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Feature book: Bespelled

15 July 2015

Bespelled_KristoffBespelled by Dani Kristoff

Jake is a high flying, wheeling and dealing, hot shot corporate attorney who, unbeknownst to himself and the reader (until later in the story), is a warlock. He runs his business life on a tight schedule, and he uses women as arm candy to satisfy his physical requirements. He doesn’t believe in love. Interestingly, he has a redeeming platonic relationship with his long-term friend and executive assistant, Pen, who keeps him organised. He relies on her to fix situations and juggle clients when he needs to reschedule.

Elena Denholm believes herself to be a half-witch. She makes feel-good charms, which she sells at craft markets to earn a living. She has an Aunt Elvira and a cousin called Grace, who took her in when her mother decamped. Elena believes her father, whoever he was, to be human and hence her apparently lesser witch capabilities. Her charms (plaited raffia, herbs, flowers and ribbons) are bought by members of the folk, witches, warlocks, fairies and humans. Her cousin Grace has asked Elena to attend a meeting with an attorney on her behalf about a parcel of land she is reluctant to sell. Elena’s family also has been trying to set her up with various members of the witch community in an effort to get her mated.

Elena agrees to meet Jake about Grace’s property at a restaurant to fit in with his tight schedule. While at the restaurant, a love spell is given to both Elena and Jake in the form of wine, although Elena avoids actually imbibing the spell. Elena decides it’s her moral obligation to look after Jake, whom she believes to be human, until she can rid him of the love spell. Their relationship details Elena’s struggle and failure not to succumb to Jake’s advances.

The book started out strong, and in keeping with a hundred page novella, with interesting ideas and a good start at world building with witches and warlocks. However, after the initial sexy weekend between Elena and Jake, the novella started exploring some of the secondary characters in detail befitting a standard novel-length book. This pulled the story away from Elena’s and Jake’s relationship and into their family histories. There was a red herring in the form of Elena’s cat. What was its purpose and what was the significance of its transformation from ghost to corporeal? Drew, in the role of baddie, was confusing. Why was he obsessed with Elena after one mediocre date? It would also have been satisfying to see him receive some comeuppance for his abduction of and attempted rape of Elena. A light story with interesting but not fully realised elements.

Reviewed by Gina

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

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