Witch Way by M. A. Marino
Publisher: Lycaon Press
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, YA
Length: Full Length (193 Pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen
“Evil isn’t something you are, it’s something you become.”
Jessica O’Rourke is learning the dangers that young witches face when dabbling in not-so-good magic for personal gain. All of the women in Jessie’s family are witches. Not the kind of witches that fly on brooms or cast spells with pointed sticks. They’re the kind of witches that Jessie’s mother called practical witches—that is, until she got killed. The worst part about her mother’s death is that her father was the one who did it and now Jessie has to live in a house full of witchy aunts who remind her way too much of how sad she is inside. Jessie’s father has gone missing but she knows he’ll back to take down the rest of her family.
After an encounter with a group of girls, who Jessie’s Aunt Abby describes as “bad news,” Jessie finds herself in a heated battle with the warlocks that threaten to destroy her entire bloodline. In time, she unveils an unimaginable secret about herself that will surely alter her future. Jessie has to decide which way she will turn and how she will use her new powers to stop her father from hurting anyone else. Can she stop herself from becoming evil in the process?
Jessie lands in an orphanage, and at fifteen, she is one of the oldest. She arrived two weeks earlier after her father murdered her mother. She had walked in on him and now she has to put up with the annoying Annie who tries to help every time Jessie has a nightmare, which is every night. She’s tried running away, but she always gets caught. Miss Mason, the coordinator of the group home, keeps trying to get her to talk, but Jessie refuses. She is mired in grief and anger and she tries to block it all out. But Miss Mason does support her when her aunt arrives and wants to be Jessie’s guardian. The state social worker thinks that Rhiannon is too young, at twenty-eight, to care for a troubled teen, especially since Rhiannon has two younger sisters, aged twenty-three and eighteen. With Miss Mason siding with Jessie, Rhiannon is allowed to assume guardianship, and thus begins a new life for Jessie, as she moves from California to New York, into the home of her three aunts and one small cousin, all of whom are witches, just as she is.
This is a very compelling novel with fantastic, well-developed characters. Jessie is obviously very troubled and it doesn’t help that she is empathic and hence can feel all the sadness of those around her. But she is smart and she responds to her Aunt Rhiannon’s kindness and gentleness. As the story surrounding Jessie comes out, there are more mysteries to solve and Jessie is afraid that she is actually evil, because of her paternal heritage. She has very tough choices to make and while most of us will never know what it is like to be a witch, all of us can identify with Jessie’s battle. Her aunt Abby tells her that “evil is a choice.” The novel portrays Jessie’s search for truth, for her very identity, for the strength not to choose evil.
The story is filled with action and the pacing is excellent. The portrayal of high school life rings true. The small community where Jessie now lives with her aunts is realistic and I really felt as if I were in the heart of the action. The author has enriched the story with many details, making it fully developed and very believable.
Readers of fantasy and paranormal stories are sure to find this to be both exciting and thought-provoking. I hope to read more from this author.