- Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
C’mon now, aren’t you tired of the vampires of “True Blood” and “Twilight”? Are you ready for a sophisticated family of Norse mythology witches and warlocks and gods living in the trendy Hamptons at the east end of Long Island?
If you are, Melissa de la Cruz’s “Serpent’s Kiss” (Hyperion, 336 pages, $23.99) may be just what you’re looking for in a summertime book. It’s the second entry in the “Witches of East End” series, following last year’s “Witches of East End,” but there’s enough explanation so you can start with this novel, which is intriguing enough so you’ll want to read the first in the series. The third entry, “The Winds of Salem,” is slated for June 2013 publication.
Joanna Beauchamp and her daughters, bookish Ingrid and party animal Freya, live in North Hampton, centuries ago settled by witch-hunting puritans, the kind made infamous by the Salem, Mass. witch trials of 1692. In fact Freya and Ingrid were hanged in Salem, but since they were real witches, they survived, unlike the unfortunate human non-witches who were falsely accused.
Joanna — I’d like to see her played in a movie or TV series by Linda Fiorentino of “Men in Black”, “Dogma”, and “The Last Seduction” fame — is visited from time to time by Norman, her estranged husband (Timothy Dalton would make a nice big- or small-screen Norman) and Freddie, Freya’s twin brother. Her attic houses a group of mischievous pixies — actually elves — who love to roam the Hamptons, stealing from the rich and famous.
Ingrid is 32 in human years, although she’s really thousands of years old. She works in a library. Freya is a bartender at the North Inn and is in love with another Norse god playacting as a human, Killian Gardiner. At the end of the book, de la Cruz includes material explaining who all the characters are in terms of Norse mythology. Loki, the evil genius Norse trickster god, is present throughout the novel.
A centuries old restriction forbidding the Beauchamp family from practicing magic has been lifted; Joanna has been contacted by a spirit from the past; Ingrid falls in love with a hunky local police officer, Matt Noble; and Joanna has met an attractive man named Harold who wants to get to know her better.
When Freya’s twin brother, Freddie — AKA Fryr, god of the son — suddenly returns, escaped from Limbo and professing innocence on a long-ago crime, Freya should be ecstatic. The golden boy, who lives in a run-down motel, can do no wrong. Or can he? Freddie blames no other than Freya’s fiancé Killian Gardiner for his downfall, and enlists Freya’s help to prove it. Now Freya doesn’t know who to believe or trust. Freddie may or may not be missing a few “leetle gray cells,” as Hercule Poirot might say, because he’s fallen in love with a mysterious college girl called Hillary — Hildy for short.
To add to the chaos,Joanna gets doesn’t know if the dead spirit attempting to make contact with her is really seeking help — or out to hurt her. Joanna enlists Norman, a college professor who wants to win back her love, to help figure it out, only to accidentally invite him to a Thanksgiving dinner that has as another guest her gentleman caller, Harold. It’s complicated! But it’s fun and that’s what summer reading should be.
About the author
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including “The Au Pairs” series, the “Blue Bloods” series, the “Ashleys” series, the “Angels on Sunset Boulevard” series and the semi-autobiographical novel “Fresh off the Boat.”
Her books for adults include the novel “Cat’s Meow”, the anthology “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys} and “The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels” and “Faux-Pas”.
She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle,McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.
Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!). She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter. Her website:www.melissadelacruz.com.