Witches of East End

Melissa De La Cruz
Witches of East End
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Release Date
June 2011
Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance

It's the beginning of summer in North Hampton, and beautiful Freya Beauchamp is celebrating her engagement to wealthy Bran Gardiner, the heir to Fair Haven and Gardiners Island. But Freya is drawn to Bran's gorgeous but unreliable brother Killian, and sparks fly when the two decide to play a dangerous game, following an ancient story of love, betrayal and tragedy that harks back to the days of Valhalla.

Witches of East End follows the Beauchamp family-the formidable matriarch Joanna and her daughters Freya and Ingrid. Freya, a sexy bartender, has a potion to cure every kind of heartache, while Ingrid, the local librarian, solves complicated domestic problems with her ability to tie magical knots. Joanna is the witch to see when modern medicine has no more answers; her powers can wake the dead. Everything seems to be going smoothly until a young girl, Molly Lancaster, goes missing after taking one of Freya's irresistible cocktails. As more of the town's residents begin disappearing, everyone seems to have the same suspects in mind: the Beauchamp women.

Fraught with love, small-town secrets, and witchcraft, Witches of East End will capture any reader who craves a page-turning, heart-stopping story of myth and magic from an author who knows how to deliver.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jun 20, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
204 people found the following review helpful
It's always interesting to see how an author used to writing for younger audiences makes the shift into "adult" books. In this specific case, I am pleased to report a very enjoyable success. This book is detailed, deftly plotted and has a mysterious leading man who is second to none.

On the very edge of Long Island, there sits a little town that you won't find on any map. The locals of North Hampton have been there for generations and love it, and those tourists who know how to find it visit with the coming of every summer. And in North Hampton live the Beauchamp women, Johanna and her two adult daughters, Ingrid, the local librarian and Freya, bartender at the local watering hole.

They live and love like all of their neighbors—Joanna, lonely for a husband she left years earlier, takes to caring for her cleaning lady's grandson, loving him as if he were her own. Ingrid is heartbroken when the local detective, who she always assumed had been pursuing her suddenly begins dating another library assistant. Freya is overjoyed with her upcoming marriage to Brad Gardiner, the first man in ages to make her feel safe and calm, but tortured by her attraction to Brad's brother Killian, who seems just as incapable of resisting Freya, regardless of his brother's happiness.

They are also all witches, prohibited by a centuries-old pact from using their magic. For generations, they have lived like all of their neighbors, but they are all about to learn that there are some things in this world that are just too important to be denied. For Joanna, it is the life of her friend's husband, which only Joanna can save from the clutches of the Afterlife. For Ingrid, it is her co-worker's agony over not being able to have children that leads her to magically treat her and the various mysterious ailments of North Hampton's residents. For Freya, her own romantic confusion leads her to unleash her talent for brewing love potions, capable of restoring any broken heart—except, perhaps, her own.

But magic has consequences, and there are strange things happening in North Hampton, violent attacks, strange illnesses and evidence that there is a power just as strong as theirs, and as evil as theirs is good. And when a young girl goes missing after taking one of Freya's potions, it seems that there is no world where the Beauchamp women are safe.

Because each chapter focuses on one of the Beauchamps in turn, we get to learn about three very different, complicated women in great detail. Joanna is the ideal maternal figure, protecting her daughters and those she loves from any and all harm, even at the risk of her own happiness. Ingrid (who has my dream job!) seems too old for her own good, shut up and cold until her magic and the influence of her sweet admirer begins to loosen the shields she has kept up for so long.

But it is Freya who I loved. She is the wild-child, always seeking adventure and always, apparently, sure of herself and her decisions in her lifetimes. But her anguish over Brad and Killian was heartbreaking, even when I was so sure which choice seemed the right one for her. I found their powers fascinating, and the freedom that came with releasing them again made me want to cheer.

But Killian. Oh, Killian. If there was no plot to this book, no magic and no mystery, simply a few hundred pages of Killian sitting and pouting in the corner at Freya's engagement party, it would be a top-notch read. Because from the moment he appeared there, I was completely hooked. At once the ideal bad-boy and the lovesick, brooding hero, Killian is damn-near perfection before even opening his mouth. And though I was worried for a time that he might be nothing more than a secondary character, all my fears were quickly dissolved. If it seems impossible that two brothers could be any more dissimilar, physically or personality-wise, just remember that nothing in this story is as it initially appears. The truth that Killian is hiding came as quite a surprise to me, and made me love him all the more for all that he was willing to endure for Freya's happiness.

In fact, a good deal of the magical elements of this story came as quite a pleasant surprise. In a genre that encourages so much creativity it seems that a lot of the same basic rules are followed in regards to the legends and origins of the characters. However, this is one of those rare finds: a story that changes the game entirely, taking its inspiration from a novel source. It takes some time to fully understand the world of the story (though all those Wagner references are pretty good clues!), as information comes from different places and only when strictly necessary, but I enjoyed the discovery.

This is a subtle and detailed book—each character, each scene, no matter how incidental it may seem, serves a purpose to the whole, and when I was finished, it was great to go back and see how each part fit into the grander story—especially when it had to do with Killian, but if you can't tell, I'm just a little biased. Though I haven't yet read any of the books in Melissa De La Cruz's young adult series, I can confidently recommend her first adult book as a winning title, and an excellent summer read.
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Interview by Bridget and Laura

Hi, Melissa, we've heard so much about WITCHES OF EAST END, especially after reading Bridget's awesome review, and we're so excited to have you here!

