Today, I'm reviewing Hexed by Michelle Krys. I wanted to love this book. I always have a pretty big affinity for witches + modern life = urban fantasy shenanigans.
The book wasn't really what I expected, but I think Krys's ideas are interesting enough that I'm looking forward to both the sequel and her future projects.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published June 10th 2014 by Delacorte Press
Format read: E-ARC via Edeleweiss
Then a guy dies right before her eyes. And the dusty old family Bible her mom is freakishly possessive of is stolen. But it’s when a frustratingly sexy stranger named Bishop enters Indie’s world that she learns her destiny involves a lot more than pom-poms and parties. If she doesn’t get the Bible back, every witch on the planet will die. And that’s seriously bad news for Indie, because according to Bishop, she’s a witch too.
Suddenly forced into a centuries-old war between witches and sorcerers, Indie’s about to uncover the many dark truths about her life—and a future unlike any she ever imagined on top of the cheer pyramid.
Things that worked:
While Krys's characterizations for Indigo Blackwood isn't perfect - more on this later - Krys definitely captures Indigo's transition from a flippant, breezy LA girl, to someone who is thrown into situations that beyond any normal person's comprehension, with strength and realism.
For the most part, Indigo handles all of the changes of her life like any teenager would. She's freaked out, she cries, and she basically rails against the world for awhile. But she also remembers that she can't just exactly hide while the world falls to pieces around her, so she deals.
Krys makes it pretty clear that Indigo is not a girl to be messed with, and I love that about her. Krys also makes it very clear that the obstacles that Indigo encounters, from seeing a guy dying right before her eyes, to finding out that hey, she just happens to be a witch, make her reexamine her values and her life to where she becomes a better, more well-rounded person.
If you've read any of my previous reviews, you'll know that I'm a pretty big advocate for YA books with active family members.
While Indigo's family unit is kind of non-traditional, she still has family that clearly cares for her and supports her as she adjusts to the craziness that is her new life.
While this book is very much Indigo's coming-of-age journey, Krys also makes it a point to make sure that she has some good (and surprising) friends to help her through that journey. I loved how Indigo came to realize that the annoying nerd next door Paige has always been a loyal and good friend, and how it's through Indigo's own folly that she didn't realize it before.
There's a pretty strong message of learning to value your true friends in life, that I think any reader both young and old will appreciate.
On a related note…
Holy toledo, Krys definitely knows how to write an ending. Without giving any spoilers away, the ending immediately made me go onto Goodreads, so I could figure out when the next book was coming out.
(Answer: not soon enough. You'll understand when you read it.)
Things that didn't work/Things to consider:
Without revealing too many spoilers, Krys did have a tendency to give a broad stroke to her characterizations. She never really dug deep enough, so that I understood the motivations and thought processes of her characters, without sometimes having to make leaps of logic on my end.
While I didn't really mind doing that, I did want to get to know her characters better through her. She's giving them a lot of interesting backstories; I just wish it was better communicated to the reader.
The insta-love for a so-called bad boy
Okay, I'm generally pretty lenient when it comes to insta-love.
However, I typically draw the line when the insta-love is love for a so-called bad boy with a secret heart of gold. Unfortunately, that was totally the case here. Indigo immediately thinks Bishop is hot for no other reason than the fact that he shows up under mysterious circumstances! And he also has a tattoo! and he smirks a lot! Which all make her promptly fall for him.
I'm not going to lie. It made for pretty boring reading, and it also made me question Indigo's intelligence. She's in some pretty sticky situations throughout the book. If I were her, I definitely wouldn't be trusting the dude who has cheesy tattoos and has magicked up a mermaid fountain with water shooting out of the mermaid's nipples. Yes, really.
The LA-isms (Or research/writing issues):
As someone who is from L.A. and loves the city with a passion, I'm always mildly annoyed when people set their books in L.A. and get the wrong tone for the city. This is totally the case for Hexed.
While I give Krys credit for mentioning smaller parts of Los Angeles that people don't necessarily know about, she seems to think that L.A. largely consists of weird, rich white people who like to go shopping on Melrose, all live right next to the Hollywood Sign, go club hopping, talk like valley girls and are stuck in traffic a lot.
I'll admit that all of this is probably true for a portion of Los Angelinos, but it's not the only thing about the city that makes it special. You have an urban area with great potential for urban street fantasy - why not research it and use it?
The lack of magic:
For a book about witches, Hexed actually doesn't have a whole lot of magic. If anything, it's more focused on the politics of the magic world.
While the politics were definitely interesting, I kind of couldn't help but feel like there should have been more of Indigo discovering her magical heritage. This is definitely one of those things where it's how I want the book to go though, so YMMV.
However, I still think that if you're interested in this book, you should definitely read it. Even if it's not fully realized, Krys has some seriously interesting, creative ideas on urban fantasy, and there's definitely an enthusiasm to her writing that shows the spark of a very promising new writer.
(Also, as someone who has already read the sequel to this book: I will say that Krys's ideas become even bigger and bolder in an intriguing way, so the talent is definitely there. It's just a question of polish and editing right now.)
While I didn't like Hexed, I do think that Krys is definitely a writer to watch. I think she'll have some great stories to tell in the future, and will only get become a better writer over time - I look forward to seeing that happen.