July 9, 2011

This novel has cast its spell on me...

I am always looking for a great, witchy tale. I was excited about this novel because (1) it was about witches and (2) it is going to be a series. After I bought the novel it was immediately on my "next to read" list. It took me a few days to get into the novel - not because it was not a great read but because I seemed to be in a reading slump. I just could not concentrate, and this novel deserved my undivided attention. After three days, the slump was broken and I raced to devour every single word.

Book jacket summary
The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful lives. But they are harboring a mighty secret--they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there's Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache.

For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hid her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it's time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.

My thoughts
Wow - great storytelling! That is the first thing that comes to mind about this novel.  I would love to work in a library with Ingrid and live in a town like North Hampton.

Here's why I loved this novel: (1) Joanna, Ingrid, and Freya; (2) Killian Gardiner; (3) strong, fresh, clever plot; (4) minor characters; (5) setting.

I want to first address our three heroines in the novel: Joanna, Ingrid, and Freya. What can I say? They each bring a strength to the story that kept me wanting more. I enjoyed the narrative style of the novel where I was treated to each of their stories, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes not. Each of these women bring a fresh perspective to the witchy world of literature that really worked for me. Joanna, the mother who maybe cares too much but still allows her daughters space. Ingrid, who hides behind her work in the library while pinning away, ignoring her own needs. Freya, the spicy one who brings a bit of heated romance to the tale in a variety of ways. I loved all three of them and look forward to having their tale unfold in the next novel.

And then there's Killian Gardiner. What a H-O-T character; spicy hot! While Freya has promised herself to Bran, she cannot seem to keep away from Killian. While he seems to be a minor character, he plays into the plot in a surprising and clever way. One I definitely did not see coming.

The strong, fresh plot I will not say much about for one reason: spoilers! I am so afraid of revealing something, so all I will say is this - if you read a lot of witchy lit like myself, you will enjoy fresh take de la Cruz takes with this novel. This was not just a novel about three witches, it was an unfolding mystery that needed solving. I also enjoyed the way she wrapped up the mystery. It was not in a cheesy way - it was well-done.

The minor characters that are scattered throughout only add to my love of this novel. From those who work with Ingrid in the library to the little boy who steals Joanna's heart to those Freya encounters while working in a bar, it is clear that de la Cruz understands how important minor characters are to strong storytelling. There was not one single character where I thought, "What was the point of that one?" Every character was needed to move the plot forward.

Finally the setting - North Hampton, NY. The creation of this setting really worked for me. It acted as the perfect background for what de la Cruz was trying to accomplish with novel. I had this quaint island in my mind while I read with a town not unlike Salem, MA (which happens to be alluded to throughout), with just as much mystery to it as its inhabitants. This is a town I could see myself living in.

I look forward to the continuation of this series, one I expect mighty things from...after all, after that ending, it can only get better.

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