Hi there! Today I am thrilled to share the love for WATCH ME BURN, the second book in the December People series from Sharon Bayliss. I reviewed the first book, DESTRUCTION last spring, and was intrigued by this contemporary witchcraft fantasy series.
His resolve is tested when a flyer for a missing girl–who happens to be a summer witch–begins to haunt him. David believes a spell needs to use him to save her, so he follows the magic’s command and looks into her disappearance. His teenage daughter Emmy resents him for caring so much about a random stranger. But when she uncovers some disturbing evidence close to home, she begins an investigation of her own.
David and Emmy quickly learn that the mystery is not only about a missing girl they barely know, but a deeply personal story that impacts everyone they care about. As their world crumbles, they fear the warning may be true—never mess with summer wizards, because the good guys always win.
David Vandergraff is the head of a family of Winter witches. He doesn’t wish to be, but he is anyway. In this world, where one falls on the magical calendar determines the type of magic one will have. So, if a witch’s “date” is near the summer solstice, he (or she) will have summer magic, and be able to wield the power of light and goodness. Witches with a date nearer the winter solstice will have dark magic–which yields destructive powers. Winter and Summer witches are diametrically opposed, and have a serious battle between them. Meanwhile, witches whose dates fall between solstices, Equinox witches, can wield both light and dark magic.
David’s family consists of his wife Amanda, sons Jude, Patrick, Xavier and daughters Emmy and Evangeline. Xavier and Evangeline were from a different mother, and they suffered horrific abuse from their dark witch stepfather before David recovered them, nearly destroyed his marriage by revealing his infidelity–all of which happened in the first book.
Now, Jude is long gone–consumed by darkness enough that he raped a fellow witch: his sister’s best friend. He’s not COMPLETELY gone, however, because Amanda has been healing his darkness, taking it into herself at great cost to her own health. I can relate–a mother’s love is a strong and powerful force, much like magic.
David is somehow caught in a compulsion spell, one to bring home a missing summer witch. Julie has been gone two weeks, and David is consumed with finding her–and this brings both Emmy and Patrick into the hunt, involuntarily. Emmy knew Julie from volleyball camp, and hated her long before she understood about the animosity between summer and winter witches. It seems they have a physical reaction to each other. Emmy is a resourceful gal, even if she isn’t a powerful witch and feels likewise compelled to find Julie. Patrick is experiencing many disturbing visions of a tortured Julie, and his own role in possibly saving her.
In her searches, Emmy encounters Nathan, Julie’s older brother. He’s searching the forest where Julie went missing relentlessly, but he knows he’ll never find her. There is a strong confounding spell protecting the area, only allowing the access of witches who meet certain criteria. Emmy isn’t taken, either, and Nathan knows it is because the person who has Julie only wants witches who date on the Four Events: Summer Solstice, Winter Solstice, and the Vernal and Autumnal equinoxes. Julie was a Summer Solstice witch–and it made her summer magic powerful. With each Event the captor collects, he (or she) gains immense power.
The rescue of Julie is confounded–and David is struggling to keep his family together–when one of his children goes missing in the forest, too. And Amanda’s failing health seems to be at the heart of some of this problem. Nathan and Emmy join forces in the search, and they become close to each other in a way no one wishes, or predicts. Julie and Nathan’s summer witch family are relentless in their pursuit of the winter Vandergraff’s–wanting to destroy the winter witches, thinking it will protect their family and save Julie. They have succeeded in some destruction, but as Emmy tells Nathan, just because her family is “dark” doesn’t mean they are bad people.
This is a truth Nathan respects; his own family is light—and he knows for a fact they aren’t good.
I really love how this story is unfolding. It’s multi-layered with lots of twists, and significant moral gray areas. So many moral dilemmas: is it okay to kill innocents to protect those you love? Can one trust the visions of magic? What are the bounds of family, when power is the ultimate objective? Can good ends ever justify evil means? It’s fascinating, and deep, with good pacing and enough mystery to keep the series cracking along. The end is a good stopping point, but it’s clear there will be no peace between these two families, and that their conflict between them is only getting stronger.
Interested? WATCH ME BURN releases January 5th, but you can find it on GOODREADS and pre-order it on AMAZON. If you’re new to The December People Series, start with Destruction—99 cents for a limited time!
Catch my review here!
Just leave me a comment telling me if you’re interested in reading this cool series and which book you’d like. I’ll choose a winner from comments logged before Jan 1st. International entries welcome.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
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.