Title and author: The Promise by Apryl Baker
Date: September 16, 2011
Publisher: Black Matrix Publishing LLC
Summary (from Goodreads):
Cassie Jayne Bishop grew up in the sleepy town of New Salem, NC, the only non-believer in the tradition and power of the town Coven. When a stranger comes to New Salem, everything she thought was normal about her life unravels around her. Ethan makes her question everything, even her sister's death in a car crash years ago. As Cassie discovers the full truth about her heritage, and the clues start to pile up, she becomes determined to find out if the Coven was actually involved in her sister's death. What she uncovers terrifies her.
Her fate lies at the very heart of the secret the Coven protects. It's the reason she was born. Now, betrayed on every side, can she find a way to survive or will she be the catalyst that triggers a centuries-old act of vengeance.
First, let me say that I consider myself a connoisseur of witchy reads. I love a good witchy tale, and I love mysteries. Baker delivers both in her debut novel. The Promise is a nice mixture of Witches of Eastwick meets Nancy Drew meets The Craft.
The plot of the novel is nicely developed. At first I was afraid that it would lag in places, but once Baker thrusts the reader into Cassie’s spell, the pages will not stop turning. The reader will take the ride with Cassie as she falls in love, and as she learns the truth behind her sister’s death. Baker balances the romantic element of the plot nicely with the mystery surrounding Cassie, the founding of New Salem, and the curse that threatens to wreck it all.
Character development in the novel is spot on. It is evident that this will be a series heavy on solving witchy mysteries, but at the same time this series will be about family, friendship, self-discovery, and love. While Baker does not fully develop her characters in this novel, it is not a necessity for its purpose. Cassie’s character is the most defined because she is the center of the novel; however, readers are introduced to other characters such as Kay, Jeff, and Ethan. They serve minor, yet important, roles that are not fully defined just yet. This development is going to be a slow build, but readers will not feel cheated. They will be satisfied with just enough development to move the story along.
The marriage of everything witchy in this novel was quite interesting. Instead of sticking with the stereotypical ideals of witches, Baker takes it a step further. These witches are not practitioners of Wicca – they are witches. She defines the difference for readers in the novel, and I found this refreshing. As a matter of fact, this novel reminded me a bit of Shirley Damsgaard’s Ophelia and Abby Mysteries.
I am looking forward to seeing where Baker takes her characters and their involvement with the Coven. I am especially interested in seeing how the citizens of New Salem rebuild their lives and their Coven – especially with something dark on the horizon.