I decided to read Witches: Tea Party by Mark Taylor for three reasons: it’s about witches and I’m drawn to everything that mentions them, it’s a novella (I don’t have much time on my hand so since this was short, it was perfect), and the cover is simply stunning. Here is the summary:
In Salem, 1692, Marie-Anne witnessed the death of her friend and confidant, Sarah Good. Charged with being a witch, Sarah goes to the gallows to protect Marie-Anne, a true witch.
Three hundred years later, Marie-Anne, under the name Mary Anson, vows to put things right.
With a new coven – Dina, Excalibur, and Lady – Mary puts in motion the steps to right what went wrong…and what followers is a chase across the country, a chase against time, pursued by monsters and darkness…
…will Mary put things right?
…or will she die trying?
The cover really attracts the eye with this gorgeous witch clad all in black and those colours that fit together harmoniously, and the splotchy font used that reminds me of a cauldron’s stains (I don’t know why, sincerely). It is mysterious and really conveys what the story is about while being a marvel to the eye. Another fun note is that the chapters’ titles were written in a creepy font – quite fitting, if you ask me. This is the second novella I’ve read and so far, I’m loving it, however, I don’t know if this should be a positive point since I was left wanting more of the Witches! I quickly grew fond of the characters as they seemed real through Taylor’s light writing. It’s a very entertaining story with many characters and a touch of humour despite the dark of the topic. Speaking of the topic, witches and the devil are hard ones, but he manages to weave it wonderfully. He made the scenes of judgment and gallows real for the readers and his use of Latin is well-chosen and interesting. What I loved the most was how well the suspense was kept throughout the pages. Although there wasn’t much intrigue, the eerie feeling of urgency was present all the way. Next was how well-researched the ways of magic were – I’m well-versed in that area, so I was surprised to see a story where the witches’ methods (old and new) stuck to reality. For that I do a thumbs up to the author, Mark Taylor! Plus, there was an author biography ; I think those are important, so I’m always happy to see a book with one. Lastly (and ironically), the story starts right into the matter with the judgment of Sarah – I like it when stories start right away instead of delaying it.
Now, onto the bad sides. I know, it’s lame, but we all have to go through it at some point… The most crucial point is that there was NO disclaimer or warning (like a sentence in the summary) that the Devil would be an important character in the story or there at all! Some people are uncomfortable with the very thought of him… I have my own problems concerning him that I wished I could have avoided, but it was too late as I was already reviewing the book when I encountered him (theoretically). If I had known he was in it, I’d have thought twice before reading Witches because of my problems. Although, I must admit he was fun and a good addition to the story! Then, the thoughts are written normally, without any indication besides the use of ‘’I’’ that they are thoughts. So, I’d suggest the use of italic to differentiate them from the normal writing or perhaps the author should write ‘’she thought’’ at the end of the sentences. Otherwise, it’s very confusing and I had to re-read them twice to understand what they were. The next main point was the excessive use of ‘’…’’ (that one can already notice in the summary). It was rather unpleasant. I used to do write them into my stories all the time, but many people pointed it out. So, I am criticizing only because I learned from it myself. A lesser use the them would be interesting to read. Also, there were typos and missing words, such as ‘’one that hadn’t there a second ago’’. Where’s ‘’been’’ ? It happens a few times, although not enough to be really bad. But as a proofreader, I couldn’t help but notice. Lastly, there is no table of contents. Okay, I understand this is a novella, hence it’s short, but it’s no reason not to have one for even short stories have a table of contents.
I was plunged into the novella without even knowing what was happening to me, and that is what’s a good book! I was transported into Salem with the characters. Overall, it was one of the best reads I’ve had in a long time! I give it a rating of 3 out of 4. I would have loved to give this story a 4, but the small flaws made it impossible despite the amusement I’ve had. Once fixed, this novella totally deserves the highest mark (it was creepy, but oh so great!) I shall gladly recommend this novella to everyone I know and to other witches and dark stories aficionados (or anyone who wants a good suspense). Let me tell you that this story will leave you wanting more!