Yonie Watereye lives in the bayou. The water there is full of guile, a power that changes people and objects. Yonie, 16, makes a living investigating objects affected by guile, but in fact it’s her talking cat, LaRue, who has the power to see guile. Yonie becomes aware that someone is sending harmful guile-changed objects to certain people, including herself. Her investigation becomes entwined with her hunt for the secrets of her mother’s past and leads her to discover dangers hidden within her own family. In the suspenseful adventure that follows, Yonie and her furry sidekick face challenges that could end their adventuring forever.
I might have had a more pleasurable reading experience with this one, had my eARC not been so badly formatted – no capitalisations and words randomly broken up, which made things rather frustrating.
That said, Guile wins points for its unique setting and concept – a bayou where inhabitants mainly get around by boats, surrounded by swamp water that contains a magical substance called guile, which has the ability to turn objects or people a tad more strange and magical than they were before. Citizens largely look down upon those with abilities to sense guile, particularly since they tend to be lower class, unless in need of their services – possessing an object acting oddly, for instance.
Our protagonist, Yonie, and her talking cat find themselves providing such a service – she has no immediate family, and needs some way to put food on the table. Yonie as a character is fiercely independent – largely out of necessity, and has her heart in the right place, although is prone to making some impulsive decisions. Nevertheless, she’s someone you can root for, as she tries to work out the complicated remnants of her past that are now making themselves known.
The book also contains a wonderful shut-down of the “if boys are mean to you it means they like you” trope. Exhibit A:
“You think that excuses you?” Yonie spat. “You just say, ‘oh, all along it was just because I liked you!’ and then I say ‘oh, poor thing, how sweet?’ Gilbert, you didn’t pester me. Mosquitoes are pesky. You were cruel. You and your brothers made me miserable for years. For your own entertainment. And you were the worst!”
However, at certain points I found myself bored, and the writing style didn’t always gel with me – particularly the heavily accented dialogues. (Then again, I’m also in the midst of a major slump where nothing at all is appealing to me!)
If you like the sound of the guile concept, along with a lack of romance and a portion of adventure, then this might be one to try.
ARC received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may differ from final publication.