As the story goes, while browsing online I saw news of an upcoming novel from the author (who has now penned "Wither," "Wither's Rain," and "Wither's Legacy"). In several groups I visit, mention of this novel were made. At this point, I hadn't really heard of the series and of course hadn't read it. After digging in a little further, I found out that this was a trilogy and this the first one.
Thinking this book sounded up my alley, I checked off a mental note in my head to scope out the original ASAP. On the way to work the next morning, lo and behold! On my bed lay a copy of the original "Wither." What can explain this? Well, in all reality, I had made a quick book run at the local goodwill and picked up about two stack fulls. This one was in there and had just happened to be one I threw on my bed before hearing news of the new installment of the series.
I had forgotten I had bought it, so of course it was a pleasant surprise when I picked it up and realized the treasure I had held all along. Quickly finishing off a previous book and then burying myself into this one, I soon found myself unable to get out of the hole I had dug myself in. In one descriptive word, "Wither" is "amazing."
Wither is the first novel in a series of three, telling the story of teenage Wendy Ward, a Wiccan working in the small town Occult shop, pregnant professor Karen Glazer, and 8-year old Abby McNeil, all involuntarily involved in an age old story of witchcraft, possession, and legend.
After a series of haunting dreams and bizarre circumstances, it soon becomes clear to Wendy that the history of the small town is coming alive. Determined to save the town and stop her own possible demise, she and some select friends venture out to discover how they can combat powerful witches from the old days, and win.
The atmosphere is well crafted for this type of novel; not overly dipped in dark and dreary undertones, it still does manage to convince that its horror, and well-done horror at that. The strength lies deeper in its characterization, but the atmosphere compliments it.
Wendy is truly likeable. Besides having the classic teenage fears and worries, she's an independent spirit with strong convictions. Besides that, though, she comes across as a genuine person. From her messy room and run-down car, to her obsessions and hobbies, she was a treat to read about. Karen isn't mentioned quite as much as Wendy, but she's brought up plenty. Through her I went through natural relationship problems, pregnancy scenarios, and common hardships. Abby is mentioned less but as a child, her thoughts are precious and Passarella wrote her well. Everyone's penned nearly perfectly and drive the story forward.
The novel, being a large one, doesn't jump right into the boiling pot at the get-go. Instead it takes a bit of its time to get to the potent stuff, but from the beginning the character development is powerful enough to take me under its spell.
Passarellas' writing style is easily digestible and clear. His suspenseful moments are well written and paced, his slower scenes still stay interesting, and the finale plays off as a worthy finish to a great book.
If you are intrigued by the idea of witches, this one's for you. The whole town has a history of the three hanged crones from long ago; the setting is superb for this type of plot and everything adds together to compliment each other.
Do yourself a favor and pick up your own copy of Wither. Whether it 'supernaturally' ends up on your bed screaming to be read, mysteriously falls out of the sky, or else has to be hunted down at a bookstore, ignore how you got it and just read the damn thing.