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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Would-Be Witch by Kimberly Frost

I was very disappointed by WOULD-BE WITCH. Based on the description and the blurbs, I was expecting a Janet Evanovich-style story -- some sexy moments, lots of laughs -- but WOULD-BE WITCH was nothing like that for me. I can see where someone might have gotten that idea and perhaps this book will appeal to other readers who enjoy humorous stories but I was quite let down by this novel. It has pieces of what could be a good book but it largely fails to deliver, at least to my mind. This was quite sad since I thought the book opens with a great scene that really establishes who Tammy Jo is in a fun and memorable way.

My main problem is the stereotyping. WOULD-BE WITCH is rife with stereotypes. I don't mind that in a lot of cases -- after all, it's hard to reinvent the wheel with witches and werewolves as your main supernatural beings -- but that's not where I took issue with this novel. I also didn't mind the fact that we had the stereotypical mean girl, country bumpkin-types, Texan he-men, and all that. Caricature-type characters is something I would expect in an Evanovich-like novel and they fit into the style that Frost is using. But there's a line you have to walk when you have larger than life characters and I don't think that Frost succeeded in this novel. There were moments when I found myself taken aback by the way that the one Asian character was depicted. Johnny Nguyen Ho is Vietnamese, gay, and a theatre director. He's also a non-native speaker of English. None of this would be problematic, except for the way that Frost has written his speech. I hope that she was trying to produce a humorous character but to me, it came off as patronising. It reminded me a lot of the way that non-white characters would be depicted on TV in the 60s, with very broken English, because Johnny never use the verb be in his sentences, saying things like "You gorgeous" and "She not tall enough". (Yes, there are dialects where this happens and yes, non-native speakers of English can struggle with the language but this isn't at all accurate.) Unfortunately, I found myself getting more and more put off every time Johnny came onto the page because of the way he was written.

I also found the narrative and pacing to be inconsistent. There was something about the way things were written that felt very up and down and it was challenging to stay hooked on the narrative. I think this may be due, at least in part, to the fact that I found Frost's writing for Johnny so jarring.

There's a love triangle in this novel, among Tammy Jo (the main character), her ex-husband Zach the Deputy and Bryn the Forbidden Handsome Witch. I liked Tammy Jo's relationship with Zach and enjoyed the push-and-pull. I could have done without the Bryn aspect of it. It felt a bit forced at times, maybe because Bryn wasn't terribly well descriptive. I think he was supposed to be mysterious but he came off as rather two-dimensional.

That being said, there were things I liked about WOULD-BE WITCH. Like I said earlier, the opening scene is great. The plot is generally quite interesting -- I always enjoy stories that have that coming-into-your-own theme and Frost writes Tammy Jo's confusion well. There are some nice twists and turns in the main mystery and also in Tammy Jo's learning witchcraft. She's not at all adept at magic and I was quite curious to see how she would get a handle on things. We don't get answers in WOULD-BE WITCH but we do get to see some progress on that front. I also liked a lot of the characters, particularly Zach and Edie. Zach is a bit of a stereotype but a thoroughly enjoyable one. Edie's a family ghost with a lot of attitude. There are also some great new funny moments, particularly early on in the novel.

Although I didn't love WOULD-BE WITCH, I would suggest that you try it yourself to see if it's more your cup of tea.

Read an excerpt (and review snippets)


Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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