The story centers on Barrie Watson, a teenage girl about to enter her senior year of high school when her mother dies and she is sent to live on a plantation in South Carolina with family she's never heard of. There she discovers a reclusive aunt, cute future lawyer and/or baseball player, possibly murderous uncle, jealous cousin, family secrets, potential magic, and a curse that will change her life. It's difficult to summarize this book without spoiling anything, but just trust me when I say that there are twists and turns every few pages.
As someone who generally appreciates character development more than plot, I didn't really like Barrie for most of the book. She felt somewhat like a real teenage girl, albeit not a very bright one. Over the course of the book, she didn't change a whole lot, even when crazy things were happening in her life that definitely should have affected her.
While I didn't like that, though, I did like the exploration of family. I wish the book had gone a little deeper into Barrie's aunt, mother, and the rest of the family, because there seemed to be some tense, yet interesting, dynamics in their past that could have been explored a little more. For instance, Barrie's mother and aunt are revealed to have had very different and complicated relationships with their father, but Barrie only seems interested in learning the basics of those relationships.
Overall, my reaction to this book was kind of a rollercoaster. I didn't like it, then I did, then I didn't, and then I kind of did again. By the end, I appreciated the story for what it was, but I still wished there had been a little more to it. I think it was a fascinating idea for a novel with a lot of potential, but I think because of how much there was to work with, it could have been more than it turned out to be. I didn't dislike it by the time I was finished, but I also didn't feel compelled to read the sequel.