A lot of things have been going on in my writing world of late but I thought it was time to resurrect some book reviews. So for the rest of the summer I will be posting reviews of the books I read, along with a special post about series and where they can go wrong. As you probably can tell, I’m a huge urban fantasy lover and one of my favorite authors is the lovely Amber Benson. I was very excited to learn that she had a new series coming out this year about witches. So without further ado, here’s my review.
Title: Witches of Echo Park
Author: Amber Benson
So I went into reading this book expecting it be on par with Amber’s Calliope Reaper-Jones series. It pains me to say that I was a bit disappointed. The story sounded great: a young woman who learns she is supposed to join a secret coven of witches and battle against epic evil. But really, most of that didn’t happen. I knew this was the first book in the series when I went in but honestly, the pacing felt way off. Lyse (our main protagonist) doesn’t even learn the truth about her destiny until well past the half-way mark. Even once Lyse finds out the truth and starts to accept it, not a whole lot happens. Yes, she faces off against an evil doer and wins but it wasn’t even really her own powers doing it. The story ended where I felt like we had only just started to get momentum. I am intrigued to see what happens next and I will of course be reading the rest of the series but as the first into Lyse’s journey, I didn’t feel it was as strong as it could have been.
All of that said, I did enjoy the characters Amber has created. She employed the rotating narrator approach which gave some good insight into characters that you wouldn’t have gotten had it been strictly from one point of view. As a writer, I tend to employ this narrative device myself and find it helps give the reader more than one connection to the story. Lyse grew on me as time passed and I liked some of the other members of the coven. There was Daniela who has some crazy empathic powers and Arrabelle who is an herbalist and poor young Lizbeth who doesn’t speak. As the story unfolded we gleaned bits and pieces about these characters and what made them tick.
Another point in Amber’s favor is she really set the scene. You could tell she either lived in the area at one point or did a lot of research because you could feel the authenticity of the setting from the start. The casual way she tossed in street names and different areas of the Echo Park neighborhood really gave the story a sense of place and grounded it even though it was about a group of witches with mystical abilities.
This novel wasn’t perfect but I did enjoy it and I look forward to seeing what happens next for Lyse and her blood sisters.