Review of “Small Town Witch” by Kristen S. Walker ( B )

Rosamunde has a good life. She made a pact with a faery and became a witch not too long ago, something her mother approved of. Rosa goes to a great school and has many good friends. Her sister doesn’t like their private school, but their mother believes it is the best place for them. Rosa feels her mother, the only other witch in town, is holding back her magic training. Her mother isn’t teaching her basic spells, causing Rosa to get in trouble with magic. However, whenever she brings this up her mother always logically explains why she is right, and Rosa always agrees even if it doesn’t make sense. Rosa’s mother also has reasons for Rosa not to date, for her family never leaving the town, and never to argue with Rosa’s mother. Rosa’s family is perfect because everyone agrees with her mom.

Rosa is beginning to think her mother has her under a spell.

Happy New Year! I hope you enjoy this review of “Small Town Witch” by Kristen S. Walker.

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Cover and Title:
The title is good, in fact it is so good that it is the title of a song. When you google “Small Town Witch” it’s the song that comes up first not the book. Still as the book gains popularity this might change. As for the cover I’ve seen worse, but I’ve also seen better. Hopefully later editions will have a more professional looking cover.

Okay onto the content.

Plot: B-
This book surprised me, but not in a good way. For the first two-thirds, I thought the book was Sweet Valley High with a likeable, bi-sexual witch as the main character; a slice of life story about a magical teen growing up in a magical town. The parents seemed a bit controlling, but teens always think their parents are controlling. A slice of life type story isn’t one I prefer, but it does have a big audience and having a witch as the main character is a nice twist. Heck, having the character be bi-sexual without having the story overly sexualized should attract the young LGBT community.

The problem is that a whole new plot about the family being mentally controlled and abused by the mother takes over two-thirds of the way in. It is actually a good plot, but it completely changes the tone of the book. And worst of all it just stops at the end. Rosa does come to accept her situation and takes steps to end it, but much is left unresolved for later books.

Why is this a problem? The book starts out set up for one audience and ends for another. Fortunately, the two audiences do tend to have tastes that overlap, but not everyone likes both types of stories. If I were not reviewing this book, I would have stopped reading long before it became interesting for me.

Hopefully, Ms. Walker will improve her ability to keep a consistent tone in later books.

Characters: B+
Rosamunde is a well written character. She acts like a normal teenager, with unique abilities. Her abilities just happen to be magical. She is nice, intelligent, creative, and loyal, but she is not perfect. She makes mistakes, but understandable ones, especially because she has not received proper magical training. Her character is great.

The rest of the cast however is hit or miss.

The faery she made her pact with, Lavender (well that was one of his names in the story), was a lot of fun to read about. He likes to tease Rosa, but not cruelly. He gives her good advice and helps her discover the spells that have been cast on her. It is a bit creepy when he flirts with her, because he is so much older, however even he admits that and would never force her to return affections. I found his flirting more playful than serious.

Unfortunately, Rosa’s other friends tend to blend into each other. Rosa is friends with a couple who are both half -fey. They also seem like two halves of one character, talking over each other’s lines, agreeing with each other, giving Rosa the same advice, etc. I suppose couples can be like that in real life, but one character could have done both parts. Rosa is also friends with a Kitsune ( a boy that can turn into a fox) and a girl who has vampires for parents. Either character could have been more interesting if one of them had been dropped and their scenes were given to the other character. Yes, the boy is Rosa’s love interest for the story, but she is bi-sexual so the vampire girl could have filled that role easily. There were seeds of interesting characters here, sadly none of these characters blossomed.

Rosa’s family isn’t much better. Mom and Dad seemed like typical parents. Though that may have been intended to make the discovery of the mind control spell all the more shocking. Rosa’s sister just seems grouchy, which is a shame. If she were more well-rounded her part in the story would have been more compelling.

World Building/Setting: A
Rosa’s world is awesome. Ms. Walker clearly researched her mythical characters. She even uses the term “witch” correctly, something other fantasy writers have gotten wrong. If this had been a mere slice of life story, the world alone would have been enough the keep the reader engaged. She even used Japanese mythological characters by adding a Kitsune to the cast.

She also does a decent job of drawing the reader into the story. I felt like I was in the garden with Rosa working, walking through the school, or lost in a place between worlds with her.

If all you need is a neat setting to be interested in a story, this book is for you.

Theme: B-
Stand up for yourself no matter who is holding you down. This theme is good, but not as realized as it could have been, mostly because the plot that focuses on it doesn’t come until near the end. Friendship is another theme. Trust in good friends. Be friends with people who are different. It’s good stuff, though once again not as strong as it could have been. If the tone of the story came across clearer I think the themes would have as well.

Grammar/Style/Word Usage: A
This is a well written and well edited book.

Overall grade: B
“Small Town Witch” is an enjoyable read for a slow rainy day. If you like what you have read in this review you can pick up your copy on:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Site news:
My husband has a new school schedule, so it turns out Saturday is a better day to release new reviews.

I will try to put up a new schedule for the blog by Monday.

My next book to review is “Over Mt Fuji” by Joel Huan. Looking forward to it.

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