On the surface this is a fairly typical coming of age/gaining magical powers story. Jewel and her family have moved countless times since she was a child. Jewel is under the impression that they're on the run from the mob and in witness protection. But with the approach of her seventeenth birthday, Jewel starts to realize that there may be something odd about her. Finally, she discovers that she's destined to become the spectral--a super powerful witch, who's presence will bring special prosperity to whatever coven possesses her. Jewel wonders who she can trust--her family? Her new friends? Friendly, nice guy Chase? Dark, sexy Roman? Or is she on her own?
I have to start by saying that the cover is both gorgeous and relevant to the story. Kudos to the artist.
The story is rich with ideas that put a slightly different spin on the usual witch story. Each witch has his or her own power--from the ability to calm others to the ability to create protective force-fields. As she comes into her powers, Jewel gains the ability to absorb the powers of anyone who attacks her. Assuming that this is the first book in a series, I can see this ability expanding to both aid and harm our heroine.
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Like love triangles? Well, you're in luck. Jewel has two attractive boys who are into her (because OF COURSE she does). The upside of this is that, while both boys are likeable characters, one is pretty clearly in the friend zone from the first time that he appears. Jewel doesn't intentionally drag out her indecision, and so who she'll end up with is obvious. I liked that Chase was constantly willing to step in when Jewel needed him, and that he was undemanding in his feelings toward her. I also liked that Roman sticks his neck out for Jewel, risking torture, imprisonment, or death to be with her. Does she deserve either one of them? Probably not, but I think she will in time.
I liked that there was some question as to who the good guys really are. You aren't certain of who is the most evil until the climax. I also appreciated that the "villains" were given sufficient motivation for their actions, beyond just evil for the sake of evil.
The beginning was painfully slow for me. Because I knew what general direction the plot was headed in, I was frustrated with all of the exposition and explanation. I felt that Jewel took an awfully long time to figure out things that were right in front of her. All of those inconsistencies and half truths she's been living with for sixteen years, and she's only now figuring out that things are off?
Overall, Jewel was something of a frustrating character. Aside from the willful blindness that I already mentioned, she has some moments of poor judgement that rattled me. The use of the powers she acquires, for example, struck me as reckless. She's using mind control on people without knowing what the fall out could be! For all she knows, it could zap her energy or put her in a coma or damage her brain.
While I felt the world building was passable overall, I had some issues with a few of the details. I questioned, for example, why it was necessary to keep Jewel's powers a secret from her. Because it might cause her to start gaining power before she's ready? How does that work? And I'm not sure of some of the rules, such as how restricted each witch's power is and what role covens serve in this, and so forth.
If you're a big fan of witches, and you don't mind a little predictability, this is a good book choice for you. I would also recommend it to fans of love triangles and romances that progress at the speed of light. While not flawless, this book is entirely enjoyable. 3.5 stars.
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