You'd recognise a witch if you bumped into one, right ? They'd be bound to be wearing floaty black cloaks and pointy hats and reeking of patchouli, or maybe they'd have a lightning-shaped scar à la Harry Potter to help mark them out? Well, maybe not, if 666 Park Avenue is anything to go by. In Gabriella Pierce's novel - the first of a series of three - the witches wear Prada (to misquote the film title), not to mention peach-coloured lipstick and expensive perfume, and blend in perfectly with the other Manhattan socialites.
Then there's Jane - very lovely but slightly naive, a talented architect in Paris, who has fled the clutches of her over-protective grandmother who brought her up in the French countryside when her parents were tragically killed when she was a child. When she meets the delectable Malcolm who, quite literally, sweeps her off her feet, she thinks she's found true love and happiness. Her first inkling that those rose-tinted spectacles may have to come off is when she realises that her in-laws' New York home, where the couple move in while planning their wedding, is number 666 (aaaggghhh !) Park Avenue.
The book is a great mixture of laugh-out-loud humour, edge-of-your-seat suspense, good old fashioned romance and even a few raunchy bits for good measure. Jane's mother-in-law from hell (possibly quite literally !) would make a great camped-up Hollywood villainess - I see her as an even nastier version of Cruella De Vil - and you get a a real sense of "girl power" so lovers of strong heroines will be in their element. I'm sure the mad relative in the attic is a throwback to Jane Eyre too! The plotline is full of will-they-won't-they moments and at times I wanted to scream "nooo don't do it!" as the action unfolded so it's probably not a great book for reading on the bus, especially as you'll get so drawn in that you'll be likely to miss your stop !
It's a fast-paced, fun read with a paranormal edge that takes it beyond classic chick-lit and is perfect for packing in your suitcase for reading by the pool. I cracked through it in three days and am very excited to know that I will be receiving the next book in the series, The Dark Glamour, to review too. It has also been turned into a TV series that will launch in America in September so I'm sure it will hit our screens some time soon (although, having read the plot summary, it seems to be only loosely based on the original novel). Read it now and you can impress all your friends by saying "ooh I read the book" when everyone's watching it on TV !
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £6.99
Disclosure : I received a review copy.
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