Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.
I didn’t know I’d like this book so much! I mean, it starts out with an adulterous husband, David, learning that his teenage kids have been found. Kids he hadn’t known–not since their mother had disappeared. And, I mean that literally. She was a witch. Now dead, their children Evangeline and Xavier were recovered, not completely intact. Part of their wizard stepfather’s rituals had included rape…of both of them.
Bringing his lover’s kids home is sure to destroy his marriage–and it does. Amanda is furious, but takes the children in knowing they have no other prospects. David’s other children–Jude, Patrick, and Emmy–want nothing to do with David or their strange half-siblings. Evangeline believes herself a witch, for crying out loud! And Xavier says virtually nothing to anyone.
This family has more than just infidelity issues, however. Because, it turns out Evangeline is right–she is a witch. In fact, the whole family is magical–and not in a good way. Amanda had long ago, without David’s knowledge, stripped the painful memories of his childhood–including his knowledge of magic.
Amanda knew they were dark witches, and wanted to keep her family safe from the destructive magic they controlled by ensuring no one ever practiced. Not so easy when you bring home two magical children. Now all David’s children are practicing, on the down-low against Amanda’s wishes.
But it seems here’s a lot more going on in this family. The darkness is taking over Jude, and pitting brother against brother–particularly when Jude attacks Patrick’s girlfriend. To save his family, David must embrace the magic within and surrounding him. And, when he learns Evangeline and Xavier’s stepfather may not have been killed, well, it kicks off the biggest crisis of the book.
I must say, I was captivated by the story. The magic within is very subtle, and bears plenty of repercussions–being Winter People, David’s family can’t help but channel the destructive type of magic. Even simple spells with good intentions turn out to be horrible. You want to help someone? They get helped, but at another’s expense.
It’s diabolical, really. I wanted to hate David. He’s a weak man who carried on an affair for years–and yet, it’s impossible to hate him. His personal and professional lives are crumbling. Many men might walk away–and he refuses. He does his best to be the stand-up guy and strikes a bargain with Amanda to co-habitate and raise the kids together–even when all the magic becomes real and he’s completely rudderless.
Amanda is not a great person, because she’s so damned real. She’s a harried, frustrated, angry woman in a situation she never expected to be: supporting a man and his five children, though she only gave birth to three of them. Oh, and practicing magic again to contain her magic-infused charges–something she swore she would never do. Her whole world bottomed out the day those kids showed up at her doorstep, but she fought hard to keep her self, and her family, together. I had to love her passion for those kids and really respected how she handled David’s betrayal.
The book just kept moving, the plot getting darker and murkier–much like the magic. Don’t expect to see a lot of binding spells or fire incantations. This is a subtle magic, which I think made it more approachable. It’s a standalone book, and the first in a series. Several directions for other books to pick up this families trials, however.
Clearly Jude’s burgeoning darkness will be a huge part of future stories. And the day-to-day trials of choosing to use, or not use, magic will play out. The family clearly is divided on that issue. I look forward to other books in the series.
Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.