A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.
For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.
Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.
I will admit I got this a while ago, and it was only when I had the chance of an extended break that I got the chance to sit down and read it.
I thought it was my oldest ebook from Netgalley, but when I checked Netgalley – Ai!! Yes, it’s an “old” ebook, but not on Netgalley – I need to know where else I need to post this review.
It starts with a woman, under an enchantment that made her a toad, finally escaping her enchantment (losing a toe in the process). She returns to the house and the “family” she remembers, only to find that she has been away for 7 years, and the vines have fallen into disrepute during her absence.
The vineyard has been brought by a man of science and law (from the city) since her disappearance, and he doesn’t appreciate her return as someone who practices “magic” (i.e. “not science”) over the vines.
Meanwhile Elena (the now-ex-toad) has her own theories over who cast the spell to make her a toad – only to be accused of his murder.
The remainder of the book introduces us to various characters and plot devices to resolve the issue of who killed who, how and why.
Whilst this (to me at last) was a slow start, it was easily consumed in a few days when I had the chance to sit down and read it. It wasnt “gripping” enough for me to put it down in the beginning, but was enjoyable and fast paced enough when I finally had the chance to sit and complete it.
Even whilst the denouement was fairly heavy with magic, there is a reasonable balance between science and (black) magic, so most people should be able to accept this as a story.