The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith | Book Review
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Freed after years cursed to live as a frog, Elena seeks out the life she was stolen from. But as she makes the journey home to Château Renard, she’ll discover everything has changed. The vineyard she was to inherit has been sold to a man named Jean-Paul. A man who favors science over magic. But science will not save the vines, for, without magic, they’ve begun to fail. A melancholy has taken over the vines, and nefarious hexes twist among them, preventing their growth. Forced to hide her abilities, Elena works in secret to save the vineyard, but it may be too little too late.
Magic used by the vine witches is subtle and primarily based on modern day witchcraft. And while there will be those who use magic for ill gains, most of what is witnessed in the book is from Elena’s casting. The focus of her magic is on nature, using herbs, incantations, and moon phases. Her magic is a catalyst for relationship building and plot development but is by no means a lesser part of the story. Elena cares deeply for her home, and the emotions she feels towards its success are beautifully written into the spells she casts and the care she takes in helping Jean-Paul restore the vineyard.
There is a vein of old witchcraft superstition woven into the storyline. While the vineyards appreciate their vine witches, there is something nefarious afoot in town. Darker magic is alluded to, and it puts certain authorities on high alert. Distrust is sown within the town, making even vine witches suspect if the wrong person feels threatened. And to be apprehended for evil magic means time spent in the prison designed to house witches. The very prison that once held innocents caught up in the witchcraft trials of old. Where their souls still reside, crying out for their freedom.
Paranormal and fantasy elements combined to create a story of redemption and discovery. Elena has a long road to walk to once again fulfill her potential. And along the way she will have to build trust with Jean-Paul, not just with magic but with herself as well. The relationship building of The Vine Witch was skillfully added into the story, allowing the two characters time to address their feelings and maturely approach them. Elena also has many challenges from her past that will shape the woman she becomes by the end of book one. This was a slower paced, but engaging story. I am looking forward to book two.
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