Book Review: Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

8113940This is one of those books that I just really really wanted to like, but sort of feel meh about. I first became interested in this series because I’ve been watching the tv show. This is how I discovered the Dresden Files, and I wish I could feel the same way about these books as I do about Dresden. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t live up to my expectations.

Watch out for spoilers below!

The plot(s) revolve around the Beauchamp family of witches: Joanna, Ingrid, and Freya. There are quite a few plot threads happening, and not all of them are really necessary to what turns out to be the main plot of the book. First, Freya is torn between two brothers, Bran and Killian, who have mysteriously arrived back at the old abandoned mansion of Fair Haven. Freya is set to marry Bran, but she can’t keep away from Killian. Second, her sister Ingrid struggles with her jealousy when Matt, a police man, starts dating one of her coworkers. Thirdly, Joanna, the girls’ mother, hires a family to help keep up her house and ends up taking care of their little boy, Tyler. Freya, a bartender begins making love potions for her patrons, practicing magic even though it’s against the rules of a mysterious Council (that we never learn about). Then Ingrid starts making knotted talismans for her library patrons. Then Joanna decides to use magic to entertain the little boy and also to resurrect a man who died after being in a coma. Then, a mysterious silver poison starts bubbling up from the ocean near the town. A teenager who drank one of Freya’s potions is found dead, the mayor who’s wife used a fidelity knot from Ingrid hangs himself, Tyler becomes sick to the point of death, and Joanna is accused of murdering a man named Bill. And then there are a random group of Vampires (a completely unnecessary cameo appearance of characters from de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods novels) that come through town looking for Ingrid’s help. Ingrid tells them to go look up some magical law, and that’s the end of that.

Whew. And that’s not even the good part. So all of this stuff is happening to the three women, and in the meantime, Ingrid has been consulting with her missing father via text message about some blue prints of Fair Haven. The mystery of some weird symbols on the blue prints is unravelled by Ingrid and her father separately, and we don’t get to find out what this has to do with anything until almost the very end of the book. This is when the most interesting parts of the book happen, and it’s also part of a major reveal about the witches’ past. An entire (more interesting) novel could have been written just on their background alone, along with the fight between Bran and Killian, which is integral to the big reveal and turns out to be the main plot of the book. The other, smaller plots that take up the bulk of the word count of the book are wrapped up very hastily, and they don’t provide much insight on the characters, and they don’t offer any real support to the main plot.

The ideas presented in the book had a lot of potential. I just wish the writing had lived up to it. 2/5

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Book Review: Darkwalker by E. L. Tettensor

Darkwalker by E. L. TettensorDarkwalker: A Nicolas Lenoir Novel by E. L. Tettensor is a novel set in a secondary world resembling the Victorian era with Sherlockian detective novel elements combined with bits of magic. Police inspector Nicholas Lenoir was once a legendary detective known for solving even the most difficult cases when some mysterious act of his brings him to the attention of a spirit known as the Darkwalker. Ten years later, Lenoir is living in a backwater town, bored out of his mind, and plagued with nightmares of his impending death at the hands of the Darkwalker when his young orphan informant, Zach, is kidnapped. Lenoir has discovered that bodies of 9 year old boys had been dug up for use in dark magic, and now live boys are being taken potentially for this same purpose.

Though it’s interesting to see a Sherlock Holmes style detective in a magical world, what makes this novel even more interesting is the Darkwalker character. As the novel progresses, we only get to see bits and pieces of this character and his mysterious background. He is a spirit whose purpose is to avenge wrongs done against the dead. We are left to interpret what that might entail. Additionally, we learn some things about the Darkwalker that leads us to believe that he’s not acting on his own free will. There’s obviously more to his story, but the focus of the novel is on solving the case and recovering Zach. I would love it if in future novels, Tettensor could give us more of a glimpse into the Darkwalker’s world. I want to know how he came to be the Darkwalker, and his struggle against whatever is driving him to carry out his purpose would make for an interesting story on its own.

I also found the culture of the Adali interesting. These are a gypsy-like group of people who are known for practicing magic and for their nomadic ways. Because their culture is so different from the culture of the city-dwellers, the Adali are often discriminated against and treated poorly. Again, we only get a small glimpse into their world, and only to serve the purposes of driving the plot forward. I hope future books delve a bit further into their world as well.

All in all, I would say this is a fantastic debut novel set in a wonderfully realized world that I really want to know more about. I’ll be picking up the next book in this series for sure.

Make sure you visit the author’s website at www.eltettensor.com. It’s one of the most beautiful author websites I think I’ve ever come across.

4/5.