The TV adaptation of the Beauchamp Family series that aired on Lifetime made me want to read Witches of East End, the first book in the series. The show reminded me of Charmed at first but unlike Charmed, certain aspects of it irked me and eventually I lost interest. The series was cancelled after two seasons. I was curious to know if the book varied greatly from its TV adaptation so I gave it a try.
Witches of East End is about Joanna Beauchamp and her daughters, Ingrid and Freya, powerful witches who live ordinary lives in North Hampton, a quiet town on Long Island. Ingrid is a quiet, introverted bookworm who works at the town library, and Freya, the younger of the two, is her opposite: an outgoing, extroverted bartender at the local pub. When the story begins, Freya is engaged to marry Bran Gardiner, a wealthy philanthropist, but when his dark, mysterious brother, Killian, pops up at her engagement party, she feels a strong yearning for him that’s hard to resist.
Though forbidden to practice magic, the Beauchamp women are sorely tempted to when mysterious events begin occurring in their town: a neighbor shows up dead, an odd illness spreads among the towns people, and an odd greyish substance appears in the sea. As the temptation to use magic gets stronger, they must decide if revealing what they are is worth saving their town.
Like the TV show, my interest was sparked at the beginning of the story but dwindled as the story progressed so much so that I almost gave up on it. It’s a quick supernatural romance that one could complete in a day or two, but I took 12 days to complete it because I got distracted by Robin Hobb’s Assassin’s Apprentice.
What drew me in was the town, which is described in the first paragraph of the prologue as a place shrouded in fog, a place found by chance but once lost can never be found again. A magical place. Such a description was an enigma that pulled me in and made me excited to see where the story would go. I also liked how that first paragraph was written. It gave me the same feeling I had when I read the first paragraph of Harry Potter and other stories that have a sort of folksy feel to it (I’m not sure if folksy is the right word here. I have yet to find the word for the feeling I get when I read the first paragraph of those stories).
Unfortunately, after about a quarter or so through the story, I began to get irritated by the characters’ antics and the plot holes. I liked the characters at first because of their personalities. Joanna is sweet and motherly, Freya is a party girl and quite daring, and Ingrid is a bookworm who I could relate to; but they make silly decisions that didn’t make sense to me and that threw me off. An example: They are aware that an evil zombie, possibly demon, dude is on the loose (because of something they did) and admit that it’s imperative that they deal with that problem soon, but instead they do everything except look for the evil zombie, possibly demon, dude and in the end that problem was conveniently solved for them.
As for the plot holes, it really irks me when a character knows what the others did without having spoken to them. The Beauchamp women operate independently of each other for the majority of story, which also irritated me because much could have been avoided if they’d spoken to each other, so there were hardly any scenes where they exchanged information. But, at crucial moments when it’s necessary to know what someone else did, it’s mentioned that a discussion took place “off stage.” I was okay with this when it occurred once or twice, but after a few times I thought it too convenient and a nuisance.
While reading, I kept thinking back to the TV show because I realized it altered much of the story, sometimes for the better (I prefer the sisters being clueless about their magical abilities in the show) and sometimes for the worse (it’s never addressed in the show that Ingrid was technically raped by that weird monster thing. A similar thing occurs in the book but it’s a nightmare and I think Ingrid actually says it’s a rape).
There’s also a huge difference in some of the characters’ personalities, mainly Ingrid. I prefer Ingrid in the book. Ingrid is supposed to be smart and logical and she acts more like that in the book. In the show she is compulsive and seems to ignore all her knowledge as she makes many, MANY mistakes. Even Freya is more cautious than her in the show. Freya is my favorite in both the book and the show and for the most part, she’s consistent in both. As for Joanna, I prefer her in the show. She’s more bad-ass there. But I also like Joanna in the book because she’s sweet and bakes a lot and gosh, I’d just like to visit her house and eat all she bakes. Yum! 😀 As for Joanna’s sister, who appears in the show, she doesn’t make a physical appearance in this installment of the series, but I loved her in the show. She’s awesome too. The guys didn’t stand out to me in the show or the book, but I love the passion between Killian and Freya.
I also had issue with the story’s ending, which I thought was too neat and I found it unbelievable that after all his efforts, the bad guy would obediently follow orders to go away. Maybe he’s just acting as if he’s gone or maybe the Beauchamp women are really that powerful. Either way, too easy.
Overall: ★★☆☆☆ 1/2
It’s not as I’d thought it would be and I didn’t like it. However, those who like a bit of the supernatural in their romance might enjoy it if they don’t mind all the things that annoyed me.
Despite the bad reading experience, I’m glad to have read the book because it answered one of the questions I had about Freya’s lovers. I also like that the story is influenced by mythology but I won’t say which though it’s obvious.
I really wanted to like it. I’m looking for stories similar to the TV show Charmed so if you know of any, let me know.