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review 2017-07-29 04:47
An entertaining, yet tame, fantasy novel
The Coven - Chrissy Lessey

This book takes place in a small North Carolina town where descendants of some colonial witches still live and practice their craft. For obvious reasons, they are a secret group, but highly self-regulated. Typically, the abilities travel along family lines and crop up in childhood/adolescence, at which point, the witch/warlock is initiated into the Coven and introduced to their history and practice.

 

Stevie is a newly-divorced mom of a young Autistic boy, still struggling to adjust to life without her husband and trying to make an emotional connection with her son, who she's trying everything to help. She's about to learn about her unique heritage, in a way that no one would want to.

 

There's a dark witch who has just returned to town to settle some scores. Her actions will kick off many changes to the coven, as well as the populace of the town. Her return and the advent of Stevie's ability will prove a pivotal moment in the history of this group.

There's a rich -- and frequently delightful -- cast of supporting characters here. Lessey writes them well and with care. I enjoyed them all, frequently grinning at the way a couple of them behave.

 

I can't testify to the accuracy of the depiction of autism -- but it felt real, it felt like the fruit of good research (or first-hand knowledge), sympathetic without pandering; realistic, yet open to the possibilities of a Fantasy novel. Stevie's relationship with Charlie, her son, was easily the best part of this book.

 

The stakes were high, but it there was never a feeling of actual peril, of risk, of there being a chance that things could go really bad. Still, there was plenty of heart and enough likeable characters to keep the reader engaged. A quick read that kept the plot moving at a decent pace. <b>The Coven</b> is the Urban Fantasy equivalent of a cozy -- low risk, decent reward. I'm willing to bet Lessey grows and develops as a writer over the trilogy, and is probably worth keeping an eye on.

 

<i><b>Disclaimer:</b> I received this book from the author in exchange for honest opinion, which I appreciate.</i>

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text 2017-07-25 15:32
REVIEW BY AMY - The Coven (The Crystal Coast Series #1) by Chrissy Lessey
The Coven - Chrissy Lessey

The future queen awakens… 

Newly single mother Stevie Lewis divides her time between raising Charlie, running a store with her best friend, and avoiding the meetings of her mother’s Beaufort Historic Society. Although her life has its challenges, it’s altogether average. Just the way she likes it.

When Vanessa, a ruthless dark witch, launches an attack against young Charlie, Stevie’s simple life derails, and her long-dormant powers awaken. A 300-year-old secret is exposed, revealing her destiny to one day rule the clandestine community of witches who hide in plain sight.

Now she must master her own magical powers before it’s too late. Because Vanessa’s on the warpath, and only Stevie can stop her.

 

+Chrissy Lessey, +Xpresso Reads, @Mommy_Amers, #Fantasy, #Romance, 3 out of 5 (good)

 

Source: sites.google.com/site/archaeolibrarian/amy/thecoventhecrystalcoastseries1bychrissylessey
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review 2017-06-13 02:26
An unpredictable and daring conclusion to the trilogy
The End of Magic (An Echo Park Coven Novel) - Amber Benson

I don't know how to talk about this book without discussing the series as a whole or getting into plot details that no one wants me to, really. But I'll try.

 

<b>The Last Dream Keeper</b> left things in a very dark place -- even for the middle installment in a trilogy. So it was with a little trepidation that I started this -- just how much darker were things going to get? Thankfully, not much. Which is not to say that the book took on a euphoric or optimistic feel, but there were glimmers of hope within the darkness. Some small moments of victory in the face of loss before the main action of this particular novel took off.

 

The Flood is gaining momentum -- the anti-magic movement is getting governments around the world to turn on witches, to start interring them (at best). While running for their lives and liberty, someone they have to unite to take a final stand. Lyse MacAllister, herself still new to magic, takes up the challenge to lead her sisters against the Flood.

 

When talking about book 2, I said: "And when I say that the plot takes this book in dramatically different directions than you expect, it is almost impossible to believe that the closing pages of this book and the closing pages of <b>The Witches of Echo Park</b> belong to the same series -- much less are separated by only one novel. Somehow, however, Benson pulls it off -- I really have no idea how. When I think about it, it doesn't make any sense -- but in the moment, it absolutely worked." That's even truer for the difference between Book 1 and 3. It's impossible to guess your way through this plot -- but it's all real, it all flows organically.

 

I (and many others, I realize, I don't claim to be original) have often said it's all about execution. There are plots that when described, I'd say I wouldn't like that I have -- and vice versa. If you gave me either the series outline or the book outline -- I'd have said, "Nope, not for me." But Benson pulls it off in a way that I: 1. enjoyed reading and 2. appreciate. I don't know how to talk about the plot anymore than that.

 

These characters all seemed real -- all of them (even the pair that really didn't exist in our world) felt like people you could go meet in real life. Well, maybe not the people in The Flood, let's be honest. But everyone else absolutely did. Which is a real strength in a book that got as outlandish as this one.

 

I've read all of Benson's books (at least her solo books) now -- and it's great to see her develop into the writer of this book. Nothing against <b>Death's Daughter</b> or the rest of that series, but the depth of character and craft in this series is beyond that. Yeah, I maybe didn't like everything she did with these characters or the books, but I liked the way she went about it.

 

I'm throwing in the towel here, I just don't know how to talk about this book -- strong characters (in every sense of the phrase), honest emotions, a bananas plot, and an ending you won't see coming until it's too late jump out of the way. Heroism, (not just romantic) love, magic, family -- this series has it all. Give it a try.

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review 2017-01-07 04:04
The Girl From The Blood Coven
The Girl from the Blood Coven - Brian Moreland

A prequel to The Witching House, this story also sort of works as a standalone.
Abigail walks into the local bar covered in blood and claiming her entire commune family have been slaughtered. Sheriff Travis Keagan goes out to investigate and wishes he hadn't.
Nicely paced read with engaging characters and a disturbingly gory storyline. It is the perfect prelude to The Witching House and has me eager to get to the novel.

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review 2016-11-30 02:59
Magical Realism that takes a completely bananas turn
The Last Dream Keeper: An Echo Park Coven Novel - Amber Benson Picking up right from where The Witches of Echo Park left off, Benson takes her coven deeper into the conflict with the mysterious forces threatening the Witches Council. The opening chapters of this book had me hooked soundly and almost immediately brought me right back to where I was when the first book ended. You want Lyse and the rest to really gel, to become the family they could be (and might have been before Eleanora's death). Sure, you want them to get to the bottom of things, thwart evil and all that -- but mostly you want to see them form a strong unit, maybe have a taste of happiness. But circumstances won't let that happen. Somewhere around the midway point (I think maybe a little beofre) the book takes a huge turn -- the coven splits up. Some on personal missions, others off on an effort to enlist others to their cause, and some to keep things going at home. This was a risky move -- these books are at their strongest when you have these women interacting with each other, drawing on each other's strengths, augmenting their own weaknesses. So to eliminate this possibility takes real guts -- I'm not sure I liked the move, but what Benson does with that kicks everything into a different gear -- more action-packed and explosive. The magic that so defined the series up to this point is still there, it's just used pretty differently. And when I say that the plot takes this book in dramatically different directions than you expect, it is almost impossible to believe that the closing pages of this book and the closing pages of The Witches of Echo Park belong to the same series -- much less are separated by only one novel. Somehow, however, Benson pulls it off -- I really have no idea how. When I think about it, it doesn't make any sense -- but in the moment, it absolutely worked. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, and when it was done I started looking forward to whatever craziness Benson's got in store for us.
Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2016/11/29/the-last-dream-keeper-by-amber-benson
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