The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman // What a Twist!

Monday, 1 August 2016
The Cost of All Things, by Maggie Lehrman
Publication: May 12, 2015, by Balzer and Bray
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: BEA/Publisher

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets We Were Liars in this thought-provoking and brilliantly written debut that is part love story, part mystery, part high-stakes drama.
What would you pay to cure your heartbreak? Banish your sadness? Transform your looks? The right spell can fix anything…. When Ari's boyfriend Win dies, she gets a spell to erase all memory of him. But spells come at a cost, and this one sets off a chain of events that reveal the hidden—and sometimes dangerous—connections between Ari, her friends, and the boyfriend she can no longer remember.
Told from four different points of view, this original and affecting novel weaves past and present in a suspenseful narrative that unveils the truth behind a terrible tragedy.

My Thoughts:

I finally took the time to read this pretty. The Cost of All Things by Maggie Lehrman is a book I have been wanting to read since getting it autographed at BEA last year, and I never expected it to head in this kind of direction. What a twist! I would definitely call this a part love story, part mystery, and I love the themes that Lehrman presented out to us readers. Mixed with different perspectives, that of our protagonist, Ari, her boyfriend who passed away, Win and their friends, Markos and Kay, who are all affected by the same thing in different ways, this is the perfect summer read that heads in a different direction than what we initially suspect will occur. Now I am suspecting that everyone around me is a hekamist, which, in this setting of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, they exist, and each character undergoes some kind of spell.

The Cost of All Things makes you want to rethink every single action you perform. You wake up, you have to rethink that. You take a step, you have to rethink that. It's so interesting how Maggie Lehrman mixes in different themes, such as death and grief, into multiple perspectives that all revolve in this plot. There's a lot of magical realism and fantasy here, too, but as I just mentioned the word "realism," it feels real. Sometimes, contemporary + magic do not flow together well, but in this case, I couldn't have asked for a better combination. A big motif here is being careful for what you wish for. 

I read this two weeks ago, and I am still in awe. This was just a great story that is captivating, intriguing, and I found myself unable to stop reading once I began. I actually read this while on a road trip, and it went really well for the seven hours that I was stuck in a car, driving through the middle of nowhere I like to call Canada. While reading, I felt like I just wanted to transport to the summer town of Cape Cod and be friends with all of the characters. This was a summer read, but I honestly feel like anyone could pick it up at any time of the year to just jump into that summer mood and feel.

"We swayed back and forth. Dancing. In the dark and wet, the two of us together. It's my favorite memory of Ari out of a thousand memories. It's the one I keep on hand, the talisman. That was the girl I loved" (34).

The main character here is Ari, who just lost her boyfriend, Win, in a freak accident that she cannot even describe or believe. She heads to a hekamist to forget about all that happened, to forget Win. She is warned to not take the spell if having already been affected by another in the past, and she has, in the past, been affected by a memory spell already: to forget about the death of her parents. We learn about Win's side of the story, the side of the story of his best friend, Markos, who is undergoing his own personal demons, and the perspective of Ari's best friend, Kay. Each have taken a spell (kind of) to forget or change something in their lives. The most prominent thing, though, is the death of Win, and how each character chooses to move on.

The main issue I had here was that I was unable to sympathize, emphasize or relate to any of the characters. Yes, they are teenagers as I am, but the fact that this was a novel based on some aspects of fantasy seemed to stir these characters away from seeming normal to readers who are learning about them. I would have liked that more down-to-earth feel, you know? I did like each of the characters, all in all, it's just that the realism did not affect their actions or words. 

I can just squeal about the cover of this all day long, and how much I loved the romance of this novel. It wasn't heavy, of course, because at the time where these characters are speaking, Win is already dead and it's the aftermath of all events, but Ari and Win seem to go back in time frequently and speak of events that they had with each other. It's heart-warming, knowing that there are two fictional characters who have had such a connection. Ari and Win seemed to intertwine in a way that many fictional couples don't get a chance to... even in a trilogy. I would not be able to state that their relationship was fast-paced, because it was over—agh, I'm just simply out of words.

This is a book that many would enjoy because it is so original and brilliant. I just would want everyone to give it a go and see how fantasy could mix with a real story so well.

The Cost of All Things contains so many themes that makes our emotions fall in a waterfall. I laughed, cheered, and felt my heart drop when the worst things occurred. The characters aren't relatable, but for me in this case, I paid attention to the fact that the book wasn't boring at all. I am seriously looking forward to more Maggie Lehrman, more poetic, lyrical writing and more good books like this. I know so many people who would need a book like this in their life. Three cheers for twisty, suspenseful mysteries that make you smile!

*A review copy was provided by the publisher via BookExpo America in exchange for a honest review. Thank you so much!*

What are some books that are contemporary mixed with fantasy (YA, please!)? What is the latest book with a twist you have read?


  1. How have I not heard of this book?! It sounds AMAZING! Great review!

    1. Right?! HarperTeen didn't seem to promote this one so well, to be honest! If I didn't get it at BookExpo America, I would've never known about it! Thank you!!


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