The three Beauchamp women--Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid--live in North Hampton, out on the tip of Long Island. Their beautiful, mist-shrouded town seems almost stuck in time, and all three women lead seemingly quiet, uneventful existences. But they are harboring a mighty secret--they are powerful witches banned from using their magic. Joanna can resurrect people from the dead and heal the most serious of injuries. Ingrid, her bookish daughter, has the ability to predict the future and weave knots that can solve anything from infertility to infidelity. And finally, there's Freya, the wild child, who has a charm or a potion that can cure most any heartache.
For centuries, all three women have been forced to suppress their abilities. But then Freya, who is about to get married to the wealthy and mysterious Bran Gardiner, finds that her increasingly complicated romantic life makes it more difficult than ever to hide her secret. Soon Ingrid and Joanna confront similar dilemmas, and the Beauchamp women realize they can no longer conceal their true selves. They unearth their wands from the attic, dust off their broomsticks, and begin casting spells on the townspeople. It all seems like a bit of good-natured, innocent magic, but then mysterious, violent attacks begin to plague the town. When a young girl disappears over the Fourth of July weekend, they realize it's time to uncover who and what dark forces are working against them.
Witches of East End, by Melissa de la Cruz, is a quick, fun romp through a fantasy world that seems real enough to exist. Kirkus reviews quotes it as being "fantasy for well-read adults" and this seems to fit the bill rather perfectly. De la Cruz doesn't talk down to her readers, but instead envelopes them in a world filled with wit, romance, and mystery.
I loved the references to classic texts and mythologies. It gave the novel a more filled-out feeling, which it would have been lacking otherwise due to its rather short length - less than 300 pages. However, the brevity of the story didn't seem to matter as the characters were well-developed and the plot was engrossing enough to keep me turning the pages well into the night.
Witches of East End begins de la Cruz's Beauchamp Family series, and it's a strong start. However, if you are sick of the amount of series out there and just want a stand-alone book, you could simply read the novel and omit the epilogue. The story is great as a stand-alone, and I was happy to leave it at that. However, after reading the epilogue, de la Cruz got me hooked and begging to know what would happen in the next installment. You can bet I'll be reading book two.
4 out of 5 stars.