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The Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz (Thoughts)

November 22, 2011

From the author’s website:
Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family—the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid. Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots. Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead. Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya’s irresistible cocktails. As more of the town’s residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women. 

I really wanted to like The Witches of East End. Really, really wanted to. But from the beginning I knew that this book and I were not going to be fast friends.

To start with, I will say that I really liked that the Beauchamp women were really old and that they had been around for a very long time. I liked that they were the same witches from the Salem trials, that they were very old beings fitting in to modern society. It was probably my favourite aspect of the book.

Unfortunately I have more complaints than I do praises.

First – Really, this is a YA book? I don’t want to bring up the whole ‘what is the definition of YA’ debate, but generally speaking, my own definition is that a YA book is one that a) is about teens who b) are going through trials that modern teens can relate to. The youngest of the Beauchamps is 19, so I guess she’s technically a teen, although she fibs and has people believing she’s a few years older. The women of The Witches of East End seemed more like adults acting like teens. Woah, this is sounding harsher than I thought it would. Let’s move on.

*POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD!*

Second – While I liked that the Beauchamps had been around the block a few times, the whole Norse mythology thing seemed to come out of left field. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read any of de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods series (which I now know exists in the same universe), but the Norse stuff suddenly popping up at the end seemed a bit odd. Yes, there were hints throughout the book that these woman had had an interesting history, but there didn’t seem to be any lead up to their suddenly realization of ‘Oh! This is what’s happening! And btw, we’re goddesses’. If there was, I was totally clueless and completely missed it – which is entirely possible. And honestly, if there had been more of a lead up, I think I would have really liked the Norse twist to the Salem witches.

*END POTENTIAL SPOILERS!*

I’ll end with one last thing I liked about The Witches of East End: the ending. You could very easily skip the last chapter and have a nicely tied-up stand alone book. The last chapter picks up on a new, yet related, storyline and serves as a bit of a teaser for the next book. I think I prefer this approach to the ginormous cliffhangers.

I’ll recommend The Witches of East End to anyone who has read and enjoyed the Blue Bloods series. Unfortunately it just wasn’t the right kind of book for me.

My rating: 6/10

I don’t read many books about witches, so this one reminded me of a book I read when I was a kid and cannot for the life of me remember what it was called. Middle grade, probably came out early to mid 90s. About a girl who goes to live with her eccentric aunts who turn out to be witches. And…. that’s all I remember. Anyone?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2011 12:34 pm

    It’s not April’s Witches, is it? I seem to remember books along similar lines, but that one came out in the ’70s-ish, I believe. And then there’s always Witch of Blackbird Pond.

  2. November 23, 2011 6:02 am

    Melissa de la Cruz made it on my TBR but I’m not sure which book(s) it is. It might be the Blue Bloods series. Maybe that’s where I need to start.

  3. December 1, 2011 9:23 am

    I hadn’t seen this book referred to as YA. If I had, I probably would never have picked it up. My views were pretty consistent with yours – enjoyed it until the strange creatures appeared at the end – and they so easily could have been left out and the story would not have suffered. I liked the way she left a bit of a cliff-hanger, but not enough to frustrate me if I never get a chance to read the next book.

    Good review.

  4. December 11, 2011 6:47 pm

    I used to really enjoy the Blue Bloods books but they annoy me now and I checked out the latest book from the library just to skim it and find out what happens. I was not a fan of this book either. I think the author faces some of the same struggles with her writing that Charlaine Harris has. Too much going on and trying to fit too many details in so the end result is something jumbled. Very good review though.

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