“Kemina and Gabrielle aren’t just cousins, they are members of the illustrious de Valais family of witches.
On Midsummers Eve the cousins experience the sudden death of a classmate. An event unleashed by the wrath of an obscure enemy. With their impending enrollment in the magical Mont Grey Academy, tensions between the two are rising.
A sudden trip to Italy will change everything they know and force the girls to confront centuries old secrets. With the entrance of new friends, they begin to find themselves, just as an ominous presence draws closer.
Learning to draw on their powers, their teenage impulses to stand out and be noticed are put to the test against loyalty to their kind. Will the revelation of a hidden deception change the course of their lives? Or will love truly conquer all, no matter how dysfunctional?”
Who’s driving this thing?
Actually, two witches are driving this thing. Kemina and Gabrielle de Valais. Cousins, witches and both raised by their grandmother in a town called Lexington. Kemina is a dedicated witch who has little time for friends and takes a serious approach to life. Her natural talent for witchcraft is obvious to everyone in her coven and especially Gabrielle, who prefers food and a busy social life to anything remotely magical.
Despite their differences, the two girls are best friends and are always there for each other. This bond between them felt very wholesome and it was one of the best parts of the book.
What’s this all about?
The book throws us straight into the danger with the killing of a friend of Gabrielle’s during a high school party by a mysterious “shadow man.” The de Valais coven and soon, witches around the world, come together to discover what this shadow man is, what it wants and how it can be defeated.
What’s with the two stars?
I was so excited to read this book. The cover was amazing and when I read the blurb, I felt sure this was going to be a fantastic read. But this book had some big issues that I genuinely tried to ignore because I really wanted to give this a good review. In the end, they were just too much. Here’s what went wrong:
Lack of action: How is that possible when the book opens with a murder? Well, we don’t actually get to see the murder or even the scene of the crime. This is a running theme throughout the book. If something exciting happens, it’s almost always done “off camera.” What are the protagonists doing during these exciting moments? Sitting at home worrying, with no inclination to get up and have an adventure.
The whole show vs. tell thing: There are one or two action scenes, but the ones we get to see aren’t very immersive. The action is listed off in a “she did this”/”he did that” fashion, with no reference to senses, feelings or even thoughts during the encounter.
The evidence always comes to them: Throughout the book, Kemina and Gabrielle don’t actually do very much investigating. One way or another, often through their grandmother or another witch telling them, the information they need is brought to them with minimal effort. The mystery and drive of the book is completely shattered because I just knew that at any moment, someone was going to pop into the living room with an important piece of information.
Inappropriate reactions: This one is mostly about Gabrielle, as Kemina is mostly a rational thinker. Gabrielle’s over/under-reactions vary from slapping her friend because he said something mildly insulting to ordering pizza to take her mind off the fact her friends are stuck on a mountain, cornered by the shadow man. Her reactions were kinda off-the-wall and made me question if I really knew her as a character at all.
Anything good to report?
The character development for the most part was really good, even if there wasn’t a great deal to encourage it. The characters themselves were unique and enjoyable to read, it would just have been nice to read about them doing more than they did.
Should I get it?
It hurts to say it, but I recommend a pass on this one. The story just doesn’t live up to the high expectations that the cover and the blurb set. But, that’s just my opinion so if you want to check it out here’s the Amazon link.
Thanks for reading my review! Have you read this book? Let me know what you think.