G'day Scribblers and Book Bandits,
On the blog today, we have a book review of Audrey's Guide to Witchcraft by Jody Gehrman. I know what you're thinking (maybe): Why is Christy reading a guide to witchcraft? Firstly, because this is a novel. It is a cutesy work of fiction, in which the protagonist uses her blossoming witchy powers to defeat evil. Secondly, because the author taught my very first Creative Writing course over at Mendocino College. (She also teaches a few other courses.) She has written seven books and numerous plays. If you'd like to find out more about Jody, you can check out her adorable website. Audrey's Guide is Jody's first self-published book. It is also the first self-published book I've ever read. The third reason I reviewed this book is because Jody honored me by providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review :)
And now, on to said review:
Audrey, until now a very normal teenager, knows from the first sentence of the book that her mother is in danger. But, she wonders, how does she "just know"? Turns out, her "witchy powers" have come to fruition! Better late than never? Not! As trouble mounts up, making her feel responsible, she soon wishes she had never found out about magic. Some freaky stranger is threatening her, on top of her other worries. Where is her mother? And how does Audrey fit into this picture?
Before reading this book, I wondered whether I would feel secure in reading a self-published book. Would I feel like I was in the hands of an experience storyteller? Well, Jody Gehrman pulled it off! 2 points! There was definite skill in her craft, enough that I was not scared to continue reading.
This book was like candy, as opposed to a hearty meal: pure fun (and it was fun), but containing very little meat or nutritional value. I didn’t learn from it, but I did enjoy the story. I think Jody’s purpose was to write a fun book, though, so I was not expecting much in the edification department. I expected fun, and I got fun.
The story arc of this book was good. I like the plot! I reallyreally wanted the end to resolve the conflict; but Jody was smarter. She left just enough hanging that I wish I had the sequel in my hands right now.
Naturally, in a book written for teen girls, there was a romantic angle. I liked Julian, if he was a bit flat. I loved the twists in Audrey's and Julian's relationship—especially the memory loss, precious and original to Audrey’s Guide. I admired the author for resisting to heap on the sexual humor. Such humor is often distasteful; conversely, I greatly enjoyed Audrey’s sweet, bubbly humor. I only mention this because a past book of Jody's did have some.
My complaint about plot: in several tight situations, Audrey uses some humorous, lucky method to win the day, while the bad guy often makes some absurd oversight. For boys, it would be unacceptable. For Jody Gehrman’s audience (girl readers), it is excusable.
As far as morality, my spirit says "Eh." There's good and there's evil. I disagree with some of what the "good" side says. Of course, that happens with every book. There is a sort of Christian presence in this book, which surprised me. I enjoyed the character of Bridgit (Audrey's sweet BFF) to some degree, but she doesn't act like an authentic Christian. Her parents are those horrid legalistic type. Unfortunately, there are some of those in the world. I felt they were portrayed a bit stereotypically, however. I hate saying that about a book, but it's true.
There was quite a bit of light cursing. Nothing terribly vulgar, just the usual stupid teenager type. It was annoying rather than off-putting.
Overall, I give this book a 3.5. I liked it for the story, and I’ll still read the sequel.
Thanks, Jody, for the review copy! I hope my review was honest and up to your standards.