Thursday, February 09, 2012

Review: It Takes a Witch by Heather Blake

Ugh, I've been meaning to write this review for days... and things just come up. I want to write, but my sister has hijacked my computer. I have the computer, but I feel like reading. At work, I've been running like a chicken without a head ^_^; But the worst reason? I've addicted myself again to Minesweeper. Pathetic, yes I know. That what happens when you have an addictive personality :( But I finally stopped long enough to write this review :) And hopefully, I'll be able to wean myself off... Wish me luck LOL.

It Takes a Witch by Heather Blake
published by New American Library in January 2012

Darcy Merriweather and her sister, Harper, hail from a long line of witches who have the power to grant wishes using spells. They're come to Enchanted Village in Salem, Massachusetts, to join the family business, but they soon find themselves knee-deep in murder...

Until three weeks ago, Darcy and Harper were working dead-end jobs and trying to put their troubles behind them. Then their aunt Velma delivered a bombshell: They're actually Wishcrafters - witches with the power to grant wishes with a mere spell. Wanting a fresh start, they head to their aunt's magic-themed tourist town to master their newfound skills.

But their magic fails them when a wannabe witch turns up dead - strangled with Aunt Ve's scarf - and Ve's sweetheart, Sylar, is found looming over the body. Ve is standing by her man, but Darcy overheard Sylar wish that the victim would disappear - forever. With Harper distracted by her handsome new crush, Darcy is determined to sleuth her way to the truth. But it'll take more than a wish to unravel this mystery...
Genre: Mystery
Series: A Wishcraft Mystery, Book #1

The Story: After their father's death, Darcy and Harper Merriweather learn from their maternal aunt Velma that magic really exists in this world. Not only that, Darcy and Harper are both Wishcrafters! This means that under the right circumstances, they can grant people's wishes with a spell. For Darcy, this revelation comes at a perfect time. With her father dead and his dental clinic closed, Darcy is without a job, she still hasn't moved on from her divorce two years ago and with Harper's latest arrest, she's at a wit's end. Thus, she jumps at the opportunity to move to the Enchanted Village in Salem, Massachusetts, for a fresh start.

As Darcy is learning the ropes of both Aunt Ve's business, As You Wish, and wishcrafting, she and Harper are slowly settling down in the Enchanted Village and learning the rules of their new world. Darcy is happy with her new life... but unfortunately for her, it is about to get complicated when Alexandra Shively, a woman who claimed to be a Crafter, is found dead and the main suspect is Velma's current beau. And then, there's Nick Sawyer, a widower with a daughter and also the first man since her divorce whose sight makes her heart beats faster... and also a Mortal.

My Opinion:  I was really looking forward to It Takes a Witch for two reasons. First, as you must all know by now, I'm a fan of witches and wizards characters. I can't express in words my attraction to them. Perhaps it's the possibility of magic or the fact that among the supernatural beings, they're the closest to normal but with a few quirks :P Anyway, I like witches and wizards :) Second and most important, the author is Heather Blake aka Heather Webber who writes the Lucy Valentine series, a series that I've really been enjoying :) I've been looking forward to her next release and therefore, It Takes a Witch :)

I have to admit that at first, I was a bit anxious about It Takes a Witch. While I love witches and wizards characters, finding good books featuring them is hard ^_^; Guess I'm really picky when it comes to world building and the use of their powers. Also, I've been reading more cozy mysteries lately and discovered that I'm not a fan of characters sleuthing... which is 95% of the cozy mystery genre ^_^; However, it turns out my worries were for naught and in the end, I really enjoyed It Takes a Witch :)  Once again, Ms Heather (dunno if I should go with Blake or Webber, so Ms Heather it is) has come up with fun characters and a cute series.

What I liked most about It Takes a Witch was the setting and atmosphere. The Enchanted Village reminds me of a town square with a lot of touristic attractions, shops and where everyone knows each other. It seems serene and cute, but at the same time, quirky and it's the feel I got from reading the book :) I also think Ms Heather did a great job with the world building when it came to the Crafters. In the acknowledgments, Ms Heather thank a friend for the hours spent fleshing out the rules and I believe it was hours well-spent! :) It's clear that Ms Heather knows where she is going and that the world is fleshed out in her mind. I like that there are rules, structure to this world. Another reason I think why the world building worked so well for me is the fact that Darcy is new to this world. As a result, she has limited knowledge and nothing is a given, taken for granted or considered 'normal.' And instead of the dreaded info dump, readers get to discover the world alongside Darcy :)

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed a lot was the characters. Ms Heather has created a fun and likable cast and I find they really contributed to the feel of It Takes a Witch :) They're just fun and good-natured and of course, curious :) Oh and I liked Ms Heather's inclusion of the familiars!! :) Of course, I should mention Darcy as she's the heroine. I have to say, I really liked Darcy :) It seems like Darcy was stuck in a rut before discovering she was a Crafter. However, once she moved to the Enchanted Village, it looks like she has finally awaken. I like that she's taking advantage of this fresh start and is embracing her new life. She's making new friends and becoming part of the community. It was really nice to see. The only thing that bothered me about Darcy was the fact that she was a bit too suspicious of everyone and everything. I guess it's because I trust too easily in real life... But to see her question everyone's motives and intentions, it just felt  a bit sad and very tiring to me :(

Of course, the fact that Darcy was suspicious served well to storyline :) Otherwise, I doubt she'd have sleuthed around to resolve the mystery. Speaking of the mystery, I enjoyed it too. It was interesting and suspenseful enough to keep me engaged. And I liked that the culprit wasn't obvious. There were some nice twists and surprises and that's always nice when reading cozy mysteries. I also appreciated the touch of romance or should I say the promise of romance in the future :) I liked Nick and I think he and Darcy have a great chemistry together. I thought the pacing of their relationship fit with the circumstances and the fact that they've both been burned before. I'm definitively looking forward to more.

My only complaint about It Takes a Witch aside from Darcy being over-suspicious is the fact that this series has a lot of similarities with the Lucy Valentines series. Darcy is a witch and Lucy, a psychic. Both work in a family businesses that take advantage of their abilities. And while this new series isn't as fluffy as the Lucy Valentine's, the feel is very similar. I don't think it's a bad thing that Ms Heather took elements that worked in the Lucy Valentine series and used them here... but it definitively gives a sense of déjà-vu a times. That being said, it won't stop me from reading both series and enjoying them LOL.

My Grade: B. I really liked It Takes a Witch and thought it was a solid first installment to the series. I'm looking forward to the next book, A Witch Before Dying, coming out in August :)