Published: June 21st, 2011
Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family #1)
By: Melissa De La Cruz
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, had 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 hide 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.
I was never intitally interested in reading this series when it first came out, especially since I quit Melissa's Blue Bloods series by book #4. Her writing in the past had never impressed me and I didn't even care to try. Then I checked out Season One of the Lifetime TV show, based on these books, from my library. I got addicted to the show within just one episode (and took my younger brother right along with me :p) and decided that I should stop being ass-backwards and just give the book a shot already! This being the first in the series, I wasn't expecting much beyond the normal fluff, world-building and character introductions. Maybe I enjoyed it as much as I did because I was picturing the wonderfult characters from the TV show. But I was suprised by just how much I did happen to enjoy this particular bit of fluff!
We get to see each chapter from a different Beauchamp woman's perspective. Therefore we get insights into the minds of Freya, Ingrid, and their mother, Joanna. All of them are immortal witches who have been banned by a council from using their powers, after an incident in Puritan-era Salem. We aren't told exactly what happened, but are able to gather that it was verging on catastrophic. The ladies are happy in North Hampton, with Ingrid working at the library and having a possible romance on the horizon with the handsome police detective, Matt Noble, and Freya on the cusp of marriage to wealthy Bran Gardiner. But something is always missing from their lives. The pull of magic becomes too strong to resist and they start using again, Freya starts mixing magical drinks at the bar where she works. Ingrid starts weaving knots to help people with their problems, doing an open hour at the library when people can come to her. And Joanna is just using magic to amuse their housekeeper's little boy, who reminds her of her own lost son, Frederick.
A lot of people complain that nothing really happens in this book and it is a slow burn, I will admit. Especially since there is seemingly nothing for them to discover. Unlike on the TV show, Ingrid and Freya are not continuously reborn/reincarnated and they know about their powers. It's very much about the daily monotony of life and the choices the women make for their lives. But a chain of events is set off when Freya sleeps with Bran's brother, Killian, at their engagement party. Another chain starts when the girls start using their powers. It all culminates in a girl's disappearance and the start of a witch hunt by people who had previously revered the Beauchamp's recently revealed powers. The book ends in an answer to the mystery, but opens more questions with a startling mythological revelation. Let's just say that the witches aren't necessarily witches, but something far more ancient and powerful. I will not say anything else so as not to spoil, but while I do think the TV show is surprisingly better done, this was a quick and fun, fluffy read. I'd recommend to those who like a bit of candy-floss now and then.
VERDICT: 3.5/5 Stars
**No money or favors were exchanged for this review. This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**