I was provided an e-copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Netgalley and Exit 80 Publishing for making this title available to me.
The Curse of the Bruel Coven by Sabrina Ramoth follows the story of a young high school girl who, after the passing of her mother, learns that she is adopted. With the help of her best friend Savannah, Vivienne is determined to find who her birth mother is and why this adoption was kept secret from her, only to learn that her birth mother is part of a coven. Meaning Vivienne is a witch, and a bloody powerful one at that. With this knowledge and a surprise kidnapping, Vivienne must come to terms with who she is all while learning to use her powers so she can save someone from the clutches of evil.
If this book were a person, I would grab her by the shoulders and yell, “Slow down! What’s the rush?” in her face. This book is incredibly fast-paced- too fast-paced, I might add. Within the first ten pages, we know Vivienne is adopted and she is also well on her way to meet her birth mother. Note that we do not know anything about Vivienne, or her relationship with her adoptive family, so the revelation that she is adopted does very little with regards to drawing empathy from the reader. From there, things take off at an alarming pace. Every second or third page gave me a new scene, a new dilemma to work with. The effect was disarming; I was left disoriented, and much of the book’s events passed by in a blur without me finding time to settle down and take it in.
Because despite the storyline having an immense amount of potential, Ramoth needed desperately to give her novel some padding. As of right now, I felt that I was reading a bare-bones skeleton of a much larger piece. It read a lot like, “and this happened, then this happened, now this is happening.” Ramoth needed to slow down and give me the little details that were more than just plot. This book, while entertaining when it comes to plot, was missing the depiction of the other elements: characterization was virtually non-existent, themes of family, loss and love were obviously there but not explored at all. I still do not know who my protagonist was: I knew the facts, but who was she? No clue.
This book is perfect for people who enjoy very fast-paced, plot-driven stories. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. Characterization is the first and foremost thing I look for in a story; if the characters are underdeveloped, chances are I will be skimming most of the book.