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
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
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.

About Amber Benson

Amber Benson co-wrote and directed the animated web-series Ghosts of Albion with Christopher Golden for the BBC. The duo then novelized the series in two books for Random House. Her first solo novel, Death’s Daughter, was published by Penguin in 2009, with a children’s book for Simon and Schuster called The New Newbridge Academy to follow in the fall of 2010. As an actress, Benson spent three seasons as Tara Maclay on the cult show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She has also written, produced, and directed three feature films, including her latest, Drones, which she co-directed with Adam Busch and will be released later this year.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat...Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  1. 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • 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…

  2. 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.

    Melanie Simmons recently posted: Best Audiobook Narrations of 2014 (My Choices)
    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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.

    • 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • 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!

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  5. 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

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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

    • 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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • 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.

  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!

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: **#COYER Review ~ Seven Sons ~ LIli St. Germain**
    • 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.

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  9. 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

    • kimbacaffeinate

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

  10. 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 🙂

    • kimbacaffeinate

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