Friday, September 20, 2013

INDIE BOOK REVIEW: 'Easy Bake Coven' is a great book -- with a misleading title



When you read a book called ‘Easy Bake Coven,’ I think it’s fair to say images of a cozy paranormal mystery come to mind.

In this particular case, though, you would be wrong.

‘Easy Bake Coven,’ by Liz Schulte, is not a cozy paranormal mystery. That’s not a bad thing – but it does throw the reader off.

The truth is, the coven in this story is so secondary it begs the question: Why did the author name the book this?

Granted, it’s a cute name. It doesn’t match this book at all, though.

‘Easy Bake Coven’ is actually a fantasy story filled with a lot of magic, a little bit of elvish swashbuckling and a miniscule (almost nonexistent) iota of witchcraft.

You can see my predicament.

The central story revolves around Selene Warren, a yoga instructor that owns her own shop and hangs around with her “coven” of witches on a daily basis. She has a boring boyfriend and a fairly lackluster – but happy – life.

Then, one day, a strange and handsome man (aren’t they always handsome?) named Cheney shows up and seems to insist that he knows Selene. Come to find out, he does know her – he just hasn’t seen her in decades.

You see, Selene is not who she pretends to be. She’s not a human. She’s a former half-elf that became a changling more than 25 years ago -- and she may be tied up with the half-elf rebellion.

In quick succession, Selene’s life is in danger and she and Cheney go on the run together. You can pretty much guess what happens after that.

I really like the central story of ‘Easy Bake Coven’ – but I almost didn’t finish reading the book. That
would have really been a shame. Why did I almost stop reading? The elf twist felt so out of place with the title of the book I was genuinely thrown for a loop and considered deleting it from my Kindle the minute the elf twist was revealed.

I like cutesy titles. ‘Easy Bake Coven’ is an outstanding title – just not for the genre of book that Schulte wrote. When you combine that with the cover, though, the whole thing just kind of messed me up.

I obviously liked the story enough to buy the second book – ‘Hungry, Hungry Hoodoo’ – but, I’m going to be honest, that title is even more off-base than ‘Easy Bake Coven.’ I get where Schulte is trying to go with this, and I am going to read ‘Pickup Styx’ (the upcoming third book) but I’m really dreading future books in the series because of their titles alone. Visions of ‘Cabbage Patch Karma,’ ‘Rubik’s Curse’ and ‘Jiggsaw Potion’ are already haunting me.

These really are wonderful books – with a strong narrative voice. Schulte paints a warm picture of both Selene and Cheney and she leaves room for character development of the coven members and other secondary characters in future books. Seriously, the books are solid. My only complaint is the misleading titles.

This is an indie, so there are a handful of typos and punctuation errors in both books, but they’re not enough to turn off readers. If you’re the grammar police, this book isn’t for you. On the flip side, this is a lot cleaner than most of the indies I’ve read.

In the end, Schulte has painted a magnificent and richly drawn world. She just flubbed on the titles.

‘Easy Bake Coven’ is available for free on Kindle. ‘Hungry, Hungry Hoodoo’ is available for $3.99.

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