Sunday, March 20, 2011
Cassie Blake is devastated when her summer vacation in Massachusetts is made permanent when her mother insists they have to move in with her grandmother in small town New Salem. But her disappointment soon gives way to shock when she encounters The Club at school--the elite clique that even the teachers submit to. But the biggest shock isn't that they're witches, it's that Cassie is actually one of them. Soon she is locked in an internal struggle between those who use their powers for good and for evil, and she soon discovers that the decision is not as easy as it seems. When a centuries-old evil starts to infiltrate their coven and tries to bring them all under its control, Cassie finds herself with choices to make, and one wrong step could spell doom to all.
I was going to review these one volume at a time (the "trilogy" is currently packaged into two volumes), but I could not put them down! L.J. Smith does some fantastic world building and the story ensnared me. The tension between the major characters is fantastic-- it's very refreshing to read a series where a coven isn't held together by "perfect love and perfect trust", but is held together mainly by heritage. This leads to a lot of power plays and emotional mainipulation, which is so relatable and a large part of why I couldn't stop reading-- I had to make sure my favorite characters were going to be alright!
My favorite part of the series, though, was the love triad of Cassie, Diana, and Adam. I say "triad" instead of "triangle" because despite the competing romantic interests of the three, they remain a cohesive unit bound by love and friendship between all of them. (I almost get the sense that Smith wanted to set-up a three-way, polyamorous relationship, but wasn't allowed to or didn't think she could get away with it.) It is a much healthier take on a dynamic that flourishes in YA lit these days. It's also just far more interesting and heart-wrenching to see three people who love and respect each other deal with this issue, instead of the typical tug-of-war of one person between two people who hate each other.
Of course, the witchy aspect is what we're here for, and Smith pulls it off brilliantly! She sets up a complex internal mythology that has endless potential for expansion (which I expect to see on the TV show!) And even though they originally came out almost 20 years ago, this series holds up remarkably well (only the characters' birthdates really threw me). The writing can be a little melodramatic at times, but it did its job of roping me in! Pick it up!