I picked up the third book in this trilogy at the library, thinking it sounded interesting and not realising it was part of a series. I recognised the name of the fictional town Fairwick, and it wasn’t until I got home that I realised I had read one of these novels before. In 6th form I read the first book, ‘Incubus’, and thought it was absolutely dire. I was quite naive really – I know what an incubus is, but didn’t realise the author would use this as an excuse to fill the novel with completely unnecessary cheesy sex scenes. The characterisation wasn’t very developed, giving the characters a very 2D feel to them. Though because this was a good 5 years ago, and I thought the blurb on the third novel sounded interesting, I thought I’d risk it. I bought the second novel on Amazon so that I could read them all in order.
‘Water Witch’ wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be – there were still a lot of unnecessary cheesy sex scenes that didn’t need to be there, but it was otherwise okay. Considering the incubus from the previous novel wasn’t really in this one, it was a bit confusing as to why Goodman felt the need to add these corny sex scenes. The descriptions in them made them quite cringey at times, and the novel would have been better without them. I found they confused the intended audience – the whole premise of a fairy tale setting would imply these were YA novels, but the sheer amount of unnecessary sex scenes imply it was intended for an adult audience. Add to this the fact the cheesy sex scenes were mostly in dreams, they were entirely unnecessary.
I liked the story world – I love anything to do with a supernatural storyline, which is why I’d even picked up ‘Incubus’ in the first place. I liked the idea of Callie trying to figure out how to gain control over her powers and battling against the coven of witches known as the Grove to keep the door to Faerie open. I found that now Goodman focused on the story line rather than how many cheesy sex scenes she could cram into a novel, it immediately improved the narrative. Some of the characters still felt a bit bland, but this didn’t particularly hamper the novel. Most characters did feel like Goodman had just focused on one aspect of their personality, e.g. the grandmother Adelaide being the stereotypical holier-than-thou antagonist, rather than round out her character.
I was confused by the attempt to add a romance element to the novel. In the previous novel Goodman created a romance with the incubus, but had the protagonist Callie banish him to the Borderlands, a dark place of Faerie that he can’t escape from. Yet within the first few pages of the book, Callie has freed him to wander around Faerie. As far as the reader is aware, the incubus is still in Faerie for the entirety of the novel, who it is very obvious is meant to be the love interest. So why does Goodman try to create a romantic plot with two other male characters? Callie spends the entire novel worrying about whether she loves the incubus or not, which made these romance plot lines feel very out of place. Especially considering that Goodman was focusing on the overall plot more in this novel, the romance felt very back seat and thin. This clearly wasn’t developed as much as it should have been if Goodman fully intended on keeping it in the novel. It was an “Oh yeah this is here too” rather than flowing with the actual plot, which meant it felt unnatural with the rest of the narrative.
Some of the writing wasn’t very good – Goodman will write a similar description to something she has already described a few paragraphs previously, which she does several times. For example Callie’s wards – Goodman reiterates the fact that Callie can feel their ‘chains unlinking’ a good 15 or 20 times, which wasn’t really needed. Other descriptions had a cheesy feel to them, one of which being the sex scenes, but other descriptions of how the magic worked or how the characters were doing certain things – another of these being whenever the character Soheila sighed there was always a ‘sensuous wind’ blowing softly with the scents of cloves and spices hanging in the air and blah blah blah. These detracted from the narrative and made aspects to the writing very cringey. Another point that annoyed me was the character Lura being reunited with her long lost lover, who has apparently been trying for years to get back through the door from Faerie so they can get married. Yet as soon as he gets back into this world, decides that “Oh I don’t know if I know how to live here any more, let’s go back to Faerie together”, which once you’ve read their plot line is the only thing that could really happen with their characters, but this made it come across in such a clumsy way.
On the whole though I did enjoy this novel a hell of a lot more than its predecessor. The characters didn’t feel as 2D as in the previous novel, but there were elements to the writing I didn’t entirely like. I really liked the end conflict and resolution, and I think Goodman has definitely left this novel open to more storylines. I would give it a 3/5 because it has the basis for a really good story, but Goodman doesn’t really do it as much justice as she could have done. There are definitely things that could have been improved. Though considering I would probably have given ‘Incubus’ 1/5, there are some things that have been improved. Hopefully the third instalment, ‘Dark Possession’, has improved yet again.