Potion: A Witchy Fairy Tale
Independently Published (2022)
Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (07/2022)
Take a well-known fairy tale, mix in some paranormal activity, set it in current times, and you have the basic foundation for “Potion.” This type of format can be so much fun to read, especially for the Young Adult age group, which this book is geared toward.
Lucas Jaeger is a typical high schooler with good friends and a garage band. But his past is dark and troubled. He and his younger sister Melrose were held captive by a terrible witch eight years ago, at the same time their father disappeared and was never heard from again. Given their shared past, Lucas is extremely protective of Melrose. His “white knight” demeanor is sweet and endearing, but Melrose sees it as more of an annoyance when Lucas questions her brand new friend, Star.
Melrose has been pretty much an awkward loner at school, preferring to stay in the shadows. But suddenly the three new girls in school, Star, Phoenix, and Violet, have taken an interest in her. They are her polar opposites, being highly popular and beautiful. So, Lucas’ suspicions have merit.
The characters in this story are nicely fleshed out, with attitudes that either endear them to the reader or repel them. Phoenix, Star, and Violet definitely fall into the category of “mean girls” with their pranks and harsh words. They’re not the kind of girls you really want as friends, but you certainly don’t want to be their enemies.
“Phoenix scanned the cafeteria like a cat on the prowl; a tall, sleek, lioness with razor sharp claws. Her hands were on her hips as her eyes darted from one student to the next.”
The storyline is nicely paced, flashing back at times to Lucas’ younger years with his father, and the horrific events from eight years prior. The plot builds to a blood-pounding finish that had me feverishly turning pages. Until it abruptly ended… with a fiendish cliffhanger. While I’m not a huge fan of cliffhangers, I understand their value. However, I would have preferred it if the literary train that was roaring at full speed had slowed down just a little as it neared the end rather than feeling like it hit a brick wall.
One other point for this well-written novel is the use of curse words in a YA book. This is immediately apparent since the book cover itself features the phrase “#WitchesBeB*tches.” I realize most kids hear it all at school, at home, and on social media. But one reason for having the YA genre, in my view is to provide appropriate literature for young adults and high schoolers. There are two camps of thought on this topic. But to me, a creative author, as Ms. Vann seems to be, should be able to provide dialogue that sounds natural and relevant without resorting to “adult language” (for lack of a better term).
If not for the abrupt ending and the moderate use of curse words, this novel would have easily been a 5-star YA read for me; the type that adults can enjoy as well as high school/college age readers. The story itself is a nice, modernized retelling of an old classic fairy tale that has much to offer. Ms. Vann’s writing style is solid, with a nice immersive quality to it that sinks the reader right into the action.