Friday, December 28, 2012

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft offers entertainment for teens

I’m not a snob when it comes to fiction.

What does that mean?

Essentially, I’ll read just about anything – and I do mean anything. That includes young adult fiction, like ‘Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft.’

Jody Gehrman’s book is an interesting mix of genres. It’s kind of like ABC Family meets ‘Charmed.’
In a nutshell, 17-year-old Audrey spends a tense day in high school because she somehow knows that her mother is in some sort of danger. How does she know? She senses it.

When she returns home, she finds her mother is gone and a heretofore-unknown “cousin” named Sadie has come to live with Audrey and her sister. She’s also brought a rather odd menagerie of animals for her stay.

In short order, Audrey meets the love of her life, fights with her sister and discovers she’s a witch. And you thought you had a busy week.

‘Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft’ is definitely well written. There aren’t a lot of typos here. And, let’s face it, when dealing with indie fiction typos tend to be a problem.

The central story is well thought out and generally sound – but it’s not perfect.

My biggest complaint about young adult fiction is the way that teenage girls are fed this line about meeting their soul mate and falling in love in about five minutes flat. ‘Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft’ follows that path – almost literally.

Audrey is a well-developed character – but the people surrounding her aren’t defined as well as I would like them.

Audrey’s sister, Meg, is painted as the object of Audrey’s jealousy and the source of her low self-esteem. Gehrman does a pretty good job of showing the dichotomy of Meg – a typical teenager girl obsessed with her band and boys. Still, Meg is often flat – and I’d like to see her gain a few more personality traits.

The mysterious Sadie is probably my biggest problem in the book. She’s given an important back-story, but she’s so bland that it’s hard to get a feel for her. This is obviously going to be a series, so I hope Sadie is fleshed out in future books.

The central romance, between Audrey and Julian is typical of young adult books. In essence, it’s not really believable.

Since this is going to be a series, I would have preferred Audrey and Julian spend a little time getting to know each other before being declared soul mates. I can’t figure out why Julian would possibly still hang around Audrey when she continues to lie to him.

The central mystery is interesting. Gehrman does try to invent her own witchy lexicon – inventing weird words that are sometimes jarring – but I applaud her for trying.

I still feel the back-story with the mother is lacking – but I’m also hopeful that it’s going to be explored in the next book. You don’t want to reveal everything in the first book of a series.

I think ‘Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft’ has one great strength, though: Portraying teenage girls.

When you’re writing young adult fiction, you want to create characters and scenarios that are accessible to young girls. You want them to be able to relate.

Gehrman does just that when she is dealing with Audrey and her best friend Bridget – and the way they see themselves in their small world.

Audrey has terrible self-esteem – which stems mostly from feeling like she’s always in the shadow of her younger sister.

Slowly, Audrey begins to realize that she has something to offer that Meg doesn’t – and it makes her strong. Audrey’s reaction to Meg not being special is a real feeling. That is how most teenagers would feel – and that is why ‘Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft’ ultimately works.

So, to sum up, ‘Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft’ – available for $2.99 -- is definitely worth a read. It’s a great start to a new series.


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