The Coven is an urban fantasy novel by Chrissy Lessy publishing tomorrow (27th June). Tenacious Books and the lovely people at Netgalley were gracious enough to give me an advanced review copy so I could let you know my thoughts before publication. I’ve read a lot of witchy books in my time…how did this one fare?
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.
Where to start with this book? Well let’s kick off with the things I did like. You all know I love a book with more than one woman in it. In this case there are multiple women, which is always a good thing. There was also a nice relationship between Stevie and her mother which is a dynamic that actually I don’t read a lot of (so often mothers are awful people or they are dead).
I also enjoyed the ‘witches in a modern setting’ aspect of this. I think it may have been stretching it a bit when it suggested that loads of people in the town could be witches and people just didn’t know…that felt a little forced and I think that there would surely have been a bit more awareness had their been magic going on.
But those were about the only things I liked about this book if I’m perfectly honest.
A lot of Stevie’s character is built around the fact that she is a single mother of an autistic child. Not a bad character in itself, however I just felt like this was handled in such an ableist way. Throughout the book, Stevie’s focus is on how she can ‘fix’or ‘cure’ her son with a better diet (and by the end of the book maybe with magic). I’m no expert on these things but I have a feeling that those people who actually are autistic might not be so pleased to be portrayed as something to be fixed. I appreciate that may be a real feeling that mother’s of autistic children struggle with but at the same time at no point in the book was this called out. That really put me off Stevie’s character and given that she is the focal point of the plot it sort of ruined the story for me.
Also, let’s talk about Vanessa, who we are set up to believe is evil (at the start, before she has actually done anything evil) because she…wears a tight dress and is a bit promiscuous? Now, have we not learnt yet that wearing a tight dress is not a symbol of morality? One can be evil and also flirt with people but the two are not mutually exclusive. Another thing that just put me off this book entirely. It was a bit like we were pitting the evil, sexy Vanessa against the angelic, divorcee, single mother and we were of course supposed to loathe Vanessa in her tight dress! No thankyou.
So yes, this book didn’t really hit the spot for me for a number of reasons. It felt a bit like one of those books you pick up in a holiday cottage and then leave behind afterwards.
That being said, I am sure there are people who will really enjoy this book. I don’t think I move in the same circles as them. Nor do I think we would get along (I’m just too darned opinionated for some people). If you want a really easy slightly witchy book then this might work for you? But if you do read it see if you can spot the problems I’ve picked out?
My rating: 2/5 stars…not my thing. Just not for me.
By the way, as I said I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What do you think? Am I reading too much into things? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @judithcmoore. Hit that follow button if you want to never miss a post!
Can’t wait to hear from you!