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Books 129-130: The Secret Circle Trilogy by L. J. Smith

OK it is technically a trilogy but my copies came bundled together containing 1.5 novels each so I am only counting as two books.

Book 129: The Initiation and The Captive Part I (The Secret Circle #1-2).
Author: L. J. Smith, 1992.
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance. Wicca/Witchcraft
Other Details: 2010 Paperback edition. 319 pages.

Sixteen-year old Cassie Blake has been living in California with her mother. While on summer holiday in New England, her mother advises that they will be returning to her birthplace of New Salem as Cassie's grandmother is sick. This follows Cassie having an encounter at the beach with a mysterious boy. Enrolling at New Salem's local high school, Cassie comes into contact with a group of students who set themselves apart from the locals and identify themselves as witches. When Cassie discovers that her own family is part of the same lineage she reluctantly becomes part of the coven.

The first book ends with Cassie's admittance to the Circle and the second focuses on her tumultuous relationship with Faye Chamberlain, whose main ambition is to depose the current leader of the coven, her cousin Diana Meade. There is a nice dynamic between Cassie and the more experienced witches with Diana very much taking on the role of her namesake and Faye representing the sexier and more dangerous enchantress figure as found in legendary figures such as Morgan le Faye.

Book 130: The Captive, Part II and The Power (The Secret Circle #2-3) .
Author: L. J. Smith, 1992.
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance. Wicca/Witchcraft
Other Details: 2010 Paperback edition. 415 pages.

The Captive ended in my bundled edition at a very exiting cliff-hanger and so I immediately began the second volume. Without giving too much away about the plot, in the second and third books the adults of the town come more into play as well as a group of external witch hunters, who were introduced at the opening fn The Initiation when Cassie and her mother were on holiday in prior to the move to New Salem.

I've reviewed a number of books that feature teenage witches (and sometimes older ones) and found myself dissatisfied at the 'nose twitching' factor. That is, the magic shown is very physical and not at all subtle in terms of inner experiences. Of course, there needs to be some fantasy elements but it is a matter of degree. To date the best I had found was Cate Tiernan's Sweep/Wicca series until I opened The Secret Circle . Both writers have have compelling heroines, who are not ruling the universe after reading a few pages of a Book of Shadows. They may be gifted or natural witches with a birth-right but they are also beginners on a journey of self-discovery as women and witches.

These early books of L. J. Smith's are very tightly written and I do wish that she would return to this style over the more padded one that Stephanie Meyer appears to have made fashionable. I also really liked that in contrast to the TV adaptation, the coven has 13 members.
Tags: pagan, paranormal, wicca, witchcraft, young adult
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