Friday, September 9, 2011

New England Witch Chronicles by Chelsea Bellingeri

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were an embarrassing stain on America’s revered past. Innocent people were persecuted at the hands of a few over-zealous Puritans. But what if there were real witches during those colonial hunts? What if there are witches in present day New England? That is what Alexandria Ramsey’s crazy grandmother believes. Grandma Claudia claims Alex descends from a long line of New England witches.

Modern day witches in Hazel Cove, Massachusetts? Unlikely, but strange things are occurring in the weeks preceding Alex’s seventeenth birthday, which also coincides with her family’s annual Halloween party. Alex is haunted by bizarre reoccurring nightmares of a man chasing her through the Hazel Cove Cemetery. On a few occasions, when her emotions have spiraled out of control, inanimate objects have shattered around her. But that’s just a coincidence, right? Alex isn’t so sure, especially after a local girl, who supposedly dabbled in witchcraft, was killed in the nearby forest.

Alex knows something strange is happening to her. With the arrival of a new boy in town, the mischievous James Van Curen, who is making her life difficult and causing problems between Alex and her best friend, Peter, Alex feels like her entire world is on the verge of chaos. Could Alex really be a witch? Is it possible Hazel Cove will become a battleground for modern day witches and witch hunters? (Publisher's summary from Goodreads)

Paranormal has become a favored choice among young adult readers and writers alike. It popularity is due in part because it places creatures like werewolves and vampires, witches and demons within the realms of more modern day settings. The genre also develops characters with whom the readers can connect because they are living real lives in real time. The genre also evokes in the reader not only an age old fascination with mythical creatures once believed to exist, but sparks the imagination beyond what is known to be logical allowing readers to dabble in “what if’s”.

One period of history that has always been able to evoke my fascination because of the tragic insanity and rampant hysteria that cost innocent lives is the Salem Witch Trials, so when Chelsea Bellingeri asked me to read her new book New England Witch Chronicles I jumped at the chance. What I found in the tale was a modern day protagonist that I could connect with and a mystery with ties to the witch hunts of our past, plus, enough twists and turns that kept me reading for answers right along with the main character.

Through the first person narrative Chelsea Bellengri does a spectacular job steadily building suspense as we get acquainted with Alex. We learn early on that Alex’s home life is sadly lacking. Her mother’s drinks her way through the day and her father is icy and distant. But Alex’s family life does not define her. She is out going and has maintained a seventeen year-long relationship with Peter her best friend. She also has a great deal of affection for her parents’ chauffer, and house keeper, both of whom are more parental than her mother and father. Finally, Alex is very close with her maternal grandmother, who lives in Salem. Each of these relationships prove important as strange things begin to occur that has Alex questioning everything. First, a new boy enters into her life, then she dreams about a missing girl who turns up dead the next day, and every time Alex get angry or scared lights explode. But the strangest event yet is when her grandmother reveals a family history that has her questioning everything about her life. As Alex begins to piece together a rather bizarre family past, the tension rises exponentially, and leaves the reader gasping at the surprise ending.

New England Witch Chronicles greatly surpassed my expectations holding me spellbound. Alex’s relationship with Peter provided just enough romance without taking center stage and offsetting the mystery, which is the main course and very addicting. Every time I thought I knew what was going to happen next, Bellengri managed to shock me with another revelation that I did not expect, and I will be looking forward to finding out what is in stored for Alex next because the biggest revelation occurred at the end.

 Source: Received copy for review from author



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