Rhiannon Godfrey is a psychic prodigy, but her parents don't see things her way. They think she needs a "normal" high school experienceshe wants to stay in trendy Vegas. In the small farming town of Crystal Lake, being Wiccan doesn't exactly help the Godfreys blend in. Beyond angry, Rhiannon neglects to inform her parents the farmhouse they just bought is haunted. Instead, she decides to use the resident ghost to prove that she belongs back in Dr. Richards's Institute of Parapsychology. Not that dispelling ghosts is her area of expertise, but really, how hard can it be? And then there's Jared Roberts. Totally hot. For a cowboy, that is. Only problem? He comes with an evil twin sister, the shallow and popular Janet. Janet's only goal is to make Rhee's life miserable. So when she and her friends decide it's time for a little payback, Rhee goes to her mother's book of spells. Janet needs to be taught a lesson, and what harm can come from a few words? Just one little spell.
In one sentence: Adorable, spooky, and filled with lovable characters. (Can’t believe I managed to stay away from puns with magical-related words. “It’s enchanting!” There’s one.)
The cover is ugly, the title is suspect, but it was free and I had nothing else to read, so I read it I did. And SURPRISE! It was nothing like I expected, and I am so glad of that. I was expecting it to be badly written and boring, but it’s actually really cute and not badly written at all, and, well– you’ll see.
I can’t really tolerate books that treats Wicca as if it’s the only sort of magic any modern pagan would be doing and/or that it’s a substitute for every other kind of witchcraft/magic (see here for more on that). So I was happily surprised when Ms. Hall seemed to get everything right– at least to my admittedly close-minded requirements– plus she managed to create really fun characters, a believable teenage-centered plot, and a series I will be happy to continue reading.
Though Wicca plays a large part in the story and in the characters’ lives, they don’t use it as anything than what it is: a new-ish religion with some nifty magic things and a lot of nature-related spiritualism. Rhiannon does spells, but they’re fluffy and relatively harmless, and she hasn’t got a big head about it. It’s just matter of fact, like a Catholic would be about communion. That was a terribly exciting thing for me to have in a book, since I’m so used to Wicca being treated rather lackadaisically (see Halloweentown, for instance). But even better than the Wicca aspect is the characters!
It’s pretty tough to make your teens actually sound and act like teens, especially when you’re also dealing with magic and psychic powers, but Ms. Hall manages to do it here. Huzzah! I was surprised once more to find that I liked Rhiannon, even if she’s a bit flighty and refuses to tell anyone anything until it’s nearly too late. I thought her parents were adorable and quirky, and though her friends don’t really come on the scene until later, I thought they were interesting and wanted to know more about them. Even the bullies seemed like real (brainless) bullies without being over the top.
The little bit of romance between Rhiannon and Jared was cute, though slightly in the background to the paranormal stuff. And that paranormal stuff? Yeah, it got spooky. I’m pretty freaked out by ghosts as a rule, though, and it doesn’t take much to freak me out when one’s involved in something I’m reading.
I really like this book. It’s cute, it’s fun, it’s a little bit scary, and I’d definitely recommend it for anyone interested in paranormal YA books. I have no idea if Ms. Hall will continue not disappointing me, but I’m super happy that I found one good fictional Wiccan-centered book, at least.
Read: July 2009
What’s your favorite witchcraft/pagan-centered paranormal YA book?
You may also want to check out this lovely documentary sort of thing on a modern Wiccan living in Ireland. It’s three parts, and it’s really good.