Saturday, March 09, 2013

Book Review: Witch Weigh by Caroline Mickelson

Book Review: Witch Weigh
Author: Caroline Mickelson
Kindle Price: $2.99
Paperback: $6.49

Book Description
Tessa Von Hellengaard is a real witch. Magical spells aside, she’s snarky and selfish, and the other witches in her silent spell coven are fed up with her. Their plan to reform Tessa involves taking away her magic, saddling her with one hundred extra pounds, and sending her to a weight loss spa. For good measure they call in Liam Kennedy, a charming and sexy fairy godfather, to teach her some manners. Desperate to regain her magic and determined to shed the weight, Tessa soon realizes that protecting her heart from Liam will prove to be her greatest challenge.

First of all, I have to state up-front I am not a fan of the Romance genre.  I find most romance novels are too unbelievable, too far removed from real life for me to enter a fictive state. From my non-reader of romance position, I weary over drop-dead gorgeous heroes and heroines who will after the author has showered the couple with lots of drama, conflict and raising stakes are destined to live the fairytale happily ever after no matter what period the story is set.

So, forgive me if this is what you like about the Romance genre.

Second of all, although the Kindle price is $2.99 I acquired this book when it was a free download.

Thirdly, as an aspiring author, I am aware of some story and writing techniques that non-writer readers may not be aware of, so naturally, this affects my review compared to other reviewers.

Char Mesan Reviews
Witch Weigh can probably be best described as a paranormal romance novella, meaning it is a shorter read, and meant to be taken as ‘lighter’ and ‘more fun’ (story-wise) than full length novels.

The main, female character, Tessa Von Hellengaard, is a witch living in a mortal world.  She is a member of a coven, and uses her magic against mortals (mainly to push people around) in order to get what she wants, without any consideration of the effect – emotional, physical or otherwise – that she is causing to these other people. Tessa’s sole, selfish, focus as the story starts is to be elected as the coven’s representative to teach non-verbal spell-casting, for which her own coven specialises, in Europe.

Tessa is meant to be selfish and ‘snarky’ in personality, and she is.  Only, as a reader, I find her (what the author shouldn’t want) completely unlikeable, and therefore undeserving of a happily ever after ending despite the character learning the full-preachy lessons that are deliberately enforced upon her by her coven (and the author). The only ‘cool’ thing about Tessa that kept me reading Witch Weigh and not put the book down as soon as the disgusting behaviour became apparent is that as a witch, the character is able to perform magic (my most favourite aspect of these types of stories).  And not that over-the-top, Hollywood has vamped it up to full throttle in order to appeal to action-adventure movie-goers type of magic either, a la Harry Potter (movie), Merlin (TV series) and Once Upon a Time (TV series); more the wondrously simple magic casting like Samantha in Bewitched (TV series) or any children’s books the likes of The Folk of the Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton and so on. So, the magic in Witch Weigh was rather delightful and appealing (for me).

Okay, so I didn’t like Tessa one bit, but I still read the story, because, well, the author’s writing style was easy and interesting enough to continue on.

In the Harry Potter books (not the movies as much), one of the strongest appeals was that of the richness of the wizarding world. In Witch Weigh, the elderly coven members being fed up about their rude and arrogant member (because Tessa is more downright rude and arrogant in addition to being selfish than the lesser description of ‘snarky’ or being ‘full of sass’ personality-wise) conjure a plan to force Tessa to learn a few lessons and change her rude, selfish and arrogant ways by teaming her up with a fairy godfather (a nice shake-up from the ordinary) and turning the usually thin Tessa into an overweight one attending a Fat Camp to work off the excess weight.

I was genuinely engaged watching the stubbornly arrogant and ignorant Tessa be slow to learn that the way to lose the excess kilo’s for her was not having to undertake hard workouts but to act from a place of kindness and unselfishness even though I didn't like the character.

The trouble for me, was that the author made the fairy godfather, Liam Kennedy, assigned to whip Tessa’s personality back into a more acceptable shape was more ‘Greek Adonis Angel’ than Fairy Godfather, so naturally, the two main characters were going to fall in love and live happily ever after.

But, I found the whole ‘romance’ between these two characters trite and unrealistic.

Liam Kennedy appears to be assigned troublesome witches with bad attitudes as being some sort of expert in whipping their personalities back into shape as his job.  So, for me, it was unrealistic that the drop-dead handsome godfather would start to develop feelings of like or love towards a personality that is so rude and obnoxious.  Maybe, if he had of fallen for Tessa once she was reformed (seriously, that is not a spoiler, is it?  I mean, you can see that Tessa will reform before stories end, without me having just stated it?) I might have liked the story a bit better and found his falling for her a bit more believable. But as it stands, Liam, the expert personality changer, starts falling for the bad personality instead of a nice one. Yeah, right.  I'd so fall in love with someone that selfish, arrogant and mean if I was an expert in helping bring out the best in people - not.

So this was where the Romance genre bit kicked in... and my interest waned, and eye-rolling began. And yes, Tessa reforms and there is a Happily Ever After style ending to round it all off and bring the story to its conclusion.

The strengths of this book are that it appears professionally edited, and the author’s writing style was engaging and easy to read, that the author made her writing seem effortless (and I know it is a lot of hard work!)

The weakness of the story is that it contained some ‘cliché’ genre elements that as an author myself I try hard to avoid within my own storytelling.

I enjoyed the story enough to keep reading, but I could easily have turned my Kindle off and not bothered to have gone back to finish it off because of the elements I don't like.

For me, the book was free and I enjoyed it sufficiently to give it a four star rating; but if I had of had to pay $2.99 to purchase it, then I probably would have been a bit more critical (and I don't like to be), and perhaps a bit more unfavourable towards the author (I know, I haven't perfected my own writing yet, so who am I to critique another writer!).  All up, I think I would have been content to have paid $1.99 for this Kindle book as reasonably priced.

If you love stories with romance, magical elements, a bit of ‘heroine’ acting arrogant, then you will definitely enjoy Witch Weigh as a delightful 'beach' or 'waiting room' read.

I've read worse.  I'm giving the story a four star rating instead of five purely because Tessa wasn't very likeable as a main character, and Liam becoming romantically interested in the horrible Tessa occurred too soon for it to be believable.  But apart from those two aspects, and that 'a lesson needs to be learned' is a bit preachy, the story and writing was, even if I haven't conveyed this properly,  worth reading.

Witch Weigh is available in paperback and Kindle versions from Amazon

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