- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
**I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley and City Owl Press**
I recently forged back into e-reading with the addition of NetGalley. Years ago, when my husband gave me my Kindle, I went crazy over the vast catalog of self-published and traditionally published works available to download. A few months later, I missed the smell of physical books, and I frowned at the rise in prices on more mainstream titles. The e-reader changed to my hubby’s hands to download Star Wars novels. This new partnership, however, might have rekindled (pun intended) my fire, and Salem’s Curse was not a bad way to start off.
Celestina Sykes graduated high school valedictorian with a scholarship to a prestigious university. Her Granny made sure she excelled intellectually and physically. However, Celie is also a witch who is about to learn just how powerful she really is. Fed up with the secrets that have been kept from her concerning a week she can’t remember, she journeys out to search for truth from her aunt, the person who may have murdered her mother. Naive and unprepared for the world of supernaturals that boils beneath Chicago’s surface, Celestina soon finds herself in the middle of a war brewing. And her opponent is her ancestor, the original witch of Salem. While trying to figure out who to trust, Celie must use her martial arts skills, her powers, and her intuition to discern who the real enemy is. The fate of humanity may depend on it.
Confession: I love paranormal self-publications. Although I enjoy plenty of mainstream published fantasy and sci-fi novels, the unbridled imagination of independent e-books usually mirrors stories I’ve made up in my own head. Before I received the advanced reader copy of Sydney Bristow’s novel, I was struggling through one fantasy novel that just didn’t have that spark. After I began reading Salem’s Curse, my inner-fantasy-fangirl sighed with relief. Celestina Sykes reminded me of the kick-butt chicks I used to dream up. She had confidence, loved with abandon, and could tear down her opponents with a well-placed scissor kick. The obstacles she faces seem to have impossible odds, and she knows tragedy. Still, she keeps fighting, pushing through fear and doubt to come out the other side. These are the protagonists I adore.
This novel, Salem’s Curse, is not Bristow’s first. She has a trilogy following the Aunt that is merely a supporting character in this installment. Even though this novel is set in the same paranormal world (that I have not read), Salem’s Curse can stand perfectly on its own without knowledge of the previously published trilogy. The author also used a quite clever lead into the first of her original novels, which I won’t spoil.
Describing my thoughts about the plot and development is difficult without spoiling anything. To say this novel came with many twists and turns would be an understatement. Being that we see things through Celestina’s perspective, knowing who is trustworthy and who is trying to kill or betray her remains a mystery through much of the story. I do find some points to be somewhat full of tropes. I really couldn’t care less about a hunky guy with blue eyes, to be honest. This is to say I don’t mind romance, but I do mind reading about the same kind of mysterious, similarly-described man in half the fantasy I read.
Thankfully, the novel is short on romance and big on action. The lore felt at times choppy and a bit underdeveloped, but before I could lament over how the features of this supernatural world didn’t make sense, I was pulled into a battle scene. These scenes of actions and conflict are what carried me and kept my attention. At times, however, the flow was interrupted by Celestina detailing her every thought on the situation. Although I adore detail and description (I am a Tolkien fan, after all), I felt that some information just wasn’t necessary and instead impeded the story’s flow. For example, a popular restaurant/ arcade franchise is mentioned but also given a full paragraph of description, which interrupted the dialog between two characters.
Notes can also be made that there is some cursing, which doesn’t bother me but may be important to others. The language was not extensive and did not distract from the story. I also saw 3 typos, which can easily happen with a self-published work. In the end, I enjoyed Salem’s Curse, and the surprise ending made me curious to see what becomes of Celestina and her friends and family. Although I am not over-the-moon and hugging my Kindle to me, I would still recommend this fast-paced paranormal read to anyone who enjoys modern fantasy and women that kick butt.
If you found this review enjoyable, I also write book and game reviews on Fiction Addict. Thanks to the author and NetGalley for this ARC!