Q: You made your name as a Young Adult books author, so what gave you the inspiration to write a series for adults? Where did the inspiration for WITCHES OF EAST END come from?

I wanted to write about a family of women, I wanted to write about sisters, about having a complicated relationship with your mother, and once I realized it was very girl-centric, of course they had to be witches. I did some research on Gardiner Island, which is the oldest independently owned property in America – it was gifted to the family from the English crown. The family hasn't been able to maintain it (it's four hundred years old) so that sparked the idea.

Q: What was the experience like for you? Were there challenges or experiences in shifting audiences that you hadn't anticipated?

I think the main difference is in an adult novel you can linger a little more on the environment and the setting a little more, whereas in a YA novel you've got to keep things moving so that your readers don't get bored. I think adults are maybe more tolerant, although with the popularity of YA for adults, it appears everyone likes a fast-paced story. But there's really not that much difference, it's still storytelling, and to say that it's different, it's not at all.

Q: I thought the mythology from which you constructed the story was fascinating and quite different. Please tell us a little about the legends you chose.

I was in fifth grade when I got obsessed with Norse mythology, I was drawn to them because not everyone knew about them. We were learning about Greek and Roman mythology in school, but I found the Norse books on my own in the library, they were special to me. Norse mythology is very romantic, tragic, and very sad, which was very appealing.

Q: There is also a great deal of history in the book as well. Please discuss the effects that the Salem Witch Trials have on the Beauchamp Women.

I wanted to incorporate the real history of witches in America in my story, so of course the Salem Trials had to be a part of their story. I don't want to give too much away, but after Salem, things aren't the same for the Beauchamps.

Q: I loved how unique each of the three Beauchamp ladies were and how true to themselves they came to be. How did each of them develop and did they manage to surprise you at all while writing?

Yes, it was a lot of fun, mostly I wanted to write about women in different stages of their lives. Freya is very young and impulsive and she gets a bit bored and frustrated. You have this awesome power, and you can't do anything with it? I was very much thinking of how restricted the lives of women used to be – they couldn't vote, they weren't supposed to work, etc. And not being able to use your magic is like being a frustrated 50s housewife.

Ingrid is much more reserved and not able to put herself "out there" and the restriction made her more timid, whereas it made Freya wilder. They reacted to it differently.

Joanna is not your traditional mom, and neither was my mother. My mom wasn't a typical stay at home mom. She was a vice-president at Bank of America, and did a lot of mothering by phone, by nannies, and by setting an example of being a strong, independent woman. I based a lot of Joanna on her, I think, in that Joanna is a bit flummoxed by her daughters, but loves them dearly. I was surprised by how strong they were--Ingrid especially revealed this very strong backbone. She's the mouse that roared.

Q: Please tell us about the Gardiner brothers. What is it about each of them that draws Freya?

The main thing that draws Freya to Bran is that he's kind, he's a very gentle person, and I think kindness is the best quality in men (and women). It's very attractive to be with someone who cares for you. But Killian brings out the wild child in Freya, and there's something familiar about him. He excites her and that's also a huge appeal to her. She's very torn!

Q: Is North Hampton and its environs based on a specific place? How did you choose it as a setting for the story?

The story of WITCHES OF EAST END began with a longing to tell a story about life in a close- knit community, similar in fashion to Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series about small-town Botswana life. So, I created the fiction town of North Hampton. As an avid visitor of the real Hamptons in NY, I was easily able to set the stage for the book.

Q: From the beginning, it's clear that this is a different kind of paranormal story, with personal decisions and relationships changing the course of destiny. What do you see in the future for the series as each character continues to grow and develop?

We'll see the wtiches deal with all the new revelations from this book, and also how they balance their magical powers with living in an ordinary town. Yes, personal freedom versus destiny is a big theme in my books and the girls will have to choose between love and duty in the series.

Q: Who is your favorite character, or which character made the greatest impact on the story for you?

My favorite character I think is Ingrid, because she's so sheltered and timid and she's a spinster, who is the goddess of the home, but she's never made a home of her own.

Q: What is your favorite scene? Why?

The first chapter (not the prologue) is my favorite. I wrote it all in one rush, and it's pretty much unchanged from its original writing, it just flowed out of me--the relationship between the sisters, then Freya drawn to Killian... it was a lot of fun.

Q: It seems that there are quite a few secrets yet to be uncovered. Any chance you could give us a hint as to what we can expect to see in the future, especially on regards to that unbelievable epilogue?

Without giving too much away, I can say the Beachamps are forced to take sides against each other within the family because of what happened at the end of book one. :)

Q: Wow, that's certainly cryptic and mysterious, further whetting our interest. So, what's up for you in the coming months?

I have LOST IN TIME, the sixth Blue Bloods novel, coming out in September. Then I have the Blue Bloods spin-off, WOLF PACT, which I'm co-writing with my husband that comes out September 2012. Then the seventh and final novel in the Blue Bloods series comes out January 2013. And my husband and I just sold a new fantasy series, The Other Land Chronicles, to Penguin, and that comes out spring of 2013. And Hyperion bought new books in a second cycle of Blue Bloods novels, not sure when that is scheduled yet, but the Blue Bloods world does continue, which I'm very happy about.

Thanks so much for this opportunity, Melissa, and for sharing such a thoughtful, heartfelt story with all of us!
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