The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson

January 6th, 2015 Kimberly Review 74 Comments

6th Jan
The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
The Witches of Echo Park
by Amber Benson
Series: The Witches of Echo Park #1
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
Rating: One StarOne StarOne Star

From beloved author, director, and actress, Amber Benson…Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…  When Elyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her. Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian estate; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…

The Witches of Echo Park is the first in an urban fantasy series by Amber Benson. The tale unfolds in Los Angeles and introduces us to a unique cast of female witches and a plot to eliminate them all. Spells, ghosts, threats and a unique coven drew me in.  While at times it felt like young adult, I am very curious to see how it unfolds.

Caffeinated Aspects:

  • The Witches of Echo Park has secret covens, a premonition foretold, a dying great-aunt and a protagonist who knows none of their secrets. Death, secrets, evil and more are weaved into the story. The tale takes place in Echo Park. It is one of many places on Earth where magic flows. The premise is interesting with secret societies and a great evil referred to as the Flood.
  • The characters particular the witches are quite interesting and each unique. Lyse MacAllister was saved by her great-aunt Eleanora. She is gravely ill and Lyse leaves Georgia to be with her. She learns her aunt is a witch when she is asked to take part in a ritual to join the coven. One member named Dev, is a card reader and something more. Weir, is a young man Lyse is drawn too. I am curious to see how his role develops. Lizbeth, is a young woman damaged by the past who does not speak but may hold the key. Daniela is an empathy, who wears gloves even in the middle of summer. She loves her children and takes pride in a strange wreath. Arrabelle is an herbalist who mixes all sorts of concoctions. Hessika was the woman who saved Eleanora but is no more. There are villains and more throughout the novel.
  • Blood spells, horned Gods and other interesting tid-bits like flashbacks from Eleanora’s life were interesting and kept me engaged. The plot moves slowly as Benson fleshes out the world and gives us some background regarding the characters.
  • There is a romance albeit a weird one and I am expecting a little witchy reasoning behind it all. No insta-love or triangles but I would call this insta-lust. The romance stayed firmly in the background without much movement.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

  • We know an evil is coming but we do not learn very much about the Flood, despite many references to it. Lyse is very new to the coven and aside from vivid dreams we do not yet know her role.
  • The Witches of Echo Park despite a unique cast of characters, and premise did not move forward and felt more like an introduction.
  • As unique, as each character was I learned nothing about them. I am hoping we see more development in the next book.
  • Cast in the adult genre, the story had a young adult vibe to it. Aside from a sexual ritual and the occasional swear word the main protagonist felt like a teen, as did Lizbeth.
  • I was never bored while reading this but I never became completely lost in it either. I will try the next book in the series before deciding whether to continue.

The Witched of Echo Park offered a unique cast of characters and I am curious to see how the series develops.

Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

74 Responses to “The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson”

  1. angela carr

    I contemplated on this book but the cover looked YA. but you mentioned a “sexual ritual”….intrigued. =) great review.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes, one scene a few paragraphs in length and some language are the only think not YA about it

  2. Diamond

    Interesting that it has a YA feel. I kinda thought when I saw the cover it was YA. I love Amber Benson, but have only read her comics that she writes sometimes for Buffy graphic novels. I’m gonna try this one, it’s on my TBR but I have heard mixed things! I guess you liked it enough to be open to the sequel and it seems like there were positive things about it.
    Great review! 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really hope you enjoy it Diamond, aspects were promising 🙂

  3. Mary

    TOO MANY CHARACTERS’ POVs!! It was a 3-star read for me, too. Potential…but this one just didn’t work.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yes…we met them but know next to nothing about them..and the YA vibe was just weird.

