The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson is the first in a new paranormal romance series focused on a coven of witches living out in California. Amber Benson is of course Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so I had high hopes for a story about witches, but things in The Witches of Echo Park just never really came together for me. It was fortunately a fast read, and had potential, but I ended up feeling that a lot would need to change for me to enjoy this story.
Note: I received an advanced copy of The Witches of Echo Park from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson (The Witches of Echo Park #1)
Published by Ace on Jan. 6th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Paranormal Romance
Page Length: 304 pages
How I got my copy: NetGalley
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Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…
When Elyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her.
Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian estate; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…
- I loved the array of characters in The Witches of Echo Park because there was a lot of diversity. There were young and old coven members, one who had a clear interest in women, a mute girl, and women of color. Even though Lyse is billed as the main character, each of the coven members are the focus for a while, so we got to see into the minds of these diverse women as well instead of just seeing them from the outside.
- The Witches of Echo Park is nothing if not a fast and easy read. I found myself flying through the pages quite easily and able to follow the story no problem. (Unfortunately this is because the writing was fairly simple at times.)
- The magic in The Witches of Echo Park is basically Wicca if Wiccan magic actually worked. It was cool to see how magic could be built around those pre-established rituals and adds a bit of magic to our own world ;-).
- There are two explicit sex scenes and a number of other scenes that involved sexual material and focus. To me all of them ended up awkward and fairly negative and all around uncomfortable. One is a rape, so there is a major trigger warning there. The other is kind of consensual but not 100% which is just really not fun for me to read. I felt like I spent a lot of The Witches of Echo Park reading about sex without being happy about that fact at any time.
- Witches of Echo Park has a major problem in the plot department in that there really isn’t one. The story is kind of that Lyse is figuring out who these witches are and what is going on, but there is very little focus on anything that I could call a directed plot.
- I fear that I might not be exaggerating when I say that The Witches of Echo Park is about 50% info-dumps. There are just pages where things are being explained as soon as the mystery is presented. I want to not know for at least a little while okay?!?
- Another 30% of The Witches of Echo Park is flashbacks without any real purpose. This is where we find out a lot about each of the coven members, but not in a way that answers any questions I had been deeply wondering about. They felt more like character studies honestly.
- There were a lot of small mysteries that could have kept me quite intrigued along with larger mysteries. All of them were ruined as soon as they were presented because they were answered nearly immediately. There was absolutely no suspense!
- The last 20% of The Witches of Echo Park is all the action of the book shoved together to try to present a plot and climax. And when I say shoved, I really mean shoved ungracefully and annoyingly.
- The Witches of Echo Park ended up feeling like urban fantasy/paranormal romance trope bingo where winning was so easy it wasn’t even fun to play. Mysterious cult of bad guys against the nice witches, some impending disaster hinted at but never revealed because that’s the series arc, and a chosen one of great potential that doesn’t realize it.
I had a fair amount of hope for The Witches of Echo Park and really wanted it to live up to that gorgeous cover. However, I can’t really recommend this book to anyone unless you REALLY love witches and character studies and don’t mind a missing plot. Some books are hits and others are misses and this is unfortunately a miss.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.