After seeing a tweet from Jody Gehrman‘s agent on Twitter, I contacted the agent and received a pdf version of Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft in exchange for an honest review. I really wanted to get my hands on a copy of this book because the blurb sounded like it would be a really fun read, and I’m glad I took the time to pursue this little gem of a book. I’ve been telling everyone who will listen about the coming of age story of Audrey the witch.
Audrey has a bad feeling all day, she knows, in her gut, that something is terribly wrong with her mother. When she finally gets home after school, her mother is no where to be found, and she wont answer her cell phone either. Then, a long lost “cousin”, Sadie, shows up on their door step as Meg, Audrey’s sister, and Audrey are eating the last of the melting ice cream right out of the tub. Sadie informs the girls that she will be staying with them while their mother handles a “family emergency.” But Audrey is suspicious, her mother never talked about her side of the family and with her their father dead, Audrey and Meg didn’t really think they had much in the way of extended family. All they really knew about their mother’s family was that she grew up as part of a hippie commune.
Then strange things start happening to Audrey, her senses are heightened, she shatters glass with her mind, and knocks over one of the Mean Girls at school by shooting at the girl with power from her eyes. Plus, Audrey is having visions of a scary man who shows up, in all places, on her creme brulee. Audrey confronts Sadie with all these strange happenings, sure they have to something to do with her mother. Sadie tells Audrey she is a witch, in particular, an alchematrix, with a genetic predisposition to magic from her mother, who didn’t so much grow up on a hippie commune as on the Land full of Clan folk, all witches and sorcerers. Sadie confides in Audrey, that the Clan thought Audrey and Meg were Mundanes, and that was why Sadie (who communes with nature, and isn’t a heavy weight witch) was sent to watch them as their mother (a powerful witch) confronts a nemesis from her past. Everyone is surprised that Audrey is a witch as a witch can only be born from two people with magic in their blood, and Audrey’s father was a Mundane Audrey’s mother married after leaving the Clan and magic. Audrey begins to question everything she ever knew, and as her powers start to mature, she embraces her alchematrix side eager to help her mother in the fight against the bad guy, whoever he may be, even if she doesn’t know exactly what it is he is doing wrong. Other than bringing people back to life who should be dead, that is.
Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft was engaging and exciting. I really enjoyed the alchemist aspect of the story and how Audrey’s propensity for Chemistry and baking fed into her craft. Audrey is your typical 17 year-old and sometimes she is a bit whiny, but usually she gets over herself and does the right thing. Usually. So, I didn’t find her annoying, but instead she was courageous, if confused. Which stands to reason for someone who never knew they might turn out to be a witch with some strong magicks. I had some trouble with Audrey’s really advanced vocabulary (in her thoughts, as it is told from her point of view). I’m not sure even an obviously intelligent 17 year-old would think in such terms, but I understand the desire to balance what someone may say with a more articulated thinking. I also had trouble with all of Audrey’s recipes throughout the book. Normally, I don’t mind cooking mysteries that have recipes scattered throughout them, so I think the reason I didn’t like this aspect was because Audrey wrote down whatever list or recipe that had to do with anything, including recipes for cooking and for magic. I would have preferred if the recipes actually written out would have been one or the other. I also thought the recipes detracted from the suspense of the story, maybe if they had been at the end of the book instead, it would not have been so distracting.
Audrey is quite an engaging character. She is smart, loyal, and cares about her friends and family. Her coming of age story is powerful as she deals not only with the normal teenager stuff, meeting a boy, liking him, kissing him, but she also has to deal with understanding her magic and what it means, not being able to tell said boy about being a witch even as books fly around their heads as she kisses him. Audrey is also extremely loyal to her best friend, Bridget, one of my favorite characters in the book. Bridget lacks a little self confidence, but grows and gains some as the story progresses. Plus she is a total geek of the first order, and that is always cool in my book. This was a fun fast read that I became totally engrossed in as the story progressed, enjoying the mystery, magic, and madness.
Audrey’s Guide to Witchcraft is full of teenage confusion, the consequences of magic, and how the past has a way of affecting the future even when you think you put it behind you. You can pick up a copy on Amazon for a mere .99 cents or you can download a free copy on Smashwords today. Smashwords will be giving out free copies every Dark of the Moon (currently July 18 (TODAY!) through July 2o). So check it out!