Once again, I have another terrific title courtesy of the folks over at Book Sparks, who
are putting on the Summer Reading Challenge. Each week, a wonderful book, perfect for summer reading is selected. You can read reviews for the book, or grab your own copy and read along with each week. Head over to Book Sparks, for all the details. This week's book was all about love and magic healing a broken family. A must read!
Here is my review:
The Witch of Belladonna Bay by Suzanne Palmieri
It’s the trouble you aren’t expecting that gets you. And it’s all around you, Bronwyn, it’s all around you like the air.…
Bronwyn "BitsyWyn" Whalen hasn’t set eyes on the red dirt of Magnolia Creek, Alabama, for fourteen years—not since her mama died. But with her brother, Patrick, imprisoned for the murder of her childhood best friend, and her eccentric father, Jackson, at his wits’ end while her eleven-year-old niece, Byrd, runs wild, Bronwyn finds herself once again surrounded by ancient magnolia trees and the troubled family she left behind. She becomes immersed in a whirlwind of mystery and magic as she tries to figure out what really happened that fateful night her friend died. And as her bond with Byrd deepens, Bronwyn must face the demons of her past in order to unravel her family’s uncertain future.In Suzanne Palmieri's thrilling new novel, The Witch of Belladonna Bay, readers will learn if love and magic are enough to bring a broken family back together.Paperback, 368 pagesPublished May 13th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Four stars: A beautifully written, magical story that reminds us we are all flawed, and no matter how far you run, your roots will find you.
Wyn has spent the last fourteen years running far away from the South and from the pain of her life. After Wyn's mother died, she was constantly on the move, until she found Ben. For the past seven years, Wyn has lived comfortably and at peace in the North. She hasn't seen or spoken to her family since the night she left, even though her father sends her money and a letter every month. Everything changes when the phone rings. Jackson, Wyn's dad, calls to tell her she must come home. Her younger brother, Paddy, is in jail for supposedly murdering Wyn's one time best friend. Jackson needs Wyn to come home and sort out the mess and help him take care of Byrd, the niece she has never met. Can Wyn return home?
What I Liked:
- This is my first book by Ms. Palmieri and I don't think it will be my last. I was enchanted by the lovely, true to life writing. This is a character driven book with a bit of magical realism that exposes how we are all flawed, and that we all have the propensity for great love and happiness or evil and sadness. Good and evil do walk hand and hand. A beautifully written story that you should experience for yourself.
- The characters are the heart and soul of this book. Wyn and Byrd will take your hand and pull you into their world. Byrd especially has a voice like no other. At eleven years old, Byrd is wise far beyond her years, precocious, unique and magical. Byrd is unlike anything other character, she is charming and obnoxious, lovable and irritating all in the same package. She has a magical soul which allows her to read minds and see the future. I was drawn to Byrd's unique voice and I loved getting to know her. Wyn, on the other hand, is a lost woman. One who has run far away and tried to forget her past and her roots, but the problem is you can't forget your roots, and they will come calling. Once Wyn returns home, she must confront the pain of the past and let go of her hard feelings toward her family. She must fix things for the brother she promised to always take care of, and once again come face to face with her first love. As Byrd and Wyn come together, they learn to love, forgive and live. It was easy to completely fall in love with these two characters. Alongside, Wyn and Byrd is Naomi, a ghost, and the mother of Wyn. Naomi has been trapped since her death, trying to make amends for the mistakes in her life. She was all kinds of interesting.
- I enjoyed the setting. This is set in a small Alabama town with plenty of mystery, magic and superstition. I liked the lore and legend surrounding Belladonna Island and the stories regarding the mist. I am always charmed by books set in the Deep South and this one was no exception to that rule. How I would love to spend an afternoon nestled beneath Esther the ancient Magnolia tree.
- The murder mystery while strong ends up playing second fiddle to the character driven plot. After getting to know the three women, I did find myself invested in trying to figure out who murdered Charlotte. While this story line seemed more like an after thought, it was suspenseful, and I was puzzled as to who committed the crime until I reached the shocking reveal.
- The ending wraps everything up with no dangling questions or loose ends. The book closes on a happy positive note that will leave you feeling good. I so appreciate a nice solid ending.
And The Not So Much:
- I struggled a bit with the romance. Even though I could see the why and how, I thought it came out of nowhere and I was a bit perplexed by the way it all worked out. The romantic aspect is an afterthought and it is not the focus of the story, so not a big deal.
- I didn't have a complete grasp on the role of the keepers. I didn't understand how they were chosen, and what their task was? Finally, why could Ben leave was his job done?
- The whole thing with Carter was a bit weird too. I didn't quite get the why and how of that whole situation at the end.
The Witch of Belladonna Bay is a beautifully written, character driven novel that explores what it means to come home, face your past, forgive and learn to live and love again. If you enjoy books with gorgeous writing and strong characters with a dash of magic, this is a must read.
I was in awe of the writing!
"Everyone has a dark side. I can see it like a shadow behind them all the time."
"I'd loved him with no safety net."
"We can change anything if we are brave enough to make hard decisions."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.