Witches of East End

Witches of East End, by Melissa de la Cruz

It's September, which means I get to start thinking about Halloween. Right? Isn't that how it works? I love Halloween, and the love has become even greater since moving to Switzerland, as they don't celebrate it here, so it makes carving jack'o'lanterns and dressing up the house all spooky that much more fun. The neighbours think I'm crazy.

I think readers all have their favourite brand of supernatural books, and I am no exception: I love all witchy books. I grabbed Witches of East End because even though I didn't love the TV show based on this one, I figured the book is always better than the show, right? I was not disappointed. There was so much to love about this book, for me especially the mythology upon which it's based.

The three Beauchamp women, Joanna, Ingrid and Freya, are all fantastic characters, strong and loving in their own way. The best part was as they began to display their magical abilities; I love that each of them had a different talent. Freya with her love potions, Ingrid with her healing and fertility talismans, Joanna with her control over death. In a way they encapsulate the three aspects of femininity: maiden, mother, crone, although their personalities don't necessarily reflect this.

They live in the lovely sleepy village of North Hampton, one of those seaside places that I swear I would love to live in, where everyone knows everyone else. Freya works at the local dive, Ingrid at the local library, and Joanna putters around their house baking cakes. It seems idyllic, and yet each of them strains under the restriction they live under: no magic. They haven't practiced any magic in their immortal lives since Freya and Ingrid were hung at the Salem witch trials. Oh yes, the Beauchamps are immortal, and every time the daughters are killed throughout history, they are reborn by Joanna and grow up to their respective ages they tend to stay at (Freya late-teens to early twenties, Ingrid late-twenties to early-thirties).

The magical itch becomes unbearable and each of the Beauchamps makes the choice to begin practicing again, beginning with just something small, but soon the entire town in implicated in their magic. Freya begins to whip up some love potions to help soothe some couples, and her concoctions really start to take off, making her bar the local scene in town. But all the lust and passion she stirs up begins to have nasty side effects. Ingrid helps a friend get pregnant, and soon every man and woman in town comes to her seeking help with mysterious ailments she can't explain, and can only be undone by magic. And Joanna falls hopelessly in love with the little boy of the family who comes to live at their estate, and treats him like the grandson she never had. For him, she's willing to break out the wands.

They are content practicing magic has no immediate consequences. Or so they think. Evil starts to spread through North Hampton, and soon each of the women is involved in heartache or mystery. Freya is caught between loving two brothers, with no ability to choose between them. Ingrid is wrapped up in the mysterious runes that appear on the estate of the founding family of the village, and Joanna must confront her worst fear and the weakness in her magic: that she is able to heal anyone, except for those she loves the most.

Witches of East End has all of my favourite parts of witch legends, while adding in a very cool origin story for witches and warlocks - it had me getting out my Norse Mythology book by Neil Gaiman to consult. This book was fun and magical, perfect light read to get you into the autumnal spirits!