I am thrilled to be hosting The Witches of Dark Root tour today. Make sure you read the fun guest post by the author (I had to go back and re-read all of the chapter names after seeing this post) and check out the giveaway!
Title: The Witches of Dark Root
Author: April Aasheim
Series: Daughters of the Dark Root #1
Series: Daughters of the Dark Root #1
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Pages: 354, Hardcover
Goodreads Rating: 4.04 stars
My Rating: 4/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-16+? (Sexual situations, but no actual sex is shown)
Summary from Goodreads: Deep in the forests of Central Oregon is a town called Dark Root, a place shrouded in secrets, mystery, and witchcraft.
But for Maggie Maddock, Dark Root is also a prison, a place where she is forced to spend her days working in her mother’s Magick shop, forfeiting any dreams of her own. So when a mysterious stranger suddenly appears and offers to take her away from it all, Maggie jumps at the chance.
Now, seven years later, a strange phone call sends Maggie back to Dark Root and she is unprepared for what awaits her: a dying town, a sick mother, a renewed sibling rivalry, and a past she had hoped to forget.
Part Practical Magic, part Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, The Witches of Dark Root is a tale that seamlessly weaves the normal with the mystical, the mundane with the fantastic. Zipping in and out of time from Maggie’s childhood as an apprentice witch to current day, where Maggie struggles with her increasing powers as well as family obligations, The Witches of Dark Root is a book rich in both fantasy and heart.
The Witches of Dark Root is a really unique paranormal read because it feels very much like a contemporary novel. That's not to say that there isn't plenty of fantasy in the book, it's just that the focus of the story seems to really be Maggie's relationships - with her mother, with her sisters, and with her boyfriend and possible love interests. This is one of the most character-driven paranormal novels I've read. And I definitely felt like it worked. It made for a really enjoyable read. So, read on for specifics about what I did and didn't like -
- The romances. I have to admit that Aasheim lost me a bit when it came to the romances in this novel. I felt like one of Maggie's love interests was really kind of villified and in the end I really put the book down feeling like he got the short shrift (I don't want to give any details about what happened, so I can't be more specific, but I could give lots of examples about why I thought this was so). Then, one of the other love interests conveniently (and rather suddenly) falls for Maggie's sister. When the romance part of the plot is finally resolved (I think - kind of), it's done in a pretty perfunctory manner - blink and you might miss it! I'm hoping that we'll get to see all of these love interests more, and that at least two of the three men in her life get a little more chance to show who they really are in the next book in the series.
- The villains. I also felt like the "villains" could have been developed a bit more. The main villain (who I won't name) wasn't really developed enough in my opinion.
What I loved:
- The sisters. This is where the book really shined. I LOVED the relationship between the three sisters (well, four actually, although we don't get to know the oldest sister as well). There was sibling rivalry, adoration, co-dependence, protectiveness, jealousy, love - all sorts of sisterly feelings were thrown into the mix. These were complicated relationships, and it made for great reading!
- The magic. In a book about witches, there has to be some awesome magic thrown in, right? Well, Dark Root doesn't disappoint. There were some really fun scenes where Maggie had to finally embrace the power that she had been denying for so long. I look forward to even more fun magical scenes in the next book in the series!
- June Bug. I won't even say who she is because it would be kind of a spoiler, but I will say that sweet, adorable little June Bug had my heart just as much as she had Maggie's.
- The twist. The book ends with a twist that I actually had guessed at briefly earlier in the book, but had put it aside and forgotten about it by the time it actually happened. This twist has some interesting potential ramifications, and I look forward to seeing what happens next!
- The cover. When I saw that Aasheim created the cover herself, I thought, "Well, if her writing is anyone near as good as her artwork, I'll love it!" (My one pet peeve after reading the book though - Maggie has red hair, so I'm not sure who the witch on the cover is supposed to be. Since it was the author herself who created this picture, she must have had a vision for it, but I don't get that part!)
