As with any review I do for Marie's books, I will start with the necessary disclaimer: Marie Landry is a long-time blogger friend whom I have known for several years. I do not say this to discredit the integrity of my review, but rather to ensure that all cards are laid on the table when you read it.
That said, what were my thoughts going into Take Them By Storm? First and foremost that I know I'm late to the party. This released a while ago and I was not actively blogging or reading much at that time. Second, that I was pretty sure going in that this book would be a safe bet for me. I've enjoyed everything Marie has written, so I was fairly certain Take Them By Storm would be the literary equivalent of catching up with old friends.
Was I right? Read on and find out...
(Summary from GoodReads)
This book is a standalone companion novel to Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm.
Sadie Fitzgerald has always been different, and not just because she makes her own clothes and would rather stay home watching Doctor Who than party with kids her age. When it’s time to leave Angel Island for college, Sadie is eager to put her old life behind her. Small-minded people and rumors have plagued her for years, but with the love of her adoptive family, the O’Dells, Sadie has learned to embrace who she is. Now she’s not afraid to admit the rumors about her are true: she’s gay.
For the first time in her life, Sadie feels free to be herself. She dives into college life and begins volunteering at the local LGBT center, where she discovers her small-town upbringing left holes in her education about life outside Angel Island.
The world is a bigger and more accepting place than Sadie ever imagined. She’s finally found where she belongs, but with the reappearance of someone from her past, an unexpected new friendship, and a chance at love, Sadie soon realizes she still has a lot to learn about life, friendship, and love.
The first thing I can say about Take Them By Storm is that it covered all the things I expect (at this point) from a Marie Landry novel. Relatable characters? Check. Beautiful writing with a natural flow? Absolutely. Gorgeous, descriptive prose complete with a setting so vibrantly realized that it seems like its own character? Without question. I had tried samples of three other books on my June reading list and failed to connect with them. I definitely did not have that problem here.
It was beautiful going back to this story world. (I view all stories as their own worlds, even if they are set in ours.) It was great being reunited with Charlotte, Ella, River and Ezra. It was also wonderful getting to know Sadie better. I had hoped she would get her own story and now that I have read it I feel that hope was definitely justified.
The shift from YA to NA was handled well and felt organic for the characters. The characters from previous books were also consistent with who I knew them to be, while still carrying enough growth and depth for me to believe that a year had passed and they were all headed to work / university / college.
Just as vital as the growth I see in the characters is the growth I see in Marie's writing. She used a plot device that drove me slightly batty in one of her earlier books and then turned it completely on its head. She also managed to have me convinced that was not going to happen until the last minute, which made for some very tense, fidgety, nail-biting reading that I usually don't get from contemporary books.
She also did something extremely clever with the romance here, which was definitely a bold move considering that she was already expanding her horizons by writing a romance with two ladies. I don't want to say much more about what goes on in the romance, as I feel that the way it turns out and is developed over the course of the book is one of Take Them By Storm's most intriguing and memorable aspects. Especially from a writing point of view.
Last, I think it's clever how Marie is tying various places she has set up within her re-imagining of Ontario together. Getting to see Melody and Oliva from The Game Changer was a fun surprise.
Do you even need to ask? Take Them By Storm is a great novel in its own right, as well as a continuation of the excellent storytelling and gorgeous writing I have come to expect and enjoy in every Marie Landry novel that I read. If you have not read any of Marie's books and you're a fan of contemporary fiction, do yourself a favor and try one.