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
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
‘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.