Posted on July 16, 2006 by Flames
Written by Yasmine Galenorn
Reviewed by Monica Valentinelli
As the modern supernatural genre swells to the point of over-saturation, it is difficult to read any new author that comes along without comparing the writer to something else. In Witchling, it’s almost impossible to think “three sisters” without thinking of the television show “Charmed” which ran for eight seasons on the Warner Brothers network. Because of a few similarities, fans of the show may find themselves scrutinizing Galenorn’s work just a little bit more to see just how alike Witchling is to Charmed. Are the three women really sisters? Yes. Are the three women empowered, fashionable and sexy? Yes. Do they always seem to come out on top even when things go wrong? Yes.
So then, is Witchling the same as Charmed? No, and here’s why.
Although Witchling is told from the point-of-view of Camille, a witch, the background information is thoroughly well thought-out. There is no “hell” per say (in this world they’re called the Subterranean Realms), there is earth and then there is Otherworld–a hodge-podge potpourri of fae, lesser demon, and other supernatural creatures. Supernatural creatures (like the dragon Smoky) do exist in the earthly realm; they’re just few and far between trying to live out somewhat normal lives. Early in the book, we’re told that the fae is somewhat of a novelty to mortals, and that is evident by some of the encounters street folk have with Camille and her sisters Menolly, a were-tabby cat, and Delilah, a vampire.
Although these sisters are only half-fae (as evident by their screwed up powers), they choose to live on the edge between reality and fantasy, which sometimes screws up the people they work with. Take Chase for example; he’s a human male working for the Otherworldly Intelligence Agency (OIA). Although you may think he’s in charge, it’s pretty evident that Camille and her sisters won’t listen to him, even though they respect his position and what he’s done. Throughout the novel, he serves as a bit of contrast to exercise shock and fear at events that Camille and her fae counterparts take for granted. While it does show how otherworldly the demons, vampires, shapeshifters, dragons, fox spirits, gargoyles and other entities really are, telling this story from Camille’s point-of-view tends to overpower the mystery and sequence events at times because her personality is so compelling and forceful that the main characters don’t show a lot of fear. The lack of fear, unfortunately, works for and against Camille and her sisters. We see them as the supernatural trio that they are; we take the threat to the realms a little less seriously because even with so-so powers that mess up “some of the time” Camille is still an extremely powerful witch.
The novel begins with a grisly murder–Jocko, a friendly giant–and a mystery. Shadow Wing, a powerful demon from the Subterranean Realms is bent on using magical seals to conquer Earth–and Otherworld is next on the list. Otherworld is in disarray and is wholly unprepared for an attack; a gluttonous Queen throws her fae kingdom into civil unrest to the point that the OIA is on its own. Camille and her sisters follow the dark clues, along the way they meet some interesting characters. Grandmother Coyote, Galenorn’s version of one of the three Greek fates, will offer Camille help–at a price. Trillian, a Svartan, is Camille’s lover (of sorts), Morio, a fox spirit, completes the love triangle although he originally came into the picture to offer assistance rather than show his affections for the shapely dark-haired witch. The evil are…evil to a fault. Harpies, insane wood sprites, and deadly beasts seem to be more plot devices than actual horrors because this novel takes on the enormous task of introducing the reader to Camille D’Artigo’s world, a story arc that spans multiple books, and seeing it all through the eyes of a half-fae witchling so charming she entertains several suitors. So, it should come as no surprise that the ending is somewhat anti-climatic but still satisfying. Early in the book, we expect the group to win the day in the final showdown against Bad Ass Luke, Shadow Wing’s representative, and we know that they’ll do it with style.
Camille is a wicked delight whose personality is the way it is because she isn’t fully human. The affairs she has are justified due to her fae charm, and are even explained in the book that sex is part of her character. She’s arrogant, bold, seductive, and unapologetic–even when her powers don’t work as she would have expected them to–but she needs to be. Not too much emphasis is placed on how Camille sees her other sisters, although we do see the challenges Delilah and Menolly both have in their own way. Camille’s “weakness” appears to be Trillian, a darker fae creature not used to rejection. Even though she gives in, she does retain a sense of self. Her personality is stronger than most women we’ve seen, but her confidence adds to her mystique in a setting where many humans regard her as a trophy to be put on display and admired.
Witchling is a book that will appeal to the curious and the naughty. While I would not recommend this book for immature audiences, there are enough visuals and modern conventions that Witchling is worth a read. This is a book to pick up just after sunset when the summer wind is blowing and you’re tired from the day. It is delightful and, even though I, myself, would have preferred to see more contrast and suspense, I can’t help but wonder if the next book will flesh out more of the D’Artigo sisters’ characters and sinister plot in such a way that we’ll get sucked further in to Galenorn’s world.