Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Trouble with Spells by Lacey Weatherford

 Title: The Trouble with Spells
Series: Of Witches and Warlocks
Author: Lacey Weatherford
Length:  5125 kindle units
Rating: 4 stars

The Plot

Vance has been waiting for two years for Portia’s sixteenth birthday. That’s the day that her parents will tell her that she’s a witch and allow her to join his coven. Only then can he admit the strong connection that he feels to her, an attraction that she fully reciprocates.

Portia has more to worry about than her new powers. Vance is on the run from his father, a practitioner of dark magic who is eager to initiate his son into his demonic coven. As their enemy draws closer, Portia and Vance must decide which is more important -- their love… or their lives.

The Good

I seem to be having trouble writing these Good sections. Not because there is nothing good to say about the book, but because I have nothing to say about the good things. It’s like a variation of Tolstoy’s quote about all happy families being alike. Except in this case, all good things about books are alike, and all bad things are bad in their own special way.

Nonetheless, there were many good things about The Trouble with Spells. The writing is actually quite good, and the plot is very engaging. The last quarter of the book was especially exciting, with bombs and kidnappings and demons! The mythology in the book was also interesting and original. I enjoyed watching how Portia learned about magic – both her own good magic and the bad magic of her enemies.

The Bad

My biggest issue with The Trouble with Spells was that the characters were rather wooden. Portia doesn’t seem to have any interests, and, in fact, when she is suspended from school for a few days, she is bored because she has nothing to occupy herself with – no books, no television shows, no deep-sea diving. Nothing at all to indicate how she filled her time before she learned she was a witch. And Vance is set up as a stereotypically attractive bad boy with a leather jacket and motorcycle, but he doesn’t have any corresponding behaviors. I kept thinking of him as “Motorcycle Ken.” Pretty much all we know about him is that he loves Portia and that he doesn’t want to end up like his father.

The Romance

I have a friend who says that she only likes to read books where the romance is at least as important as the plot. If you share this philosophy, then I suspect you would enjoy The Trouble with Spells more than I did. I like romance in my books; I have many times said that I am uninterested in reading anything that doesn’t end with everyone getting married and living happily ever after. But at times during this book, I wanted Portia and Vance to stop telling each other how in love they were and get back to saving the world from the forces of evil.

As I was reading, I also found myself wondering who it was that decided that boys secretly following girls around and watching them sleep is romantic. Vance admits that before he met Portia he would follow her around and stand outside her window at night. And three days after they start going out, the pair decide to conduct a ceremony to bind their souls together. Three days. It takes me longer than that to decide if I like a pair of shoes enough to keep wearing them. A boy following me around for a few months and then declaring his eternal love for me? Yeah, that would not be romantic. That would be creepy.

Will I Read More?

I have to say that I most likely will not. There isn’t anything wrong with The Trouble with Spells, really, I just found that it got to be a little boring with the lots-of-romance, very-little-plot. There were times that I wanted to reach into the pages and shake the characters. “Please stop telling each other how in love you are. We have already established that. Remember how your best friend is in terrible danger? I think maybe that should take priority.” The book was good, if you like that kind of thing. I just… don’t.

Also, based on what some of the reviews on Amazon were saying, I suspect that if I read more, I would feel obliged to go on a rant about how fantasy novels need to stop legitimizing domestic violence with over-contextualization. And no one wants that.


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