  4. Lark

    Even the cover looks YA; I thought it was YA until I read the blurb. I’m sorry some aspects just didn’t come together for you, but you’ve written a well-balanced review that shares both the good and the bad. I think, given the mammoth TBR list I already have, that I’ll wait and see if the second book picks up, before deciding to read the series.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Lark, it wasn’t horrible it just didn’t completely work either

  5. Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

    I was so hoping you would rave about this one! Witches and that lovely cover with the black cat! Now this is a series that I really wanted to add to my wishlist. I’ll wait now to see what you think of book 2 though…

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I really wanted to love it. Fingers crossed book two delivers

  6. Verushka

    Amber Benson! I’d forgotten she’d written books too, so I’d ebe curious to know how the next one goes. This sort of reminded me of the Witches of Eastwick a little too.

  7. Karen

    Some first books are more intro than plot. Too bad but maybe it will take a little while to build.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Very true which is what kept me on the fence about it. I will give book two a try.

  8. Bookworm Brandee

    I thought the author’s name sounded familiar…yep, I’m a Buffy fan. 🙂 I’m glad this one gave you enough to want to continue with the series. It does sound interesting even if this installment serves as more of an introduction than anything else. I hope the second installment really gets to the meat of the story!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      That is my hope Brandee and I will give it one more go, since so many UF series I love started off meh for me.

  9. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    I only just started this and I’m really enjoying it so far, but it does feel more like YA. Plus, the name Lyse is confusing me, I have no idea how to pronounce that! I’m hoping this will end up being a decent new UF series, i really need one of those.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It wasn’t bad, and like I said I was never bored it just didn’t wow me either. The YA vibe is weird.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I would have liked a little more fleshing out, especially since there was very little movement.

  10. Bea

    Hmmm, I was excited about this book but your review has me rethinking. Maybe I’ll see if the library has it.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Either that or wait for reviews of book two. It just didn’t completely work for me..but I know some folks loved it

  11. Rashika

    It’s a witch book so it definitely has my attention but I am sad to hear that the book was a little slow and that the world building wasn’t as strong. :/ That makes me feel less encouraged to pick up the book since I find slow UF books hard to read 🙁

    I am glad you enjoyed this though!

    Lovely review, Kimba! 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I would hold off to see what reviews of book two bring

  12. Sophia Rose

    Hmm, sounds like its suffering as the first book trying to introduce everything with the action plot waiting for the intro, but not quite hitting that mark either.

  13. Adriana

    Wow, I was just talking about this book. I entered a giveaway and everything.
    I don;t mind a young adult vibe although it should be marked as such. I think the whole sex ritual played a role into that. I hope that’s a small part of the book :/
    I’m still pretty interested on how I would feel about the book if I get a chance to read it but I’m a little wary of it now given it felt like an introduction.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Very small, and honestly that was the only thing that made it not YA. Some of the characters feel 16.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Thanks Sharon, I tend to like them and will wait and see how this series develops.

  14. Lorna

    I read this and stayed interested but it did have problems, I agree. I rewrote the review because I realized I was telling nothing but problems, and at the end of the day I did enjoy the read. I told Carmel that I went back and forth between 3.5 and 4 and picked 4, but it was an iffy 4. So yes I agree with a lot of what you wrote! Maybe it’s just first book setting up a series syndrome 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

      If this was YA, I think I may have given it a 3.5. I am curious as to what book two holds.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      If the situation were reversed that is exactly what I would do

  15. ShootingStarsMag

    I think the cover kind of screams YA too; though I do love the cover! Thanks for sharing the good and bad points on this one. It sounds like a nice start.


  16. Candace

    I have only heard so-so things about her other UF series but I didn’t know she had a new one. This one actually sounds quite good and I love Amber Bensen as an actress. I’ll have to try this one at some point.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It had aspects I enjoyed Candace I am just not sure yet

  17. Braine Talk Supe

    THAT’S why she looked familiar, she’s Tara on Buffy!!

    Now I did skip this because it looked and sounded like YA and it gave me a kitschy vibe. I hope it develops in book 2, horned gods and all that jazz sounds very interesting.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      The premise and foundation is fingers crossed. We need to lose the YA vibe though.

