Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Witch’s Kiss by Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr

Katharine and Elizabeth Corr are sisters and Essex girls transplanted to Surrey. They both read history at university and worked as professionals in London (accountancy and law). Then they stopped working to raise families, not realising that children are far more demanding than clients or bosses. When they both decided to write novels – on account of fictional people being much easier to deal with than real ones – it was obvious they should do it together.
When Katharine’s not writing, she likes playing the harp, learning dead languages and embracing her inner nerd. When Elizabeth’s not writing, she likes sketching, dancing round the kitchen and plotting for more time free of children and cats. They can sometimes be found in one of their local coffee shops, arguing over which character to kill off next.
Their debut novel is the electrifying, dark magic, YA thriller, The Witch’s Kiss, published by Harper Collins in 2016.
Sixteeen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse. Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?
Brace yourselves for your Quidnunc Girl will explode with negative emotions. Let's start with the fact that both authors are unbelievably intelligent women, therefore I am not exactly sure how they ended up with writing this novel... It was very if not extremely disappointing attempt, coming from two people who could have given so much more originality to the idea. 
Okay, you know I love reading YA, and you know fairy tales are my thing as well, so this one should have hit the mark from the very start, but alas. Basically Witch's Kiss is a retelling of Sleeping Beauty with switched role. I loved the concept, it could have being exploited in a much more exciting manner than we find it in the book. BTW I forgot to mention I am giving an opinion on a sample I was given in exchange for an honest review.
Anyway, Jack, the would-be serial killer, has been trapped in an abandoned sleep for 1500 years. Cursed by a wizard to collect the hearts of those in love, he has fleeting moments of lucidity, where he is aware of who he is and fights the wizard's influence, but the spells that kept both Jack and the wizard, Gwydion, sleeping are wearing off.  Merry is his only hope of being freed from the curse.
So far, so good it reads very well. On theory...
It kills me when authors in general rely on clichés to get by... If you don't have a voice of your own, don't bother writing. Like me, I would be an awful writer if I ever attempt it, so I don't I just sit around pointing out the mistakes of others and suggesting ways to fix them. There are a lot of the usual clichés to be seen in this story, as I already said, but there is just enough variety to prevent it from being an exact replica of other young adult books in the genre. We have the usual special snowflake, we have a far from perfect family dynamic, we have the romance set out to fail, we have the historical aspect going way back when, and we have a couple of the other usual young adult check box necessities. Despite all of this, it did have some unique spins on these things. This is job well done! 
What really made it hard for me to read was Meredith: Meredith, isn't very interesting, and I didn't glean much of a personality off her - she feels quite bland, and I would have liked to see more about her life at school, and her friendship with Ruby. Her relationship with her mother wasn't very well-developed, and so later events in the book didn't have the emotional impact they should have. The witchcraft and magic world-building also wasn't well-defined, and seemed a bit vague and generic. It could have been more original in that respect. I'm also not a fan of romances where the guy can't control himself and so hurts the girl he loves - even if it's because of magic, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But that's my own preference in reading romance. I still found Jack to be quite interesting - actually more so than Meredith - but I couldn't get behind the romance between them. Also, considering there are so many female characters, they don't get a lot of screen-time - besides Meredith, the characters with the most significance seem to be her brother Leo, Jack, and the villain Gwydion. There was a bit of sisterly witchcraft going on, but all the other witches felt a bit flat and didn't really get any development, which was a let-down. I think the most interesting and developed female character was her Gran.
I keep on having the feeling that both authors were holding back, as if they were saving themselves for a sequel and that ruined the whole idea. On writing series, your first should grab the reader, not lull them into deep sleep. The concept I love, some of the characters are great, but it ended up being a bit mediocre. I am sorry I have to call it that, but it could have been so much more.2FOXGIVEN