I’ve loved books from these authors in the past, and was SUPER excited to check out the first book in this new series!
Author: P C Cast & Kristin Cast
Series: Sisters of Salem, #1
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Review Copy: NetGalley*
Hunter and Mercy Goode are twin witches, direct descendants of the founder of their town of Goodeville. As their ancestors have done before them, it is now time for the twins to learn what it means to be Gatekeepers-the protectors of the Gates to different underworlds, ancient portals between their world and realms where mythology rules and nightmares come to life.
When their mother becomes the first victim in a string of murders, the devastated sisters vow to avenge her death. But it will take more than magic to rein in the ancient mythological monsters who’ve infected their peaceful town.
Now Hunter and Mercy must come together and accept their destiny or risk being separated for good.
I got so excited when I saw this book announced. I love PC and Kristin Cast’s previous YA series, The House of Night, and I had no doubt I’d love this, too. I’ve been on more of a “witch kick” than a “vampire kick” lately, so I just knew this would be right up my ally.
What I Loved:
I really enjoyed the bond between the twin sisters, and them with their mother. They had almost a “hippy family” vibe, which was fun. I also loved how much joy they each had in their abilities. It wasn’t a burden, it wasn’t a chore, it wasn’t something they showed off or took advantage of. It was a gift they were grateful for.
While they weren’t 100% for-sure-for-sure about it, the girls’ best friends were included in their “circle of knowledge” about their magic, and that made for such a fantastic start to the story. When things inevitably take a horrible turn, the friends knowing about the magic definitely comes into play.
Hunter and Mercy Goode have been raised knowing their family history, and a basic idea of what their role as “gatekeepers” will be. I love that history, and that we learn about it through the prologue and flashbacks, and the wording of the ritual at the start of the book – all in a way that doesn’t feel like an info-dump. The introduction of the other realms linked by the gates in each of the Goodeville trees was very cool, too. I’m excited to see more about those places in future books.
And Xena made me smile. 😊
What I Didn’t Love:
I was really surprised at the way the girls behaved in the days following the events of their birthday ritual. Things go horribly wrong, and while everyone grieves differently, and while they had a LOT of things fall on their shoulders, their reactions just felt off to me.
Mercy’s relationship with her boyfriend was another thing that felt off to me. It got progressively worse, through the story (I was willing to give him a chance at the start), and not just on his part. Both of them were making choices (and that scene… yes, THAT one… ugh) that just made me cringe.
Another aspect I didn’t love was something that put a bit of a wedge between the sisters. Mercy’s feelings about Hunter’s choice of god/goddess seemed to have a basis in possible truth at the beginning. Eventually, though, I thought that the authors were going to have Mercy reimagine the focus of the prophecy to point to Kirk (her treating him like a “god”, and him calling her his “goddess”). But alas, that didn’t happen. I can understand her having the ideas she does about it, but her attack on Hunter about it was harsh. And I absolutely hated it when Hunter made the decision she did in response. Especially since I don’t believe that it’s the correct interpretation of the prophecy.
They murder/mystery part of the story has some parts that were really interesting, but other parts that I really didn’t care for. I don’t think we really learned enough about the other characters in town to miss them when they were gone. I also wish we had learned more about the other realms that the trees guarded. I was glad that we learned more about the “bad guy”, but I didn’t love being made to feel sympathy for them, then told to not see them as sympathetic. That whole thing felt a bit disjointed.
It took me a lot longer to get into “YA Reading Mode” than I thought it would. After reading so much adult content lately, the language and actions of YA characters was jarring. Eventually, I settled in, but it was a smooth transition for me. I really enjoyed previous books from these authors, so I’m hoping, hoping, hoping that now that the groundwork has been laid, the next book in the series grabs me. I love the premise for the story, and with a few kinks worked out, I think I’m really going to enjoy all of the characters. I just hope that the next book grooves with me better. I’m definitely interested in the story, and want to see what happens next.