A Marked Past
Sixteen-year-old Lyla has a pretty sweet life in Chicago: she's got a hot boyfriend, she's made the varsity cheer leading squad, and her folks are pretty damn cool. Then in a split second, a life-changing split second, it all goes bust. Lyla finds herself transplanted to Salem, Mass., in a dumpy farmhouse, with no friends, a past that comes to haunt her.
Let me start with the setting of this book. Salem, which everyone knows is fully of rich history, is a great setting for a witchy book. One of this book's high points is the descriptive details on the setting. It gave the book texture.
Another thing I like about this book is the knowledge of Wicca. At least for me, who was no knowledge of Wicca, I found just the right amount of detail to let me in on the secret without producing the yawn factor.
Of course, the premise and the plot is good. I haven't read many books in this genre, so for me it was fresh and new. The plot had a beginning, middle and end, with no plot holes that I could find.
If I had to describe this book in one word, it would be 'long'. It is best described in two words: too long.
The story needs some serious liposuction. Too much fat. There were scenes that went nowhere; they didn't move the story along. Just like every action must have a reaction, so must every scene. I don't want to read pages of prose, and then wonder why. There were points in the story that were told a number of times (redundant). *Especially* when we're at a suspenseful point in the story! OMG. When our dear Lyla is about to enter a destroyed building and see if the crush of her life is alive or dead...don't spend a couple of pages regurgitating thoughts, feelings, and ideas from earlier in the story. It's not suspenseful; it's distracting.
Speaking of redundancy...the word 'smile' must have been used no less than 200 times. I thought people's faces were going to start cracking.
And here's what I've been dreading to say the most: I liked every character in this book...except the main character. I didn't connect with Lyla at all. Here's the deal. Lyla is selfish, self-centered, manipulative, and, well, no pun intended, but kind of a witch. Okay, if we're going to be realistic here, most of us are tired of the goody-two-shoes, perfect grades, never-do-anything-wrong kind of main characters. Talk about unrealistic. So, yes, I can take a little selfishness from a sixteen-year-old (it is, after all, all about them); I can take a little flaw in my heroine. What I can't take is a selfishly flawed character who doesn't grow. Here's an example. Toward the end of the story, Lyla witnesses a beating. She's hell-bent on saving this person, and when she does, she gets *angry* that the person isn't who she thought she was saving. There was no empathy for the poor sod who just got the hell beat out of his grass (even if at some level he deserved it).
For me, this book needs some serious editing and maybe a beta-reader or two; put on a diet, set on a treadmill, and whipped into shape.