Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson

January 4, 2015 2.5 stars, Book Review 20 ★★½

Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber BensonThe Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
Series: The Witches of Echo Park #1
Published by Ace on January 6, 2015
Genres: Adult SFF, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.

Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…

When Elyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her.

Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian estate; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…

two-half-stars

Like a 300 page prologue

The Witches of Echo Park sets up an interesting story of a coven of witches and this “Flood” (aka some bad juju) that is coming and likely to destroy them and from the sounds of it all other witches as well. But thats it, that’s all that this book is – one big setup for the story that is likely to come in future books.

Where are we really going with this?

Nowhere really fast I say. Because this book is told from the alternating perspective of every single woman in this Echo Park coven. I kid you not the perspectives of 6 different women! so many perspectives wouldn’t bother you – you say? Well, I’m not opposed to reading from many different perspectives either, heck I’m a fan of epic fantasy which usually throws this many or more perspectives at me and is generally expected to be normal. But for a 300 page urban fantasy novel that model did not quite work for me here. But why, Tabitha, why didn’t it work for you? Because there just wasn’t enough going on, or better put the plot wasn’t going anywhere.

The ladies you’ll meet

Eleanora – head of the coven, Lyse’s great aunt and also dying of cancer. She sees dead people

Lyse – Niece to Eleanora and soon to be newest member of the coven, likely a herbalist.

Devandra – Reader of the cards, all around sweet and loving mother of 2.

Arrabelle – Herbalist, a might testy and somewhat muscle in the coven.

Daniela – Empath and still a newbie member to the coven. Mother is one of the recently deceased Dream Walkers.

Lizbeth – 17 year old apprentice to Arrabelle and a mute. She is sweet and gets the least amount of POV chapters (2 total I think)

The visions, The Flashbacks, but where’s the meat?

There are a whole lot of flashbacks and that’s how a lot of the background info is delivered about Eleanora. Indeed if I remember right I think all of the flashbacks are pretty much hers. For those that are sensitive to rape triggers in your reading be warned one of the scenes in this book could upset you. There are also some spectral visits, dreams and a strong bow chicka bow wow vision. I personally have a love hate relationship with flashback sequences. If used right they can be fabulous, if used too heavily they can really bog down a book. Here I could see the necessity for some of the flashbacks. One of the dream sequences for the most part just really didn’t seem to add anything for me and I think confuses the type of power that person is theorized to have. Much of it felt loosey goosey and seemed to me that it could have used some tightening up and a firmer direction.

Could have used some trimming of the edges…

Overall for taking place over the course of a few days, I think this book would have served better if it were shortenedd down by half and perhaps combined with whatever second book might be coming out next. That way more forward momentum could have been made in what looks like is going to be a few of the main plots in the series story arc. Which are – “The Flood” that is coming, and the protecting of this last Dream Walker. Unfortunately the bulk of any plot movement takes place in the last 50 pages of the book. Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of things throughout the book that all tie in at the end and you’ll have those moments of “oh so that’s why that was included” while at the time you’re reading it you’re just wandering why you’re being given all of this superfluous information. I did appreciate the writing and thought even though all of it felt like setup it was well written setup but lacked the punches in places to make it anything BUT that. There wasn’t enough solid plot for me to wrap all of that setup around. With how it ended I am vaguely curious as to how things will go but not enough so to continue reading the series.

I recently found out the author narrated the audibook version herself. You can check out the sample clip from Audible below.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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20 Responses to “Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson”

  1. Anya

    Loosey goosey is the perfect way to describe this! It seriously felt like ideas and random snippets were just kind of thrown together D: I loved Lizbeth and her PoV chapters though, so interesting inside her head, haha.
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  2. Danya @ Fine Print

    Bad Juju, the inciting incident for 100% of UF novels (not that I’m complaining!). Everyone seems to have been pretty disappointed with this book, which sucks because I was hoping it would be a winner. 🙁 Oh well, maybe I’ll read the series if book 2 gets better reviews. Until then, I ain’t got time for UF that gets less than 3 stars.
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    • Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

      I know this is a terrible thing to say but I think the only folks that read and rate a second book after the first was so generally disliked by everyone else are a bit biased because they obviously liked the first well enough to continue…don’t you think? Do then it would of course end yup with a higher star average. Lol really the only way to tell is if you just give the first one a try on your own 😛 You could always snatch it from the library if you’re really that interested lol. I know whenever I say oh maybe folks will like the next one better I don’t ever really plan on reading it anyway! lol
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