Overall, I really enjoyed The Witches of Dark Root. I would highly recommend it to fans of paranormal novels, but also to contemporary fans. I think that this book could appeal to a large audience. I'm definitely looking forward to finding out what happens in book #2! 4/5 Stars.
**Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***
Buy It Now:
by April Aasheim
Many people who’ve read The Witches of Dark Root have noticed that the title of each chapter is actually the name of a song. Some readers have said that the title sets the mood for them, allowing them to have mental background noise as they are reading. Others have told me that that they have actually gone to Youtube or Itunes so that they are able to listen along to the songs as they are reading each chapter. Even more exciting (for me, as the writer) is that some readers have actually made an entire playlist of all the songs to listen to while enjoying the book.
I really appreciated hearing that people enjoyed the playlist and so I thought I’d take this opportunity to say a few more things about the songs chosen for chapter titles in The Witches of Dark Root.
- Every song choice was from the 1970’s. I chose this time period because it was the hey day of Maggie’s mother, Sasha Shantay and her coven-cavorting friends. Sasha claimed that “one can never stay down long when there’s music in the house,” and every family crisis was overcome with a bit of Santana or The Eagles.
- There are exactly 30 song titles in the first book of the series.
- The titles are well-known songs in the beginning, chosen to help the reader recognize the theme, but as the book continues some of the titles become a bit more obscure.
- All future books in the series will also have chapters named after songs.
- The next book, The Magick of Dark Root, will continue to feature songs from the 1970’s. Books in the series thereafter may choose songs from different eras, especially as we learn more about Sasha Shantay in the days of her youth.
- Song titles were chosen based on three things:
- How well it matched the theme of the chapter,
- How well it matched the tempo of the chapter,
- How well the lyrics seemed to fit the chapter.
For instance the song Cat’s in the Cradle was chosen because of the mood of the chapter (somber), the theme (not wanting to spend time with your parent after an extended emotional absence), and the imagery (Sasha Shantay had literally replaced her grown children with cats).
- Sasha Shantay’s musical tastes were modeled after those of my own mother who filled our homes sounds of Fleetwood Mac and Rod Stewart.
- I love 70’s music myself. Many of the songs from that era had complete stories which suited my writer’s need for a beginning, middle, and an end. I didn’t really appreciate it when I was a kid, but as I grew up I began to see how rich and timeless these songs really were.
- My husband and I had a lot of fun researching the songs for the book. While writing a book about witches it struck me what a fun and magical coincidence it was that whenever we were stuck on a particular chapter the radio would seem to play the perfect song.
- Maggie’s character was named after the Rod Stewart song: Maggie May.
As a bit of a spoiler I’m including the first eleven chapter titles below. To get the complete list of thirty songs you can read The Witches of Dark Root or go to my website: www.aprilaasheim.com and click on The Witches of Dark Root tab. There, you will also see a sneak preview of the songs from my upcoming book: The Magick of Dark Root.
Prologue: Magic Man
One: Sister Goldenhair
Two: Stairway to Heaven
Three: Hotel California
Five: Turn the Page
Six: Wild World
Seven: Witchy Woman
Eight: Maggie May
Nine: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Ten: Cat’s in the Cradle
About the Author:
April Aasheim spent her childhood traveling the Southwestern portion of the United States with her fortune- telling mother and her get-rich-quick dreaming stepfather. During that time, April and her family toured with a carnival company, sold bug repellant door to door, and resided in an abandoned miner’s shack in The Superstitious Mountains of Arizona.
When April became a teenager she went to live with her biological father in California. Her father saw April’s need to express herself and encouraged her to write her stories rather than tell them. By learning to write April was able to make sense of her family and the world she lived in. She continues to do that to this day.
April currently lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband. She is the mother of two incredible sons and the step-mother to a beautiful little girl. She is the author of numerous short stories, has contributed to several anthologies, and is the author of the well-received novel: The Universe is a Very Big Place.
The Witches of Dark Root is the first book in the Daughters of Dark Root series and April looks forward to writing the second book in 2014.