By Juliet Dark
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: February 12, 2013
Genre: Adult Fantasy
After casting out a dark spirit, Callie McFay, a professor of gothic literature, has at last restored a semblance of calm to her rambling Victorian house. But in the nearby thicket of the Honeysuckle Forest, and in the currents of the rushing Undine River, more trouble is stirring. . . .
The enchanted town of Fairwick’s dazzling mix of mythical creatures has come under siege from the Grove: a sinister group of witches determined to banish the fey back to their ancestral land. With factions turning on one another, all are cruelly forced to take sides. Callie’s grandmother, a prominent Grove member, demands her granddaughter’s compliance, but half-witch/half-fey Callie can hardly betray her friends and colleagues at the college.
To stave off disaster, Callie enlists Duncan Laird, an alluring seductive academic who cultivates her vast magical potential, but to what end? Deeply conflicted, Callie struggles to save her beloved Fairwick, dangerously pushing her extraordinary powers to the limit—risking all, even the needs of her own passionate heart.
Juliet Dark is a pen name for Carol Goodman, a well-known author of gothic thrillers and mysteries. One of the reasons I picked up the first book in the series, The Demon Lover, was the hope that it would have some of that same atmosphere mixed with a little romance. It had atmosphere, gorgeous writing and not really any romance but I ended up liking it and was eager for the next book. Unfortunately, The Water Witch has little atmosphere and is full of overwrought romance. The only thing that saved it at all was that the writing is still gorgeous.
In the first book, Callie McFay was hired as the Professor of Folklore at Fairwick College in Upper New York. She didn’t know at the time, but she was drawn there because of her half-witch, half-fey heritage: the town (and college) is loaded with both, plus all sorts of other strange non-human beings. An incubus had targeted Callie and despite his efforts to make her fall in love with him, by the end of the book, she managed to get him trapped in the Borderlands, a terrible space that exists between the human world and Faerie.
One of the things Callie discovered in The Demon Lover is that she has a rare talent for opening the doors into Faerie. As The Water Witch begins, it’s summer vacation and she’s opened up a door to usher through some creatures. Who should she meet but Liam, her incubus lover, still tethered to the Borderlands. In just the start of her repeating pattern of bad choices, Callie releases, and then has some awesome sex with him. He reminds her that as soon as she loves him, he’ll become human and nope, there’s no love for him on her end yet.
While she was in Faerie, Callie managed to make a big enemy out of an Undine, a sort of Siren-type creature. In fending her off, things backfired and by the time Callie made it home, her handyman (and Norse demi-god) Brock had been mostly killed. Now there’s a pissed off Undine on the loose, a dead demi-god to save, Callie’s incubus isn’t tied to the Borderlands anymore and thinks he can get her to love him, two semi-secret anti-fey societies are trying to close the doors to Faerie forever and with no handyman, Callie’s beloved house is leaking and falling apart. Woe!
Seriously, there is way too much plot for this one book and the Callie that I knew and sort of loved to loathe is gone and has been replaced with someone so foolish and flighty that I longed for the irritating one. One of the things I loved about the first book was that despite Callie being ridiculously, arrogantly book smart, she was the one who needed to learn the most about her heritage. She needed help from the paranormal community around her and they nurtured her and in some cases, were a danger to her. It was part of the intense atmosphere of the book, the never knowing who was out to get Callie or if the right people knew enough to help her. This time around, one of my least favorite tropes is used, when the character obtains something that suddenly makes all of her powers appear, revealing that she’s some sort of Golden Child. Of course, she has little control over these powers so someone’s called in to help her, a handsome professorial-type wizard who she’s attracted to. Hint: Callie is attracted to just about every male who’s available, including the handyman who she calls in after Brock is mostly killed.
Dark/Goodman’s writing is absolutely gorgeous. Frankly, this book is nothing more than a typical fae urban fantasy, but it’s damn well-written. But there’s nothing atmospheric about it and I really didn’t care about the mystery/romance because Callie was too foolish to care about herself anyway. I got tired of guessing who the incubus was, who the human was and who the bad guy was; she didn’t seem to care, why should I? Of course this ends on a big emotional drop and a cliffhanger. I don’t know which Callie is going to show up for the third book though, so as lovely as this author’s writing is, I can’t stick around for another book. If she does another series, I’ll try it; just not this one.
My Rating: C