A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.
For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.
Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.
I have to say, the start of this book drew me in right away. After all, the ,main character is introduced to us when she’s in the form of a toad.
The best way to describe this world that Luanne G. Smith has built would be “earthy”. Whimsical is too magicky, lush is too lavish, green is too bland, though it’s definitely all those things as well. I enjoyed the world immensely. It’s probably the most unique fantasy world I’ve read in a while.
The characters were fine. I think the lack of connection came from the third person POV, which I tend to dislike. Elena is a perfectly fine protagonist though. One thing I especially like was that she knew about magic before the book started. I like it better when main characters are half-competent at least, so she definitely satisfied that.
The romance is very meh, but again, I think that comes from the lack of connection to the main character. I will say that the skeptic/believer dynamic is always a fun trope. It’s not too big of a deal regardless, as romance isn’t the main point of the novel.
What I did really like was the air of mystery, and the witchy-ness, of course. The plot was unique, which was a relief after all the deposed-queen-takes-back-her-kingdom YA Fantasies I’ve read lately.
All in all, it was a decent read. How could it not have been? She’s literally a wine witch! At three stars, I’d recommend to lovers of magic, witches, and curses!
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Luanne G. Smith is the author of THE VINE WITCH, a fantasy novel about witches, wine, and revenge set in early 20th century France, and the forthcoming second book in the series, THE GLAMOURIST. She’s lucky enough to live in Colorado at the base of the beautiful Rocky Mountains, where she enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, a glass of wine at the end of the day, and finding the magic in everyday life. Author Links: Goodreads・Website・Twitter・Instagram