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The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson eARC {2 Stars}

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.

This book has adult content.
The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson eARC {2 Stars}

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
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
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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…

2 Stars

Strengths:

  • 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 ;-).

Weaknesses:

  • 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.

Summary:

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.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson

© 2015, Anya. All rights reserved.

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Comments

  1. Ugh so disappointing. I’ve not read it yet and my desire to do so grows smaller with every review I see (they’re pretty much all negative). Too bad, since I love Amber Benson as an actress.

  2. I couldn’t read the book because of the rape scene. I really like that cover though.

  3. I pretty much agree with all your points there. The sex didn’t bother me as much but by that point I think I’d lumped this into more pnr without a real romance. It was just so, ehh all over. Now I need a good witch book…where is my Alyxandra Harvey
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: The Oversight by Charlie FletcherMy Profile

  4. I was really excited to read this because I was such a huge Buffy fan, but I haven’t seen any positive reviews for it. :-( SO sad!
    Nicole Hewitt recently posted…Sunday Post & Giveaways Galore – 1/11/15My Profile

  5. I keep seeing this be a meh read for everyone
    Jen recently posted…What’s New Pussycat?My Profile

  6. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you write a review with so many negative points on it before! So disappointing.. I wanted to read this book, but all the reviews I’ve seen of it have been meh at best.

    Hopefully your next read will be better!!! :D
    Miriam @ Inky Realms recently posted…Tough Travelling: Snarky SidekicksMy Profile

    • Haha, I can only think of one other two stars review at this point ;-). I must admit I was pretty annoyed with the time I spent on this one hoping it would improve!

  7. This is disappointing. I was already planning on passing on it but this cements it for me. Hopefully Amber Benson continues writing though as it does sound like this book had a lot of potential

  8. It’s always frustrating when you can tell a book has heaps of potential but has just been executed badly :/ Especially when it starts using all the tropes and doesn’t have a plot. Sometimes I can overlook that if it has good writing and character development but from the sounds of things this didn’t.

    Hope you next read was better!
    Bec @ Readers in Wonderland recently posted…Review: Of Scars and Stardust – Andrea HannahMy Profile

    • Exactly! These characters could have been so cool and while the big bad was a bit over the top, it could have still been a fun series, sigh.

  9. This book was sooooooo slow. At least the beginning. I think it took me days just to read those hundred pages. I agree with a lot of things in this review, but I thought it deserved more than 2 stars just because of the way things pulled together by the end.
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…YA Weekend: Shutter by Courtney AlamedaMy Profile

    • My rating is always a reflection of my own reaction to the experience and the ending just didn’t pull things together for me :(

  10. Your overall experience with the narrative sounds like similarly to something I recently read! Such a bummer, I cannot help why this happens though, you know what I mean? Going overboard with the adult content, when the premise is so promising; sorry it didn’t live up to your expectations :/
    Claudia {Sparrowhawk} recently posted…Sparrow’s Reading Corner: {It’s About The Friday Book Memes | Volume No. 32}My Profile

  11. I’ve read several reviews now where the reviewer was disappointed in the book. Based on what you said, I think I may skip this one. It did sound intriguing in the blurb, but oh well.
    Bea @Bea’s Book Nook recently posted…Bea Reviews The Hexed by Heather GrahamMy Profile

  12. I’ve read more reviews complaining about the lack of plot and direction in general of this book. It sounds like it had an intriguing concept – a coven of witches – but tried to do too much with it. I usually love books with witches, but I think this one isn’t for me either
    Celine recently posted…Review: The Courage of Cat Campbell by Natasha LoweMy Profile

    • Yeah, it seems like there was a good kernel that it started with but just didn’t get built up like it needed :-/

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