Allen & Unwin (AU: 1st September 2012)
The Australian book industry is a bit strange. Anywhere else, the prominent blurbs would be from reputable publications (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus) or bestselling novelists in the same genre. But here, novels are blurbed by celebrities. Hugh Jackman’s quote covered a Tara Moss book. Dannii Minogue’s promo fronts Fiona Horne’s Witch.
Fiona Horne is best known as a non-fiction author specialising in modern witchcraft. She was also in a band, Def FX, who only did one song that I remember. (It was in the nineties.) Witch is her first go at fiction, a young adult novel relocating Australian teen Vania Thorn to Summerland, California, a town settled by Spiritualists. Vania makes like-minded friends who form a coven for their magical studies. In particular, they investigate the Queen’s Cross murder.
Witch‘s strength lies in the well-crafted town of Summerland, with its rich history and vivid description. The characters don’t fare nearly as well. While the author has done an admirable job of giving the narrator flaws (desires for popularity and revenge), the other players are a bit cardboard, especially the twins. Instead of having distinct personalities, they just seem to blend into one another. And the resident baddie is just too obvious; needs more complexity.