First Lines: Breaking into a dead woman’s house was easy work since she rarely complained. Breaking into a dead witch’s house was a different matter altogether.
I grabbed this from the library for two reasons: 1) it’s winter and with the snowflakes on the cover, I thought there might be a winter bend to this story and 2) I really like the humor Harvey usually includes in her writing. Plus, life just needs a little magic every now and then, doesn’t it?
It’s 1814 and three cousins–Gretchen, Emma, and Penelope–are attempting to survive their season…until things get much, much worse. Suddenly, the girls learn they come from a long line of witches once a binding spell breaks. And by claiming their powers, they may have just opened up the gates to the Underworld. Terrifying creatures are now after the girls, the worst of which being the Greymalkin Sisters–the spirits of three dark witches. The Greymalkin Sisters are murdering debutante witches for their power…and Emma keeps finding the bodies. Can the cousins seal the gates before another witch is killed?
I loved the fusion of a historical fiction and a paranormal story. I’m a sucker for them, really. Can I really go wrong with debutante balls, English gentlemen who look dashing in their evening wear, and ghastly ghosts who are intent on murdering people? I think not.
I will give credit for the magical world Harvey creates in the Goblin market. I wish we’d seen more of it and the strange people there. It would’ve been a great way to get to know the magical world more. The debutante world was great and all, but I just wanted more of the strange world she created.
Most of the time, i liked the main characters. Emma is stubborn and persistent enough to try to unravel the mysteries around her. Gretchen is a mother’s worst nightmare in 1814, refusing to do anything girly. I loved her spunk. Penelope was just a sweet little thing. But it was really the minor characters who caught my attention. Moira, One-Eyed Jim, Cedric. I wanted to see more of them.
I liked the mystery of the story and how it unfolded. It was interesting and intriguing. I did figure out who the “bad guy” was, but only a chapter or two before it was revealed, so it had me stumped for a long time.
The one problem I had was that it didn’t feel like the story needed to be nearly 500 pages. Parts of the story dragged on, bogged down by details and characters that I didn’t think needed to be there. (Of course, that’s simply my opinion.) Also, when everyone assumed early on that Emma knew about the magical world, things were not explained well. Even after finishing the book, I still don’t understand some of the hierarchy and components of the magical world as well as I think I should.
Overall, I thought this was an imaginative story. I liked the blend of history and magic. What could go wrong with debutantes and witchcraft? (…Everything. Everything could go wrong.)