Saturday, June 4, 2011

Witches, Potions, Spells and so Much More!

Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family)
Melissa De La Cruz's new series was written as adult fiction, but it is a great way to get fans of the Blue Blood's series to start reading more advanced books. Witches of East End is the first book in the Beauchamp series. While it is a separate series from the Blue Bloods, a few of our friendly vampires and their human companions make an appearance in this story. I really like the connection to the former series, especially since you don't have to know about the Blue Bloods... you will just enjoy the connection if you have read the former series.

Joanna and her daughters, Ingrid and Freya, are witches. Unfortunately, they are restricted witches. After Salem, the Council has had them on restriction; now they not allowed to perform magic. Joanna is a conjurer, and she can bring people back from the dead. Ingrid can predict the future and her charms can help a variety of issues. Freya is a potion maker working as a bartender; her specialty is romance and relationships. They live in the sleepy town of North Hampton as average women, but their true nature lies right beneath the surface. Slowly they become more and more bold with their magic, tired of the Council's restrictions.

For a while, the magic works fine. The townsfolk know the Beauchamps are different, but they don't question how different until things start going wrong. When a young girl goes missing, Freya and her potions are blamed. When the mayor hangs himself with a knot eerily similar to one of Ingrid's charms, his wife blames Ingrid. And when a friend Joanna saved from the afterlife comes back strange and different, it is clear Joanna may have done something wrong in saving him. These instances combined with mysterious illnesses in town and a deadly substance poisoning the water just offshore make the people of North Hampton turn to the witches with fingers pointed. Now the women must get to the bottom of the mysterious evil that is haunting their sleepy home... before something like Salem happens again.

This was a really great new start for De La Cruz. The book was written for adult audiences, but it is written in much of the same language as the author's YA series. There are a few intimate scenes that some might be concerned about giving to a younger student, but there are only a couple, and they are relatively mild. For an adult book, they are completely tame, but it might be a tad more intimate than some would feel comfortable giving to a young adult. I would have no qualms about giving this book to anyone in upper high school. Besides the occasional intimate scene, the language and content is very approachable for a younger reader.

The beauty of this story is not only the fact that it can appeal to a wide range of readers, but its complex story telling. While it seems to be a simple story about witches, there is so much more tied into it. Norse mythology makes an appearance, along with Norse God Odin, his wife Frigg, and their sons, Balder and Loki. The connection is surprising, but done with style and grace. This story has a multiple levels that will keep the readers enticed and never bored. There is too much going on to put the book down! My favorite part is that all these worlds, the worlds of witches, Gods, vampires, and much more, all come together just outside our own world of realization. All this time, just under our noses, are these amazing, and sometimes scary, creatures and beings! This was an amazing start to a new series, and I can't wait for the next installment.

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