Woman Opens a Book, Becomes Leader of the Underworld
Word Count: 83,450
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Mildly entertaining is the best way to describe Forever Charmed. It's somewhere between The Good Witch and Charmed as far as tone and absurdity level goes.
Halloween "Hallie" LaVeau is descended from a long line of witches. That, along with being born on Halloween should have set her up for success. But not so much. A notoriously incompetent witch, Hallie is the laughing stock of her local coven and she accidentally burned off her mother's eyebrows-- permanently.
But when Hallie inherits her great-aunt's spooky old manor and turns it into a bed-and-breakfast, everything changes.
When cleaning out her grandmother's attic, she finds an old book written in a language she doesn't know. But then the book turns to an unlabeled spell written in English and she feels compelled to try it even though she doesn't know what it is.
Then suddenly two mysterious men appear at her door, looking for rooms at her bed and breakfast. Nicolas and Liam look like brothers but they claim they don't know each other despite hating each other on sight. Hallie is positive they are lying to her about their reasons for turning up on her doorstep.
When it's revealed as the new leader of the Underworld-- which she didn't even know existed-- and that an evil witch is out to kill her for it, things get even more complicated. And Hallie can kiss any thought of a normal life goodbye.
Do you like urban fantasy novels?
Hallie, her mother, and her best friend are all pretty cool. I especially love her mother, who turns out to be a bit of a secret badass who has her daughter's back, despite Hallie thinking she's just a complete disappointment to her.
Her best friend, Annabelle is also cool. She's scared of everything, including ghosts and strangers, but despite that, she's able to be Hallie's friend even though Hallie is a witch, and she's willing to face her fears on Hallie's behalf.
I like Hallie mostly, too. She knows better than to trust Nicolas and Liam when they first show up and I can't judge her too much for trying to cast an unlabeled spell when the book compelled her to do so. But despite repeatedly calling Nicolas and Liam out on their bullshit and having them continue to lie to her, she trusts them.
The thing is, they're not even good liars. Their stories change all the time about who they are, why they're in town, and what Hallie should do with the books that make her the leader of the Underworld. It's very clear from the beginning that they have their own agendas but she keeps thinking that they "seem sincere".
This leads to really weird storytelling sometimes. Like in one scene, Nicolas bursts into her living room, soaking wet from the rain and urgently demands the books. Hallie refuses and after a 30-second conversation, they are cuddled against each other on the couch, eating pizza and watching Pride and Prejudice. It made no sense and was really frustrating.
Hallie also should have trusted her mother more. Yes, her mother might be disappointed that Hallie isn't a stronger witch and she might feel a touch of resentment for having her eyebrows permanently burnt off, but she's not exactly going to let her daughter get killed by an evil witch, now is she?
When Hallie can't trust the two strangers living in her house, an evil witch is after her, there are weird books compelling her to cast random spells, and oh yeah she's now the heir apparent to the Underworld, maybe she should confide in the only witch who has her back? Just a thought.
The two characters I really, really don't like are Liam and Nicolas. Their constant lies make them completely untrustworthy and even by the end of the book, after the truth about them had been "revealed", I still don't trust them. There wasn't anything remarkable or attractive about either of them, despite both of them being very attractive. A pretty face does not a love interest make.
Together, they formed a love triangle even more toxic than most love triangles. And it just had me rolling my eyes page after page. Come on, Hallie, you can do better. Even that garden gnome your mom turned into a prom date is better than these two losers.
Do you like love triangles?
The narration kind of annoyed me as well. Almost every chapter ended with a contrived cliffhanger.
Like, you know how in Nancy Drew, all the chapter end with lines like "The diamond necklace was gone!" and "Mr. Crowley was unconscious on the floor!" That's how most of the chapters in Forever Charmed ended, more or less.
But what sucked me into a book when I was nine now makes me roll my eyes and snicker. I would have preferred a little more real suspense and less soap opera tricks.
There was a lot to like about the story. The storytelling structure, the magic, and the adventure were all really enjoyable and it's always fun reading about witches in our world. If I ever see sequels to this book available for a dollar or less, I might even read them. But because of the narration and the two "love interests", this book was just okay.