September 21, 2012

Review: Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft by Jody Gehrman

Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft by Jody Gehrman
Published: 2012, Magie Genie Books
Series: Audrey's Guides, #1
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Paranormal
Source: Ebook for review
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Sometimes knowledge is power, and sometimes it's a deadly liability.

When Jody Gehrman contacted me about reviewing her book, I was excited to have the opportunity to read something different. I haven't read YA novels that feature actual high school students or that are about witches for a while now. I'm far enough removed from high school that I really don't care about the petty school drama and teenage angst associated with it. As for witch books, are there really that many even out there anymore? I am definitely a high fantasy fan, but I need to mix up the genres I read every once in a while, and Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft provided a great way to switch things up with something else I enjoyed reading.

Audrey believes that she's in for another typical day of high school until a feeling of unease begins to penetrate her thoughts. For reasons she can't explain, she knows that her mother has disappeared; she sees this mysterious face and haunting blue eyes all over; and she hurts the school's resident mean girl without lifting a finger. Audrey's fears about her mother are confirmed and she learns something even more unexpected: her mother is a witch and so is she. And powerful witches at that. Her mother's "family," a clan up north, needs to borrow her mother's considerable talents to defeat a sorcerer, and so Sadie, a young witch, comes to stay with sisters Audrey and Meg. Once Sadie discovers Audrey's power, she hesitantly consents to train Audrey. Although her mother is still missing, Audrey's life starts to improve as she embraces her inner powers, finds love, and plans on doing whatever it takes to help her mother defeat this mysterious enemy.

The strongest aspect of this book is definitely Audrey's relationships with others. I think that Gehrman paints a realistic portrayal of teen sisters, jealousy and all. Despite the drama and petty annoyances she has with Meg, it's clear that Audrey will do anything to protect her younger sister. And although their mother is absent for most of the book, the relationship between the mother and her two daughters also plays a large role in the story. Most of Audrey's decisions stem from her doing whatever she thinks will help out her mother. Lots of times teenagers go through phases where they believe their parents do not understand them, so it was refreshing to see how this book presented a teen girl's strong relationship with her mother. Besides her strong family bonds, I loved reading about Audrey's friendship with her best friend Bridget and the gradual friendship that forms between Audrey and her witch "cousin" Sadie. In fact, the vast majority of relationships that influence Audrey are formed through strong female bonds, which is awesome. Who doesn't love reading about that?

Of course I also enjoyed Audrey's relationship with Julian. While it isn't quite insta-love, there is a sense of insta-connection. Sadie hints at possible meanings behind Audrey and Julian's connection, so I feel sure that this topic will be something explored in future novels. I've just been very jaded recently when it comes to romance in YA books, but Audrey and Julian have a solid relationship. Julian cannot offer the same support to Audrey that the female influences do, but he is still the kind of boyfriend that all protagonists struggling with paranormal secrets should have; for the most part he's completely accepting of Audrey's inability to divulge her secrets, and he is genuinely a good guy who cares for her safety. I'd like a little more character development on his end, but for the first book in a series I was content.

I liked the idea of Audrey making lists of important things in her life. The idea fits well with Audrey's two main interests in life, baking and chemistry, which both are very list- and detail-oriented. I think the inclusion of a few recipes and how-to guides was great (and on a similar note I enjoyed how the story ended - it felt circular and so right). I do wish that this theme could have been expanded even more. There are only about five lists throughout the entire novel, unfortunately. I wanted more recipes and spells. So I hope we'll get more details of those in future novels as well. 

In terms of conflict, I found the overarching villain-initiated conflict could have been a bit stronger. Even though the villain does try to explain his plans for world control to Audrey, I didn't really understand his motivation behind his actions. And after Audrey has seen so many creepy messages and images, I felt the final showdown was anticlimactic, although it definitely leaves the book open for series potential. I actually found myself more drawn to Audrey's internal struggles. I love a character who struggles with identity issues and seeks to find a sense of purpose. I considered this to be at the heart of this story and it had far more effect on me as a reader and Audrey's characterization than the actual villain showdown does.

I found myself to be pleasantly surprised by this book. Because the YA paranormal romance market has become so flooded with books over the past few years, Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft suffers from a few clichés here and there. Those clichés, however, did not detract from my enjoyment of reading this solid and well-written contribution to YA witch/paranormal books. Because the book is part of a series, Gehrman did leave a number of things open and I am eager to see how the story continues. This is a light and fun read, yet Gehrman is also able to bring up some important questions about family and self-discovery.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, Jody!
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. Yay! I'm so glad you liked this one, Amanda! I read this awhile back and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it as well. I agree with you on all your points - the villainous-show-down could have been stronger, the romance was original and cute, the relationships were deep and thoughtful - in other words, we practically had all the same thoughts! I'm really looking forward to the sequel now!(: Fantastic review, Amanda! It was very well-written!

    Ivy Book Bindings

    1. Aw thank you! I remember reading your review months back, Keertana! Perhaps it resonated with me some, but that's good to know that others had similar interpretations to mine. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I came to enjoy the book and its strong writing.


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