The Blessed – Tonya Hurley

“‘Agnes!’ Martha wailed, clutching the pale arm of her only daughter. ‘Is he really worth it? Worth this?’
Agnes’s blank eyes were fixed on her mother as she went in and out of consciousness. Her body was unloaded from the back of the ambulance like a raw meat delivery to the local butcher.”
Agnes, Lucy and Cecila are three very different girls. But when they all find themselves in the Emergency Room on a saturday night things start to change. Each of the girls leave the ER to return to their normal lives but they each find themselves in possession of a bracelet, given to them during the night of their ER visits. Life after that night goes from bad to worse with Agnes’ mother going to an all time control-freak high, Lucy’s It girl lifestyle seeming bland and fake and Cecila being kicked out of her home. They all find themselves gravitating to a nearby church, where Sebastian is waiting for them. Sebastian has answers for each of the girls but what is the price for his answers and will the girls ever be able to return to their lives as they were before? 

The Blessed was one that I was looking forward to, very much looking forward to, but to be honest it fell a little flat for me, which was upsetting. The story was interesting but I think a slaw start and characters that I couldn’t care less about really made the book drag out a bit too much.
I liked the story but it took about 100 pages to begin. I understand that we needed a little bit of background about each of the girls to gather why the rest of the story was important but I don’t think it quite needed to be that much! Once the story began I was intrigued but it still wasn’t amazing and once I got to the end it was actually a it confusing and seemed a bit too rushed. I was happy with the conclusion of the story but the pace was all over the place in all honesty.

I don’t know much about the church and its saints so I was glad when the whole saint thing was explained but had to google the importance of Saint Sebastian as that wasn’t really covered. I did like idea of the girls being saints but I don’t think it was explored fully and am looking forward to the second book where I expect it will be a bigger aspect of the story. I liked the way each of the girls did link to their saints in their personalities. 
The characters didn’t do much for me. Agnes seemed really naive and there wasn’t much to her other than not getting along with her mother – point me in the direction of a teenage girl who does – and I couldn’t warm to her. There were indications that she was a bit of a hippy which I can get on board with but it was literally a couple of lines here and there. Lucy was an ‘It’ girl whose live revolved around making it into the news and every new club. She was actually really skint and didn’t come from the rich family that people believed but she was still an annoying girl and I really didn’t like her. Even once she started to see the errors of her lifestyle she bugged me and was still quite selfish and bothered by what everyone else thinks. Cecilia was the only one I didn’t mind, I liked her attitude and her friendship towards Bill. She wasn’t a likable character and I felt bad for her that her parents rejected her so much just because of her love for music. I didn’t like Sebastian at all and thought there was something not to be trusted with him from the start. I might not have expected what happened but I still didn’t really like him. 
Other characters were very side-lined but I liked Jesse, even if he was a bit selfish at times  he appeared to care a lot for Lucy and didn’t deserve some of the treatment he got. Dr Frey was a bit odd and I didn’t quite get his involvement towards the end of the book, but its hard to go into that without spoiling certain things. Martha was a pain in the backside too and I wasn’t impressed with her treatment of Agnes. Again the character I liked the most who wasn’t a main character was involved with Cecilia. Bill was a sweet character who had obviously fallen on bad times but didnt care so long as he had his stories. I felt so bad for him even though he was a junkie and I hoped he’d get some help, instead of having to live on Cecilia’s roof. 
The writing was very easy to read and for the most part was quite good. There wasn’t too much or too little description and it flowed ok even if the story was a little slow. this helped me get through the book to be honest and if it wasn’t as easy to read as it was I probably would have given up. One thing about the writing that really did my head in though was the constant changing of Cecilia’s name to CeCe and then back again, on one page it would change twice or more times! If a character has a nickname then thats fair enough but stick to it once it’s done.
I know this sounds like a very negative review but I did enjoy the story, I just wish it was a little faster paced and evened out. The Blessed is the first in a series, but it doesn’t end in a cliffhanger thankfully. I’m not sure how many there will be in the series but I think I will check out the second to find out what’s next in store for the girls because it got a lot more interesting towards the end, I’ll give it that! 
The Blessed was published on August 2nd by Hodder Children’s Books. My copy was sent in exchange for an honest review from the publisher. 


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