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BookRatMisty

BookRatMisty

Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft (Volume 1)

Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft - Jody Gehrman Coming on the heels of Babe in Boyland, I have to say, I was sadly disappointed. There were a number of reasons, but I think the biggest reason was voice. Natalie from Boyland had such a strong, distinctive, engaging voice - her personality was completely there. Audrey... Audrey is often closer to a stock character. There were moments when her humor and personality would come through more strongly, and I would feel what the book could be, but most of the time, I felt like you could easily swap her with another character from any quickly churned-out paranormal fantasy and not notice too much of a difference. She was never completely cardboard (not a lost cause by any means), but compared to the vibrant Natalie, and knowing what Gehrman is capable of, I was always waiting for that injection of personality, and it made me a little sad (and made the book harder to get into) when it didn't come.Basically, the book felt a little unfinished to me. It felt...hmm, it felt like I was reading an earlier version, before things were tightened up and streamlined.  It's never a good thing when I feel myself wanting to redline things, but I did have that urge. The dialogue needed tightening, the magic needed more of a foundation, and the whole book needed another "pass" - another round of tweaking and perfecting.  The magic especially just felt too easy, too Bewitched-wink-and-nod-and-POOF! = magic, y'all. That never works for me, especially when it's combined with the suddenly-I'm-magic trope. I require balance in all things - if there are great advantages, there need to be great drawbacks. And if there are not, if this is just the way your magic works, I need to know more of the Why. I need to believe it, because if I don't buy that, how can I buy anything that happens as a result?I felt the plot needed some tightening, too. Sometimes it seemed to move too quickly and drop the connections that were needed to build tension, and sometimes it seemed to be stuck in limbo, leaving me wanting to just push through already. It's tricky to review, actually, because there were plenty of times when it flowed along and did what it was supposed to do, pulling me along with it. But there were enough patches that left me frustrated and wanting to fix, that they marred my overall impression.And though I don't want to go into spoiler territory, I do want to address the pitfalls of having a suddenly very powerful main character and a sort of nebulous Big Bad. Audrey accepts everything way too easily, especially for as smart of a character as she is. If someone shows up at your house (with a boa constrictor wrapped around her neck) and says your mom has been kidnapped because she's magic(k), and then all manner of weird things begin happening and hey, wouldn't you know it, you're magic(k), too, and a maybe rare, powerful, uber-magick, then please, start to question everything. Because if you (the character) do not, your reader will, and they will be put off by the fact that you didn't.  You don't just accept things like that, even in the face of flying shit and proofproofproof, because that's a HUGE paradigm shift, and you are required by law (or something) to question whether someone is playing a really elaborate prank on you, or you've lost your damn mind.  You just have to, at least for form's sake, before giving in and saying, okay, guess I'm magic(k)!  (And same with the Big Bad - I need to buy it, buy who he is and why he's so Eeeevilll! or he'll end up coming off cheesy. This particular Big Bad just walked that line. I didn't fully buy who he was or why he does some of the things he does, though I'm sure that will be explained more in future books. But he did give me the creeps, so that gets him villain points.)But all this is not to say it's not a worthwhile read, and maybe I should have opened with that before unleashing all of my grievances. But I never seem able to do that because I have to get it out, so...there you go. I think if I'd read this when I was younger, many of the things that bothered me may not have. (And maybe if I hadn't read this just after reading Babe in Boyland, which I really enjoyed, things may not have bothered me as much as they did in comparison.) I do like Audrey, even if she's not quite as "real" as Natalie. There's good tension and romance, even if I did wish for more depth in both. It's very quick, and Gehrman's storytelling is engaging, and I think there are those who will connect with Audrey and love her, and ignore or forgive the story's flaws as a result. But I can't help but wish for something more memorable, knowing Gehrman is capable of it. Still, I'd recommend it for a quick Halloween read without much hesitation - but whether I'll read more of the series is up for debate.