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The Witches of Echo Park (An Echo Park Coven Novel) Mass Market Paperback – December 29, 2015
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“A dark compelling page-turner.”—Kelley Armstrong, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Betrayals
“Great characters, great story, great setting—Amber Benson’s got it.”—John Scalzi, New York Times bestselling author of The End of All Things
“Dark, delicious, and devilishly intricate.”—Seanan McGuire, New York Times bestselling author of Once Broken Faith
“Dark, thoughtful urban fantasy...A fantastic read.”—Christopher Golden, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dead Ringers
“[An] urban fantasy series that deftly mixes magic and the modern world.”—Publishers Weekly
About the Author
- Publisher : Ace (December 29, 2015)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0425282465
- ISBN-13 : 978-0425282465
- Item Weight : 5.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.2 x 0.78 x 6.7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #187,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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I fist have to say that it is a real treat to hear Amber Benson reading her own books. I feel I am getting something extra that I would not get from another reader.
The Witches of Echo Park is the first book of a series and thus we are hit with a lot of characters at once and the plot builds. We meet Lyse and her great-aunt Eleanora first and they are focal characters of this book. Lyse is your very typical Amber Benson heroine; quirky, a little neurotic, sweet and absolutely no clue about what is in store for her. I can picture her sitting down with Calliope (from her Daughter of Death series) over coffee and talking about who had it worse. But also like Calliope, Lyse has a hidden reserve of will and power and hopefully we will see more of it. We are also in turn introduced to the other members of the Echo Park Coven. Devandra, the tarot card reader and mother of two. I am expecting her daughters also have some power. Arrabelle, the second in charge (behind Eleanora) and the herbalist of the group. Daniela, a powerful empath and equally forward flirt. She has a lot of secrets. And lastly Lizbeth. She is the mystery here. 17, mute, and a terrible childhood.
Now it would be easy to complain that this is only a set up and by the time the book gets going it is over. But no, this book is the set up, but there is a reason why this book does what it does and ends where it does. The plot is about to be turned up to 11 and our witches are in for a wild ride.
Amber has really honed her craft here. I like the switching narrators (the various members of the coven) to give a different point of view. The pacing is good and I feel like I am in for a great ride here.
By the end of the book I did want more, and that is a good thing. The next book can pick up where this left off or a couple months down the line; either way I am excited and looking forward to the next one.
But the real appeal of this novel is the writing itself. As a reader, you end up swimming through classical prose that manages to keep that razor's edge of pulp elegance while delivering the rich sophistication of literary storytelling. I can't say enough good things about Amber Benson's amazing prose - I really can't.
The story and plot are standard-issue urban fantasy, but her prose tranforms it from a formulaic genre savvy book into something that comes very close to the kind of tale that will end up being talked about at university book clubs.
The real drawbacks are the inconsistent world-building and the lack of solid revelation about how and why the world works the way it does - which is a must for me in any kind of fantasy. But the prose makes even that forgivable.
This book serves, at its core, as a eulogy for Eleanora. (No spoilers here: The book opens with her dying of cancer, which is why her grandniece, Lyse, returns to Echo Park in the first place.) Flashbacks allow the reader to get a real sense of some of the biggest moments of Eleanora's life, letting a plot that only covers maybe a week of present-day time delve deeper into decades worth of character development. We do not experience Eleanora only through Lyse's perspective, or Eleanora's friends, but through Eleanora herself--a major benefit of switching character points of view. If you love character-driven work, this is the book for you! The bulk of the present day plot seems to take place in the last 50 or so pages of the book. Much of the book is dedicated to character exploration, acquainting you with a whole cast of different kinds of women (anyone ranging from the girl who starts the book with a hangover to the mother of two who reads tarot cards to the pink-haired, leather-gloved woman who is anything but warm and fuzzy, except when it comes to her cats).
Author Amber Benson shows reverence for the place, lingering on images of houses and landscapes as well as any opportunities to explore the culture of Echo Park. The prose is--simply put--beautiful without being self-involved or indulgent. Benson's lovely descriptions feel fresh and true and relatable. Overall, I highly recommend this book, the first in a trilogy (if I'm remembering that correctly) that you'll want to pre-order book #2 for by the end of this installment.
Top reviews from other countries
The story has an incredible cast of characters, who drive the story with their personalities and the fact that they live off the page. The exploration of female relationships is so awesome, and I'd love to see more books with a similar focus. (Thank god for sequels, right?) Even though Lyse is our way into the world in Echo Park, she by no means overshadows the other characters. They are all given time to flourish and make you fall in love with them. Eleanora's colourful language is possibly one of my favourite things.
The storyline is also intriguing. Benson puts her own spin on witchcraft, and the world she creates is easy to fall into. I need more of these women, I need to know what happens next, and I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel!
However, I felt a little disappointed by the time I got to the middle of the book. The book seemed rushed. There were so many amazing characters, and such an interesting story, but it felt like you barely got to glimpse little flashes of the richness and then huge changes happened. Maybe because it's just the first book in what could be a long series, who knows.
It's the first book I've read by the author so I can make no comparisons to other works.
Personally I found it to be less of a "pick-up-and-put-down" type book and more of a - staying up late because you can't put it down - type of book.
Highly recommended, and I can't wait for the next book in the Echo Park series!