending was fine, not mind blowing but interesting enough to keep me reading to the end. My favorite parts ended up being the ones that involved the ghosts or any paranormal activity. I didn't really see the end coming because I think there wasn't enough foreshadowing or hints to what to expect at the end. It was a little more random than I would have hoped. Perhaps, I simply missed all the breadcrumbs left by the author. Either way, the journey to the climax wasn't satisfying to me and I think could have been executed in a more compelling manner. This story would be good for those who enjoy a story with a sense of gothic fashion design and the paranormal involving ghosts. 3 out of 5 rating for me! (A copy was provided for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Author, Julie Reece, has done it again. What an incredible journey she has taken me in her latest masterpiece, THE ARTISANS. The writing is mature, intoxicating, the storyline haunting, and let’s not forget the unforgettable characters. After reading Ms. Reece’s previous novel, CRUX, I didn’t think her writing could get any better. I was wrong. THE ARTISANS blew me away. What did I love the most? So hard to say. I adored Raven. Her story is not an easy one. She’s seen her share of bad times. I felt so bad for her. I was so emotionally attached. I wanted her to find her piece of happiness so much I wanted to jump in the book and give it to her. It turns out I didn’t have to, which is a good thing, but still, I would have if I could have. I mean, if any book character deserved a happy ending, it’s Rae. About Gideon Maddox , well, that boy had to grow on me, but he was/is the perfect, sexy counterpart for Raven. Then there was Mags and Dane, true friends to the end. They have so got Raven's back. The setting in the book is eerie and creepy and dark with some truly ghastly scenes that made me squirm. There’s romance, mystery, suspense. There are just so many wonderful elements about this story that it would take pages to write them all. I think the best thing I can say is BUY THIS BOOK!! :-) You will be completely blown away by this fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It is definitely one of my fave reads. And even though I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, I am soo buying a paperback version of this right now, today. That’s how much I love this book. Ms. Reece, if you’re reading this, I love you!! Keep on writing novels like this and you’re going to bump the popular authors off the charts. I’m hooked on your writing. You're one of my favorites for sure. Five stars for this, folks, and well deserving of each one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
**ARC received in exchange for an honest review** Raven Weathersby has a good voice on her – smart and detailed, with a healthy amount of teen attitude in the mix. Particularly in a spin on a fairy tale where the Beauty trades in her freedom for confinement in the Beast’s castle, one could expect the book to take the road often traveled in young-adult books by isolating the heroine from any fleshed-out relationships beyond that between her and the male lead. To my pleasant surprise, however, a generous portion of Raven’s story includes interactions with a number of non-romantic loved ones – the alcoholic step-dad she’s burdened to care for, the duo of best friends who have her back throughout the arrangement with her captor, even her oversized cat. I appreciated this solid contribution to the rounding out of Raven’s character, which made her feel more authentic to me than her “beastly” counterpart, Gideon Maddox, for whom I had trouble getting past the shiny veneer to the heart within. Augmenting the book’s fairytale component was a Southern Gothic ghost story, complete with eerie spirits ranging from pitiable to ghastly. Some of the scenes were so effectively horrific that I physically cringed and squirmed, for which I give props to the author despite my dislike for being too strongly crept-out. The ghost element added an intriguing layer and elevation of the stakes in a story which might otherwise have had more difficulty holding my interest for the length of the novel. And the mystery that arose regarding Raven’s origins, left partially unexplained at book’s end, has me curious to know what’s coming in the projected sequel. If you’ve got a taste for a spooky, contemporary take on a fairytale favorite, you may find “The Artisans” to be tailor-made for you.