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The Witches of Echo Park:
An Echo Park Coven Novel
by Amber Benson
Ace Books; $7.99; 294 pp
Published: December 2015

This is the start of a series by actress, writer, director, producer Amber Benson about a coven of witches who live in the neighborhood/suburb of Echo Park in Los Angeles. The neighborhood is old—people have lived there since the late 1860s. And there are plenty of old Victorian homes there to give it character, along with its eccentric and colorful residents. Because Echo Park straddles a flow line of energy (a ley line?) it is the perfect setting for a coven of witches, also known as blood sisters.

Lyse MacAllister returns to Echo Park (from Athens, Georgia where she has lived for some years) because her great-aunt Eleanora is dying. Eleanora raised Lyse from age thirteen after her parents’ deaths. Lyse has no other family.  Even though Lyse has great memories of Echo Park, returning there makes her feel unsettled—and it’s not just because her great-aunt is dying.  Eleanora reveals to Lyse that she must replace Eleanora’s place in the local witch coven, something Lyse had no idea existed. She meets the other ladies of the coven, Devandra, Arrabelle, Daniela and Lisabeth---each of them a wonderfully drawn-out character fitting right into the Bohemian atmosphere of funky Echo Park. But Lyse takes a lot of convincing that not only are the ladies really witches, but that their paranormal powers exist, too.

Throughout the novel, Lyse deals with a new life and new information that constantly scrapes her raw and family secrets that shock her to the core.  Of course there is a very dark side to all this. Not only is Eleanora dying---great evil is coming…something called “The Flood.” And the glimpses we get of it are pretty ugly. After Lyse is initiated into the coven as its new master, she finds they all must protect the last of the dream walkers, teenaged Lisabeth who is shy, gawky and mute.

Benson has created a compelling cast of distinct characters, all of them eccentric and piquant. The neighborhood is also a terrific setting for the witches---utilizing nearby Elysian Park as well for their sacred circle. Benson has brought to life this wonderful group of women; as well as made some very sucky, creepy god-awful bad characters to confront them.

So it is all set up: Lyse joins the coven as its new master just in time to help confront “The Flood” which looms over everything and could destroy humans and witches everywhere. (She also meets Weir, brother to Lisabeth, who is warm, affectionate and has a sense of humor. He—I hope—will become Lyse’s long-term sweetie. She needs him!)

Now on to Book Two, “The Last Dream Keeper.” ~~ Sue Martin

Click here for a review of book two.

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