Black Witch Magic
Black Witch Magic is a paranormal romance that follows a cursed witch unlucky in love, an intrepid paranormal investigator, and a small town haunted by a menace. It has an entertaining premise and a gorgeous cover, but ultimately is a boring read with little to recommend it.
Selene Blackstone is a lunar witch living in a small town called Brimrock, who works at the local library. She’s cursed to be stuck in the town her whole life, and also has terrible luck with dating. Selene has a close friend in fellow witch Noelle, but no close family, and she is the last remaining Blackstone witch. The townspeople antagonize her, as they believe local lore that villainizes Blackstones, witch or not. Selene is pretty much resigned to spending her life in a town that despises her, with few friends and fewer prospects, until she meets Aiden.
Aiden O’Hare is part of a paranormal investigation team for a small TV show in which he plays the role of the skeptic. Aiden doesn’t believe in ghosts, vampires, or witches. He comes with his work partner to visit Brimrock for Christmas, determined to unlock the mysteries of the Blackstone legend for their viewers, and debunk the myth. But when he meets Selene, sparks fly and both of them have to decide where their loyalties lie.
I loved the premise of this book: witches, curses, romance, small towns, it’s got great bones. The cover is also beautiful, hinting at a spooky romance. However, everything pretty much goes downhill from there. The writing is not great, and there is way too much exposition, not just at the beginning of the book, but throughout the whole story. None of the characters are well-defined; they all just seem to be written around the plot. There are also way too many characters for the reader to reasonably keep straight without clear characterization, and Selene and Aiden just feel like caricatures of awkward millennials rather than actual people. I really wanted to enjoy this book because the premise seemed so fun and engaging, but I was just so incredibly bored throughout. It is legitimately a chore to read.
One of the biggest issues with the book is that it is far too long for the plot. The conflict is minimal and so poorly established that the story drags for the vast majority of it, and it’s so thin that even Selene expresses disbelief at one point! The end is supposed to feel triumphant and exciting, but it really doesn’t. There are also moments that felt tacitly anti-Semetic, like the fact that most of the townspeople who hate Selene have Jewish-sounding last names. Not to say that Jewish characters can never be villainous, but Selene’s boss Miriam is a control freak who is out to get Selene, constantly overworking her, and sabotaging her. Obviously, it’s impossible to know if that was intended by the author, but she does come across as the stereotype of the puppet-master and overbearing middle-aged Jewish woman. Almost everyone who is prejudiced against Selene is white, but the racial aspect of the town’s hatred for her is never really explored.
There is one other huge problem with the book, which is a serious issue because it’s supposed to be the first in a series: the world-building is pretty much non-existent. A good fantasy or science fiction book does need a certain amount of scene-setting so that the reader understands the world. This could have easily been inserted into the story, as one of the characters knows nothing about the world of the supernatural, and an explanation would not have felt clunky or too expository. Obviously, a first book doesn’t cover everything, but a lot of the fun of reading a new paranormal series is figuring out the rules of the universe and how magic functions. This book basically ignores those mechanics and gives lackluster, half-assed explanations.
While Black Witch Magic initially looks exciting, it’s not worth the effort. It is only saved from an F because I laughed a couple of times while reading.