Thursday, July 7, 2011

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

Release Date: June 21, 2011
Published by: Hyperion

This isn't a YA title, but since it's by Melissa de la Cruz, a popular YA author, I thought some of you would be interested.

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

From the author of the highly addictive and bestselling Blue Bloods series, with almost 3 million copies sold, comes a new novel, Melissa de la Cruz's first for adults, featuring a family of formidable and beguiling witches. 

The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret--they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there's Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache. 

For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hide her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it's time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them. 

With a brand-new cast of characters, a fascinating and fresh world to discover, and a few surprise appearances from some of the Blue Blood fan favorites, this is a page-turning, deliciously fun, magical summer read fraught with love affairs, witchcraft, and an unforgettable battle between good and evil.

Ten Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) Freya & Ingrid, the protagonists - I write that they're both the protagonists because it felt like they both got equal screen time so to speak (unlike Joanna, who we also see the world through, but her presence is less... notable in my opinion at least).  They're both strong females with equally strong wills.  While Freya is impulsive, senses what others feel, and likes to breathe life into parties, Ingrid prefers the quieter life, but don't be mistaken--they're both very likable and their powers are extraordinary.  It was great to see North Hampton and its inhabitants through both of their eyes.
2. (+) Multiple Points of View - Most of the times, I don't actually like multiple points of view.  More often than not, I like one of the characters better than the rest and wish I could just read the book from that person's point of view.  Even though that also happened here, I was still pleased with the multiple POVs because Melissa de la Cruz really used them well.  She established such great suspense in both unlocking the details about the Restriction/the fantasy world and what was happening to North Hampton.
3. (+) The Romance - Well, it is an adult novel so you have some descriptive scenes... but it didn't feel cheap at all; it was slow building and had a mysterious bent to it, at least where Freya was concerned. Ingrid also had her share coming for her when she least expected it.  Altogether very well-written.
4. (+) World-building - I loved how she used the magic each character held as a way of marking their personalities.  I love how open her fantasy world is with the Fallen and gods and goddesses.  I loved the small scenes she inserted about the Blue Bloods.  I don't want to ruin any of the details for you, but one thing is for certain: it's definitely different than anything I've read this summer.  Well, exception being Wildefire but it too has that original bent to it.  Historical fiction and mythology combined in small doses throughout the novel (except at the end).
5. (+) The Other Characters - Wow.  Although I sometimes felt that there were too many details about the more trivial characters, I still think that Ms. de la Cruz developed her characters well.  And did a freaking amazing job with their complexity.  I definitely did not see the transformation coming for some of them but once it did, the details she put into establishing the 'cover' for the characters were astounding and made it clear that she excels in character building.
6. (--) Info-dump - Directly related to my point below.  She had done such a great job slowly establishing the world... until the end with the massive info-dump that I had to reread to fully understand.
7. (--) The Ending - No, no, no.  This is an issue I'll talk about in pacing, but while the ending was a nice surprise, it came way too quickly.  Given that Ms. de la Cruz spent the whole novel slowly building up to this point, it would seem fair that it would get equal attention.  Instead it felt rushed and the epilogue?  Okay, I already knew there was going to be a second book, and while I'm not a fan of cliffhangers, it would've probably been better to have one than to put that in the epilogue.  Or at least not tie up all the loose ends she established in the book with such a tidy bow.
8. (+) The Writing - Even if I didn't like the ending, I loved the writing.  Melissa de la Cruz does a great job with imagery and it's easy to slip into her fantasy worlds.  Also, though I think that the pacing could have been done better, she does a good job of keeping you on edge--that is to say, she's one of the queens of cliffhangers at the end of chapters that make you want to keep reading on to find out more.  And individual scenes, like the romance scenes, were especially well-written.
9. (--) Pacing - As you may have already seen from what I said on the ending, the pacing is pretty uneven in this book.  The first chapter and prologue were awesome... and then came the slower, multi-perspective narratives that slowed down the momentum she had built.  And the prologue?  It took so long for some sort of connection to form and almost lost its importance in the midst of all the details that she kept establishing.  Yes, there was a lot of tension and yes, it was gradually leading to the end... but it all felt like a sinusoidal function--high at the beginning, slow, slow, getting better, climbing, hit its peak, and bam already decreasing.  (And yes, I just comparing pacing in a novel to math.)  I just think it could have been done better.
10. (--) The Cover - I think the cover is really aesthetically pleasing.  The colors are nicely contrasted against each other... but now after reading the book -- what does it have to do with anything?  It doesn't tell you anything about the book.  And that eye is freaking me out a little; I have no clue what they were trying to do with that.

Despite my deep dislike of the ending, I would still recommend this novel to others.  It had great romance, wonderfully complex characters, and a fantasy world better, in my opinion, than the one she established in her Blue Bloods series.

This review is also a part of Review Appreciation Day, a meme hosted by Cait at the Cait Files.  This week's theme is magic.  Make sure to check it out!


  1. I haven't read anything my Melissa de La Cruz but may have to look into them soon. [: Great review.

    re your comment: My fav is definitely Looking for Alaska but Paper Towns is great too. [:

  2. Great review! I'll definitely check this book out.

  3. I liked the Blue Bloods series---at least the first three--so I really want to give this one a try. :)

  4. New follower! I'll be checking this book out. I was excited to see on new series on the horizon by Melissa de la Cruz! Visit me @ Read Love.


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