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The Letting Spell by Erica Schaef #BookReview

An invisible evil lurks within the city of Blackpool, victimizing its citizens under the cover of darkness. Bodies are being found in the streets, bodies which have been inexplicably drained of all their blood. Witch Hunter Amara Gray is determined to root out the cause of the vicious attacks, recruiting the help of some of the most notorious members of her trade. When she finds herself faced with an especially powerful, ancient coven, however, Amara must decide whether the danger she is putting herself, along with those she cares for the most in the world, in, is worth the reward.

The Letting Spell by Erica Schaef

Title: The Letting Spell | Author: Erica Schaef | Publisher: Breaking Rules Publishing | Pub. Date: 10th of July, 2020 | Pages: 191 | ISBN13: 979-8665252926 | Genre: Horror | Language: English | Source: Received review copy from author | Unstarred Review

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The Letting Spell Review

Amara Gray is a witch hunter, thrust into a mysterious case when she receives a message begging for help. Schaef engages the reader immediately with the scenario and immerses us directly in the action. This drew me in and made me curious about the story and how it would develop.

Amara is an intriguing character. Her partner, Bronagh, is quite different but equally compelling. Both women are stubborn and courageous, although they both have weaknesses. This gives the story some substance, because they both have character arcs and their experiences prompt meaningful character growth.

It’s also clear that Erica Schaef knows how to weave in some subtle details that will be relevant later. I won’t elaborate, because I want to avoid spoilers, but I applaud the deft touch.

I was also interested in the supporting characters. Amara’s cousin, Jack, is interesting, as are her allies. 

Where I felt the story faltered was with the long gap in the action while Amara’s team flew to America. This is an alternate history story, and the characters do have access to technology that would not have been available in 1848, but this is clearly established in the narrative. The issue with the decision to travel outside the country is that it shifts the emphasis to the personal relationship between Amara and Bronagh while preventing any forward motion with the primary plot. 

Balancing relationships within the narrative is always tricky, and while I liked both Amara and Bronagh, it was hard to believe they were both able to put aside their trauma and fears as frequently as they did. On one hand, we’re supposed to believe they are in grave danger and have, at various times, been seriously injured or traumatized. On the other hand, they can push their fears and pain aside to have sex. Balancing these components of the story is challenging, and while the intimacy is primarily off the page, it sometimes felt like the story was more of a romance with supernatural elements than the other way around. 

There are also some technical issues. There are words that should be capitalized that aren’t. Others have been capitalized when they should be lowercase. Some sentences are missing prepositions. There are a few places where the wrong word has been used (for example, ‘hand’ instead of ‘had’.) 

I don’t expect any book to be flawless. Typos happen easily enough, but there should only be a few typos in a book. Considering the length of this work, the frequency of errors was worth noting. While it was usually possible to tell what word should have been used or how the text should have been presented without much effort, every time a reader pauses to correct an error they are pulled out of the story, and every time a reader is pulled out of the story there’s a chance they’ll abandon it. It is distracting. My position is that a few issues won’t affect my assessment. Once I realized I’d noted more than a dozen mistakes within the work and was still less than a third of the way through the novel, I felt readers deserved to know. Some may be bothered and others may not care. People who are bothered by frequent mistakes will have an issue with this book. Those who aren’t concerned about technical errors may still find this an enjoyable read.

Overall, I liked the story and I think this author has a lot of potential. 3.5 stars.

You can find this book at many retailers via clicking on the appropriate link on Goodreads. (Buying direct from retailers is a good way to support indie authors); however, in the spirit of supporting literacy programs, we would like to point out that you may be able to purchase this book through BetterWorldBooks.

Published inHorror Book ReviewsUnstarred Reviews
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