Double double, twins spell trouble…
Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers–the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.
When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.
Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.
Title: Spells Trouble
Author: PC Cast & Kristin Cast
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Digital ARC
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Date Published: May 25th, 2021
Trigger Warnings: Parental Death, Eyeball Removal
Rating: 3//5 Owls
I really wanted to love this book. I’ve heard great things about the House of Night series and I’ve always wanted to check out some of their books.
However now I’m not sure if I’ll read anything else by them…
This book is about the Goode sisters and the town that they live. They’re descendants of witches and use five trees to keep the underworlds away from Earth…or something like that.
Not gonna lie I didn’t fully understand the whole tree thing.
Our sisters are Hunter and Mercy – and I couldn’t full tell who was who a lot of the time.
Mercy is the “Green witch”, is popular, outgoing, well liked, has her best friend Emily and her football playing boyfriend Kirk. She is basically your stereotypical “popular girl:
Then there’s Hunter. Let’s check off the “stereotypical literary lesbian” checkboxes shall we? Androgynous name? Check! Bullied as a child? Check! As a male best friend? Check! Defies social norms? CHECK!
Now I haven’t read any other books by these two, but Hunter makes me feel like they got yelled at for not including enough queer characters and thought “okay we need to make someone in our next book gay, what kinds of things do lesbians like?” She was such a weird caricature of what a queer girl living in a small town would be. I love that queer characters are becoming more commonplace in literature, and I’m all for straight authors writing them as well, but overly stereotypical characters are gross and do way more harm than good. If you don’t know how to write about someone from a certain background, no matter if its sexual orientation, race, class background, either do real research or stick to what you know.
Now even though Mercy and Hunter had pretty distinct differences in their personalities, I found their voices to be way too similar. The story switched perspectives, and sometimes I wasn’t quite sure which twin was speaking.
Same with their best friends, Emily and Jax, despite gender differences, personality differences, parental differences, I couldn’t quite separate their voices. The only character’s that really stood out were Xena and Kirk, but one of them is also a cat and the other is a douche, so its not too difficult there.
And I know that these characters are teenagers, but they are ridiculously juvenile. They speak in hashtags, and make the type of sexual jokes I would have laughed at in middle school. It seemed more like someone’s vague idea about how teenagers speak, instead of actual teenagers.
Then there’s the actual plot:
I liked the idea of this story, its a town founded by a witch, and there’s five trees surrounding the town that keep the town (or maybe the whole earth?) safe. One thing I found odd is that this town is founded by a witch, and everyone knows the Goode family are witches, but they still hide the fact that they’re witches? Like there is only a certain level of witchiness they want people to know about.
The concept of the story was really cool. I love the idea of these tree portals, of how all the terrible mythical creatures are more than likely inside these underworld portals, and its only a cute little apple tree keeping them closed. I loved the whole witch descendant storyline, and how when they’re “of age” they choose a practice of magic and a goddess (or god) to be their…advisor thing.
It’s a really cool story idea, but between the too similar of characters and then the MASSIVE amounts of explaining what was happening instead of showing, made it very difficult to enjoy. There is one part, where the sisters discuss their plan, then they sit there and carefully explain every tiny detail of their plan, but then they go and DO the plan mostly off page. I would’ve much preferred a brief planning stage, followed by fully showing them doing the plan. There was just SO MUCH of it, and I got really tired of reading descriptions of events instead of witnessing the events.
Overall I guess I expected a lot more than this book than what was given, and although I enjoyed the concept, the execution was lacking. I am a little curious abut what happens next, but I don’t think I’m curious enough to read the second book….
*Thank you NetGalley for the advanced reader copy. All opinions are my own.
I have a few other thoughts but I felt like they need a spoiler warning so I’ve shared them below.
Read the next part at your own risk!
(I mean it….)
Some Spoiler thoughts below
The part where Kirk “reveals” his real personality was absolutely terribly written. One minute he is begging Mercy for forgiveness for bragging about their sex life, and the next he’s playing the part of the big dumb douche. The transition was abrupt and awkward. The reader knows right from the start that Kirk will in fact, turn out to be an ass because every character but Mercy kept saying so, but it just felt so forced. Why help Mercy and Hunter with their spell if you were only in it to get laid? Why comfort and hold her while she cried for her mother? I can’t imagine someone as dumb as Kirk being smart enough to “play the long game” just to have sex.
Also, the sex scene was sooooooo awkward and weirdly worded. I love a good sex scene, but this was just so uncomfortable to read. These were also two sentences featured in this book in reference to sex:
“Sweetheart, would you like to discuss your clitoris—again?” her mother asked.”
“Oh, and you’re welcome for your multiple orgasms. They’re familial, you know.”
There’s also the matter of Hunter and her god/goddess of choice. Obviously, choosing Tyr as her god wasn’t the reason the trees started changing, but they give no explanation as to why she wanted to choose Tyr and if he is not the cause, there is no speculation as to what it could be. I know its setting up for a second book, but it was just too many loose ends.