on November 24th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Published by Kensington
Setting: Canary Islands
Chinese-American assistant professor Eileen Chen specializes in folk religion at her San Francisco college. Though her grandmother made her living as a shamaness, Eileen publicly dismisses witchcraft as mere superstition. Yet privately, the subject intrigues her.
When a research project takes her to the Canary Islands—long rumored to be home to real witches—Eileen is struck by the lush beauty of Tenerife and its blend of Spanish and Moroccan culture. A stranger invites her to a local market where women sell amulets, charms, and love spells. But as she learns more about the lives of these self-proclaimed witches, Eileen must choose how much trust to place in this new and seductive world, where love, greed, and vengeance can be as powerful, or as destructive, as any magic.
I loved the synopsis of this book. A religion professor finding out that she is a shamaness in the Chinese tradition and then meeting up with witches from another tradition? Yes, please.
It starts out delightfully creepy. She is starting to have visions of the spirit world. She meets a coven of witches who bring her into a ritual and abandon her naked the next day and she doesn’t remember what happened. A horse takes her for a ride to meet a mysterious sculptor.
But then it turns into a murder mystery. Yeah, didn’t see that coming.
I lost a lot of interest at this point. The weirdness was gone. She still talks to ghosts but they just want her solve the mystery. Also, suddenly every man is falling in love with her and wants to marry her the moment they meet her. This isn’t even based on romance or attraction or anything. They just suggest getting married.
I wish there had been a better sense of place. She went to a culture that is unfamiliar to her but she is conveniently fluent in Spanish so she has no communication difficulties. She doesn’t really explore the islands. She holes up in a castle and in an abandoned village that could have been set anywhere. I never read anything that I felt could only have happened in this setting.
Her exploration of her Chinese spiritual heritage was much better but I wish there had been more exploration of the witches she came to find.