Saturday, 23 July 2011

Review: Witches of the East by Melissa De La Cruz

(American Title: Witches of the East End)
Very mild spoilers contained below. Nothing major though.

It’s the beginning of summer in North Hampton, and beautiful Freya Beauchamp is celebrating her engagement to wealthy Bran Gardiner, the heir to Fair Haven and Gardiners Island. But Freya is drawn to Bran’s gorgeous but unreliable brother Killian, and sparks fly when the two decide to play a dangerous game, following an ancient story of love, betrayal and tragedy that harks back to the days of Valhalla. 
Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family—the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid. Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots. Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead. Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya’s irresistible cocktails. As more of the town’s residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women. 

I had certain expectations of this book after reading the blurb on the book (different to the blurb I’ve included) – it looked like it would be good, but more of a summer read rather than anything my jaw dropped over. I was so completely wrong, the blurb really doesn’t do the book justice.

I liked De La Cruz’s young adult series ‘Blue Bloods’ although it’s been a while and a few new books since I last read some of it, and as a first adult offering I thought the book was a brilliant cross over. It tackled older characters, a lot more sex, and some intriguing themes that I wasn’t expecting, and the whole thing was just so much more than I’d been anticipated. It was like thick bread and soup rather than a salad.

The prologue offers an intriguing start, slow and quiet, but intriguing nonetheless and serves as a brilliant hook. Once we’re into the main body of the novel it does take its sweet time – but I like it when an author does that. I want to get to know the characters, I want to care about them so that when everything kicks off later on, I worry and shriek over them.

And the characters are really well constructed – everyone slots in, everyone has a place – and I loved that small town element of the book. I really cared about each of the three girls, no favourites here – although I will admit to being swayed over Freya getting to spend more time with Killian… What can I say, it’s the leather jackets!

And oh good lord the sheer amount of mythology and historical interweaving. I love the Salem ties, and the Norse mythology was brilliantly interwoven. My only complaint was that a lot of the Norse stuff came in very late in the story. That did up the ante and really race the book along to its conclusion, but it tended to be a little overwhelming too, so I had to re-read a few passages to make sure I was fully up to speed.

However, that was only a minor gripe. It reminded me a lot of ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller – the closed off feeling of the town, the slow build and suffocation of it all. But I also liked the differences – the well wishes and love sent by the townsfolk.  It really felt a little bit like a modern day crucible.
So yes, all in all I loved it. I would have liked a little more of a lead up to the mythology that came crashing in at the end, but it’s all set up brilliantly for a sequel which I am eagerly anticipating.
I highly recommend it, and was pleasantly surprised by the layers and depth I found reading it. Definitely a series to watch out for.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't really like the Blue Bloods series...but this seems like it'll be good. I love Norse mythology, so maybe this will be more my thing... Thanks for the review!
    Nina @ Death Books and Tea