Monday, June 27, 2011

Review: Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

Things are changing in the tiny town of North Hampton -- a town that always, always stays the same. After decades apart, the Beauchamp women have finally reunited. For years, the witches were forced to abandon their magic (after things went horribly, horribly wrong in a village called Salem nearly four centuries ago). Now, however, something dark is preying upon their beloved town, and the women don't see the harm in a little white magic to protect the people they love. But when their spells start to go awry, and the accusations fly, the well-meaning witches discover that not everything is what it appears in North Hampton -- and they may be dealing with forces the mortal realm was never meant to know.

In Witches of East End, Melissa de la Cruz builds a world that will envelop readers in its small town charm. Though everyone knows everyone in the tiny, insular community of North Hampton, the population is surprisingly diverse -- from the unfathomably rich but awkward Bran Gardiner, to the mayoral power couple Todd and Corky Hutchinson, to the eccentric, magical Beauchamps: Freya, Ingrid and Joanna. The characterization of the Beauchamp women is spot on, with their dysfunctional family dynamic and individual quirks, charms and flaws. Each of the women couldn't be more different, but they're all appealing in their own way: Freya with her utter lack of inhibition. Ingrid with her bookish wisdom, and Joanna with her Mary Poppins' charm.

Unfortuately, readers are given the sense that they've dropped in on the middle of a story, with only cryptic allusions to a vague past to guide their way. It's unclear exactly what the Beauchamp women are, or why they've been forbidden to use magic, or even by whom. Their family was torn apart centuries ago, with repercussions to this day, and no explanation is given as to the how or why. The first two-thirds of the novel moves slowly, as readers try to get their bearings. When things finally do pick up in the last 50 pages, the revelations are made so quickly and randomly that readers' heads will spin. The resolution seems much too forced and tidy to be believable, and even though the Beauchamps' mysterious past is finally explained, anyone unfamiliar with certain mythologies will be more confused than ever. There is definitely a fascinating mythology at work here, and it's a shame that it isn't built coherently enough to support the world de la Cruz creates.


Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this novel at BEA. This did not affect my review in any way.

This novel is available now. Click here to purchase Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz.


Jan von Harz said...

How sad that this one doesn't work. I love a setting in a small town and enjoy most books about witches. Thinks I will pass on this one though.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Hmm, it does sound like a promising book. But seems like it might be a weak start. I wonder if the second book will pull it together a little better. Thank you for the review.

Cozy in Texas said...

This sounds like it would be a good book - sorry the pacing didn't work.

Lauren M said...

Aw, that's a bummer! Perhaps we're supposed to read the Blue Bloods series to gain more information about the Beauchamp women? (I'm just guessing; I haven't read far enough into the series to know)
Either way, I'm sorry this book wasn't all it could have been. Darn!

Carrie at In the Hammock Blog said...

aww, that's disappointing!! too bad :(

Small Review said...

Too bad. I had heard some negative things about this book before, so I had already scratched it off my TBR. The mythology that's revealed at the end didn't really seem to work with the rest of the book (at least from what I know of the book).

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