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Title: The Vine Witch
Author: Luanne G. Smith
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
The Vine Witch weaves a magical tale of deceit, betrayal, love, and family. The story begins with a curse finally broken and the return of a lost daughter to a home that is no longer her own. Elena is a fascinating character who struggles between the light and the darkness inside of her. Full of rage at the wrongdoings committed against her, she is determined to punish the one who took her away from everything she loved and made her suffer for so long. Upon her return, she discovers that her beloved vineyard has been sold to a man who favours science above all else–that which he can see with his own two eyes. Elena’s path will hopefully bring her to the returning health of the vineyard, and to help this strange gentleman see the truth of the beautiful magic that makes this little valley as beautiful as it is.
I could have read so much more of this book. It’s short enough to make for a quick read and I enjoyed it immensely, so I felt a bit cheated that there wasn’t more of this book. The story is perfect in its own right: a beautiful setting, interesting characters, an intense and thrilling plot. The only things that would have made it better is that there was so much more that could have been explored in more depth. I would have loved to dive even deeper into the histories of Jean-Paul and Bastien. We get to know Elena’s personal history quite well, as well as this history of Grand-Mere and Grand-Pere. The secondary characters are teasingly interesting. I rarely say a book should be longer than it is, but I think a little bit more length could have taken The Vine Witch to that next level.
You’ll love the picturesque descriptions, the intense conflict, the devastating injustice. You can’t help but be endeared to Elena, and her struggle to fight for what’s beautiful and pure in her world against the dark injustices. She’s full of faults and that’s what makes her real. Smith only gives us a taste of what this world has to offer. There is so much more magic to be discovered. I can only hope for a book 2 so that we get to dive deeper and learn more!