There is something wrong in North Hampton. It is a small close-knit town, not found on any map. Fair Haven, the old manor house, has stood empty for years. Owned by the same family for hundreds of years, no one has seen anyone near the house, so it is with surprise when neighbors first begin to see lights in the old home.
This seems to be only the beginning of strange and deadly happenings, as an elderly couple is attacked on the beach. The man is killed and his wife left for dead, but now in a coma in the hospital. On the surface life continues and yet there is one other family who is beginning to feel the undertow of danger. Freya Beauchamp and her sister Ingrid are different, with just a hint of their own mysterious past bubbling just below the surface. Strange occurrences often follow them as well. They are not alone in their difference. How could they be? Their mother also lives in North Hampton, and the young women have inherited many of their mother’s characteristics.
Freya has the most difficulty. She is young and full of energy, and magic rolls off her, igniting incidents without fail. Careful to keep her calm, she still is often unable to control her excitement. Her kind has been banned from practicing magic as part of the agreement after the Salem witch trials. Freya is the first to break the rule. Just a tiny bit – no one will know. Soon Ingrid and their mother Joanne find themselves using ‘small’ enchantments, ‘small’ magic, only to help their friends. How can that be wrong? Will their disobedience be noticed?
Even as they begin to worry about the attention they are receiving, people are beginning to disappear. There is an odd growth in the water around North Hampton, reported in several other areas around the world. People are beginning to act out, with no provocation. Ingrid first becomes aware of the way this substance connects itself to people. Can she and her family find the answers before their lives are destroyed? Can they stop the one responsible for spreading the poison?
How will they explain the use of magic, and why now after hundreds of years does it seem right? In Witches of East End by Melissa De La Cruz, we are introduced to an intriguing story of what happened to witches after the Salem witch hunts. It is a unique and quite fascinating glimpse of life after the trials. De La Cruz has taken the usual witch tale and twisted it into a fantastic story. She has used her unusual approach and layered it in with an all-encompassing evil, though her characters are very altruistic.
Freya is generous and fun with energy to spare. Just engaged, she finds herself drawn to her fiancés’ brother. She is not sure what is happening, she knows she is in love, so how is it that she cannot control herself around Killian? Not only that but when she decides to break the rules and use her magic to help a friend, she begins to remember how alive it makes her feel. She refuses to feel any wrong in her decision. She feels more alive than ever, but is not sure what she will do about her feeling for the two brothers. She is passionate, alive, and just a bit selfish. Yet she is so human and, even with her powers of magic, she often does the wrong thing, giving her very human characteristics. It draws you to her, and gives her a certain charisma.
Ingrid has hidden away and hides her beauty in plainness. She works in the library and has become the old maid, often denoted as librarians in many books. De La Cruz has created a wonderful character with heart. It took me a while to warm up to Ingrid but once you find that warmth is was hard to imagine her any other way.
Their mother is the quintessential mother in many ways. She worries for her girls and yet understands they have grown up and need their space. She has taken on a young child to care for while his parents are away and she is finding a freshness that she had forgotten. She had not seen, nor heard from her own son for so long she began to wonder if he was no longer alive. This was her chance to remember and relive some of her earlier life. When Tyler gets ill, will Joanna be able to save him?
Can they all come together to stop the darkness before it is too late? Witches of East End is a strong and fast-paced story. It hooks you from the first and you will have difficulty putting it down. It is full of suspense, horror and action, yet interspaced with romance and sensuality, with just enough fire for the romance aficionado. There is something for everyone, a book that is a must have for your library. It is one to take out and read again, and still find small bits you may have missed. A great book for a book club or a reading group.