The Short Version: Jane Boyle has uncovered just how evil her former mother-in-law, Lynne Doran, actually is – she’s the newest incarnation of the evil daughter of the First Witch. It’s a race against time to stop Hasina (that spirit) from transferring to a new body – one that’s likely to go on a massive magical killing spree…
The Review: I wonder, a little, if these three books could’ve been combined to make one novel in three parts. Because, like so many trilogies, they each feel incomplete without the others – but they also, unlike many trilogies, are short enough that you wonder why they couldn’t have just wrapped it all up in a really excellent single package. Just a thought – although one I’ll lean more heavily on if this does end up being the last book in the series. Genuinely hope that it isn’t, by the way – even if only so that Amanda Kain’s original cover art returns to do away with the absolutely horrendous (and defunct-before-it-came-out) TV tie-in art.
Actually, before I go on, a quick open letter to William Morrow and publishers everywhere: is literature really still tied so closely to other forms of media that we have to do this? Movie tie-ins are one thing, I guess – it’s a single story and you want people to see that original story – but when you’ve got a TV show based off a series, at least give us something artistic on the cover instead of taking something delightfully unique (see: the original covers) and forcibly sticking it into the most ordinary and boring track possible. I mean, I would not have ever picked up this series had it not been for those original covers – and it bothers me to have this eyesore on my shelf. Anyway…
It’s been more than a year since I read The Dark Glamour and I admit I’d forgotten (or filed away, anyway) many of the salient details. I knew hubby Malcolm had fled, I knew Jane had tried to infiltrate the Doran family manse one more time, I knew there was some illicit lovin’, and that Lynne was evil – but that’s pretty much it. So I was grateful to Ms. Pierce for doing something that so few authors feel necessary but really ends up being a lovely favor: she works some catch-up summary into the first 25 pages or so. If you were reading the series back-to-back, it might be a little bothersome… but for the most part, I was thrilled to be gently reminded of what had happened and why it mattered. Especially considering that this book was heavy on the action and pretty light on the exposition, comparatively.
That doesn’t mean it’s action-packed, of course – but the big showdown you get set for takes place pretty early on, meaning there’s still going to be a whole heck of a lot happening that you maybe weren’t quite ready for. It’s a pleasant reversal, an instance of the author saying “I know that you know what’s coming – but I’m going to get it out of the way and keep you even a little bit on your toes”. Still, the action scenes in this one are just as guilty-pleasure-y as those in the first two novels.
We learn more about witches and witch society/history here, too – we get a whole lot of backstory crammed into a few pages, really (I said light on exposition, not lacking), and that’s the one (well, one of two) moments that gives me hope the series will continue. Oh, the backstory isn’t exactly original – definitely takes some inspiration from the Anne Rice vampire backstory, for example – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. And just because the final showdown with the Big Bad comes about (that isn’t really a spoiler), that doesn’t mean that the series needs to end. Just look at… any good TV series (sorry, I’m crossing the streams a bit, aren’t I?).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5. As in any good third-book-in-a-trilogy, the characters mature a little more and there are some losses, big ones. Everything feels, at times, a bit paint-by-numbers – but this is also easily the best of the three books so far, so I’m willing to forgive that. It’s still not much more than a good guilty pleasure, great for springtime really, but let’s give credit where credit is due: a good guilty pleasure isn’t always easy to find.