**DISCLAIMER: This book was given to me for free in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Literally PR and Advantage, Forbes Books for having me on the tour.**
She chose to die. Now she chooses to live. And love. But her spirit has been claimed by a dark presence.
In the final year of high school, SarahVise’s life is set to start and finish on a literal dead-end street on the coast of Delaware. Abandoned by her mother, Sarah works endless hours on her domineering father’s fishing boat in the shadow of a run-down lighthouse. However, with an offer to college and after an intriguing encounter with her blue-eyed neighbour Grant, a fire is sparked inside Sarah. She is filled with a violent desire to break free and carve out her own future for herself.
Sarah’s hopes are dashed however when her callous father refuses to let her leave, and in desperation, she surrenders herself to the crashing waves. Grant frantically saves her from certain death, but her weakened spirit is taken by a terrifying-if-alluring presence to the afterlife. Captivated and too beaten down by life to resist, Sarah at first allows herself to be overcome by the hunter-sage.
But then she realises Max is demonic in his need to control her and she once again has to beg for her freedom. Striking a terrible deal, Sarah returns to her life and follows her heart to a devoted Grant. But the clock is ticking, and Sarah’s fate is as unpredictable as the winds that lash her prison.
The Stealing is a dark, and somewhat twisted, gothic romance that reels you in and keeps you captured in its grasp for long after the story has finished.
Sarah Vise is desperate to escape her small-town life on Port Mahon Road. She wants to lead her own life, go to college and make something more of herself. But this is ’80s America, and men have the upper hand, especially in rural communities.
That includes her father, Rex, who is stuck in his old-fashioned ways. His mindset could instill anger in a more modern thinking reader, but there are some things worth considering. He was left alone to raise Sarah, which in itself is an extremely difficult task, and while he was controlling her situation, it was very obvious how much he loves her. It’s easy to have some conflicting views about his character.
However, he wasn’t the only man trying to take control of her life. Max and Grant are also gunning for Sarah’s affections and her life. Max is the darkness trying to steal her soul. At this point, I’m still debating if he was real or a dream. He rushes in when Sarah is at her lowest point to try and whisk her away to a ‘better’ existence, only that is not really the case at all. We get limited glimpses of Max through Sarah’s dreams, and it would have been great to have read more about him. He felt like more of a side character which was a little disappointing given that he was the gothic/paranormal presence in the book.
Then there is Grant, her former high-school bully, who is initially wanting to gain Sarah’s affections due to her beauty. Their relationship seemed quite rushed and superficial. In my opinion, she got over him and his brothers (Lance and Brody) bullying her for most of her life far too quickly. There were no real repercussions for their actions and it felt like she gave in to the ‘damsel in distress’ role after a small amount of coaxing. I’m not sure if this was a result of the time period it was set in, but it did frustrate me.
The main part of the book I appreciated the most was the touching on deeper and more harrowing topics. For example, exploring the harm male dominance can have on women and the gender role bias’ that, at that time, forced women to keep their mouths shut and do as the men said. Of course, in this day and age, we can see that mindset and behavior for what it is, toxic and sexist.
The Stealing also brings in the discussion about mental health as it’s clear (to me at least) that Sarah is depressed. At the beginning of the book, she tries to take her own life and is only unsuccessful in doing so because Grant saves her. All of these issues are interlinked as she may not have felt that way had she have been given the chance to make her own choices.
I really enjoyed reading The Stealing, even though it had some downsides such as the fast pacing, it was very well written. The world-building was captivating and enabled me to completely immerse myself in the story. There were plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing and the ending gives the opportunity for it to be developed into a series. If it is, I will definitely be getting the next installment!