  18. Heidi

    Hmm… I am reading some mixed things on this one. I was excited to try it, but now I am not so much. I think it has a strong premise but from what I am reading it lacks good execution. I think I will hold off on this for now.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I think that is what I would recommend, wait for reviews of book two.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Hey at this point it is anyone’s guess. I mean look at the Kate Daniels series book one was a 3 for me and the rest of the series blew my mind!

  19. kindlemom1

    Lorna reviewed this today as well and really liked it. I love anything that has to do with witches so even though this isn’t without its flaws, I still really think I want to give this series a try.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am glad to hear that, and I loved just didn’t wow me as a whole.

  20. Stormi

    I have seen this one around and it seems the reviews are a bit mixed..I sort of want to read it but I might wait on it.

  21. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I am intrigued by settings, and the Echo Park area of LA seems to promise lots of quirkiness and a high weirdness quotient…so I want to know more! Thanks for sharing.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      There was a lot I liked sadly it just didn’t grab me enough Laurel but sometimes book one is meh and then I fall in love with the series.

  22. Miriam

    Another “it’s okay” review. I’m curious about this book (because… well… it’s Amber Benson!) but it doesn’t sound like I”ll be blown away by it.

    Also, your caffeinated/ decaffeinated review structure had me completely confused for a moment. (Have you been doing that for a while? I must be blind.) Although eventually I remembered the theme of your blog and was like, oh, pros and cons… now it makes sense…

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I use a variety of review styles from espresso reviews to breakdowns. This style works when a book isn’t a four or more. hehe..yeah I have used caffeinated/decaffeinated for a while. Yeah it is the coffee theme.

  23. Nick

    That is one cute cover! I love how it’s so colorful.
    I don’t know if this book would be for me. It seems like nothing much happens in it and I usually struggle with books that feel like introductions. I’ll wait and see what you think of the sequels before jumping on this series.
    Great review, Kim!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      very little development..and I will try book two for ya 🙂

  24. Melanie Simmons

    I’m a very character driven person. If I don’t like the characters, I can’t seem to get into the book, movie, tv show. If the characters aren’t well developed, I don’t think I would like them. It does look like an interesting book and maybe once book two comes out it will be better. I try not to judge too harshly on book one of a series. I like to give it at least two books, if there is anything at all I like about it.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      I am the same way Melanie..there was enough there that I can see the potential.

  25. Debbie Haupt

    Kim from the cover I thought it was YA. Great informative chat about the yays and the nays. I think I’ll take a pass on this even though it’s right up my genre alley.

    • Susan Stokes

      Same here Deb.Put it on GR’s a few days ago.. But passing bc Kimberly is honest and I would be disappointed…

  26. Lauren

    Hmm this sounds like a series I should start when book two is out. I love Amber Benson, so I’m definitely going to give the series a try, but I’d like more fleshed out story than just a first book that feels like a setup to the series. Thanks for your thoughtful review!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      That is why I will give book two ago. I mean look at Kate one was meh.

  27. Faye

    Heh, the cover is seriously giving me the Sabrina the Teenage Witch vibes, especially with that darn-cute cat next to her. I’m kinda wary of Witches now because I’m tired of them (and most of what I read about them don’t show their ferocity but more of their fluff with magic potions and frog candy and whatnot), so I’ll wait for your thoughts of the next book (if you’ll read them) before deciding 😀

    • kimbacaffeinate

      It does look like that Faye. Since this is a series I will try one more book before deciding.

  28. Alreem

    hey this book looks so good, I love the cover and I like witches 🙂 is this YA or adult book, lovely review

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Alreem as I said it is adult but reads like YA expect for language and one ritual.

  29. Melliane

    I was really curious about this one by the cover that I really loved but in the end for now the reviews aren’t that good so I’m not sure I’ll try… Sorry it wasn’t more.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      Yeah…it just didn’t come together enough for me, yet I liked aspects