Title: THE VINE WITCH
Series: VINE WITCH #1
Author: LUANNE G. SMITH
Publication Date: OCTOBER 1, 2019
A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.
For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.
Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.This book really surprised me. I didn’t know I would ended up loving it. Honestly, I was debating whether I should give it 3 stars or 4 stars, but then I reached the ending and I was like, “this book deserve a full 5 stars.”
The story is about witches and wine, and the story is set in France. Witches and France? Very fascinating! Well, I find the story to be quite enjoyable. I wasn’t sure whether I would like the story during the early chapters, I admit that it was so slow and can get a bit boring, but I keep on going, and when I get to the middle, the story picks up very quickly. The flow of the story can get a bit rough at some parts, and I nearly lose my interest…but I’m glad that I didn’t. The problem I had with the book mostly is the pacing. It was so slow at the beginning until the middle, and I’m not really that good with a slow-paced story, I prefer fast. The setting was very interesting, just like how I imagined it to be. I see it as a mix of medieval and victorian, but more to the victorian settings with a gothic atmosphere. I find the whole setting so dark and scary, and yet beautiful, and that combination is unique to me.
The story is about a vine witch named Elena who is a well-known winemaker, and Jean-Paul, a man of science who came from the city and doesn’t believe in the existence of witches and magic. The story really fascinates me, and I loved that it focus on Elena’s journey of dealing with what happened when she was gone for seven years, how she cope with the changes, and also her revenge. The story has a strong plot, and I admit that the plot was very impressive. The plot twists are what keeps me going. The mysteries around the vicious murders, the unexpected betrayal, the shocking confessions, and many more surprising things in the story, these are what makes the story more interesting later on. The slow start was a torture, but the moment things are going to get very intense, I knew it will get better. I didn’t see some of the things coming, so I find some of the things that happened to be so surprising. But I did predict a few things that later proven to be correct. All the twists was truly unexpected, especially the last couple of chapters, that was the most shocking and jaw-dropping twist!
The story also shows how a vine witch like Elena make wines. I loved seeing her technique, especially when she had to use her magic and also looking at the prediction of the weather, and the harvest season. She really did it very carefully, and I really want to see more of her winemaking techniques in the sequel since it wasn’t the main focus in this one. Also, she was so good at making a potions, she really had the skill and learning where she inherit said skill was not like what I expected at all. I’m sure that will be a focus for the sequel and I’m so excited to see how it will play out.
I feel like the magic system is being modernized in the story, and it was like the magic system in Harry Potter…not the same, but a bit similar in a way. There are laws that stated witches who went against the rules will be arrested and put into a jail that dampened their magic, and the matron (non-witch) who guarded the rogue witches had a wand that will help her use a little bit of magic. The building of the jail remind me of Azkaban a lot. I wasn’t really liking the magic system here, and I was hoping it will have its own magic system. Also, I was preparing myself for an epic magic battle but sadly there was none, and there wasn’t much intense actions in the story. When Elena was facing her rival, Gerda, they were just talking for quite a long time instead of trying to fight one another using their own magic. I understood why they didn’t attack one another, but still it could’ve been great to see these two going up against one another at least once.
Elena is a vine witch who has an amazing abilities at making and producing wine. She was very smart at figuring things out, and also smart enough to come up with new ideas when it comes to wine and freeing herself from any dire situations. I admired her character a lot. What she had to go through in the beginning was very bad, and I was wondering who put her in that situation. It was totally understandable why she did what she did later on. She suffered a lot in the story, and yet in the end, she managed to handle any situations with much patience. She was nice and kind actually, and even when she was angry at the shocking betrayal, she still forgive the person who betrayed her. She was very forgiving, even though it took her a long time to forgive those who have wronged her. I feel bad for what she had to face in the story, and then having to cope with everything she missed in the seven years she was gone, then had to face a big trouble and got hit by the fact that someone she knew her whole life betrayed her, it was a very hard time for her. Her problems are a mess, and I was glad things worked out very well for her in the end. I want to see more of her fierce side in the next book, and also to see more of her passion making and producing wine. Most importantly, I need to see a happy Elena.
Jean-Paul is a very hard character to figure. He was stubborn, doesn’t believe in magic and witches, and he was all about science. I get why he didn’t believe in anything supernatural, after all he came from the city where supernatural things doesn’t always happen or exist there. It was hard for him to be so open-minded about the things he witnessed ever since Elena came back, and even ran away thinking it was all just an illusion or a trick. Actually, he was a nice man and a very kind gentleman, he just doesn’t show that side of him too often. The story shows him spending time trying to figure out what Elena showed him, and he was slowly accepting that supernatural things are real, and even took a time to learn about the laws of supernatural in case a tragedy hit him or Elena, at least he can be prepared. As a character, he wasn’t that bad, stubborn and close-minded? Yes. But then again, he changed to be better and the development his character get in the story was very astounding to me. I ended up loving his character by the end of the story. I need to see more of him getting involve in a supernatural things in the sequel, and also to see him working together with Elena.
Gerda is the main villain of the story, and her motive on why she did what she did in the story made a lot of sense. She was ruthless and vile. What she did was totally unforgivable, and I was so grossed out by what happened to her fallen victims in the story. She was very-very cruel, and all she did was for the sake of maintaining her immortality. From her backstory, all I could gather was how it really piece together everything that happened in the story. It seems like what happened to her years ago had a connection with what happened to Elena seven years ago—the whole curse thing, and whoever did it to her also did it to Elena. There was a mystery to Gerda’s character, and I was glad the author included her backstory and the origin of Gerda’s evil personality, that way readers can understand her character more. She might not be a strong villain, but she definitely is a great and well-written villain for this story.
There was a little bit of romance in the story, and I find the romance to be so sweet. Jean-Paul and Elena is the obvious pairing, and I was happy they get their HEA. It was what I hoped for since the start of the story. The build up to their romance was slow and steady, and it was very satisfying seeing the result. Their romance wasn’t epic, but still it was a nice and sweet romance that will leave a lot of readers wanting for more. I, for one need to know what will happen to these two next. For them to get together made a lot of sense. After everything they’ve been through and the months they spend living together, it really made sense why they ended up together. Jean-Paul changed for the better because of Elena, and Elena had soften toward Jean-Paul after trying to help him. They shared a connection that not many can understand, but everyone can easily see it. Their chemistry was strong, and the ending did them good. I was happy with the ending they got, I can’t wait to see what’s more for them in the sequel.
The whole story was very nice even though there was some gore and a lot of blood, but the whole story was exceptionally good. I loved the whole thing about witches and their magic, and I enjoyed the interaction between the heroine and the villain. Overall, it was a great book that has a lot of potential, and I want to see the sequel to be even better than this one. I want to see more upgrade, and better pacing. The story and how it ended made me think this is a standalone, but apparently it’s not. I’m excited to see what the author has in store for the sequel, and who will bring chaos to this awesome world of vine witches next. The ending alone upped my rating for this book, and I didn’t regret giving this book a full 5 stars. I truly enjoyed this book a lot, and I hope more good things will come for Jean-Paul and Elena.