Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Man, do I love E.J. Stevens. She has such a pure innocence in her prose, as if she’s capturing just what it means to be young and in love and also, at the same time, have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
In The Legend of Witchtrot Road, the third installment in her Spirit Guide series, Stevens steps back a bit. The far-reaching story arch that encompassed the first two books is still present, but it is allowed to linger in the background, to heighten naturally. As a storyteller she reins herself in, focusing on the tale at hand rather than building her world outright.
In many ways, The Legend of Witchtrot Road is very similar to a midseason “event episode” of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yuki, our main character who smells the dead, has her own Scooby gang, and together they must solve the mysterious death of a classmate, whose untimely end came on the Witchtrot Road of the title. The road itself is steeped in myth, superstition, and dark history, and if the always stalwart Yuki is going to have a semblance of peace from her classmate’s lingering ghost, the answers to the mystery need to come quickly.
This is a tale of social conscience and, just like the great television show I mentioned earlier, takes some of the more pressing concerns facing our nation’s youth (bullying, eating disorders, the proliferation of drugs in the community, etc.) and presents them in a fantastic manner. It’s a type of storytelling that’s pure in intention and beautiful in message, especially when presented in a professional manner, which E.J. Stevens does with every book she puts out.
Now, even though the specifics of Yuki and company’s world aren’t explored in-depth, as I already stated, they are still there. There are some interesting developments when it comes to Simon (perhaps the best character in the series), and also certain events that made me, the reader, question whether or not Yuki and werewolf boyfriend Cal will indeed have the happily ever after they’ve seemed, until now, destined to live.
Yes, The Legend of Witchtrot Road is a fantastically naïve, touching, and thoughtful novel. Stevens continues on her journey as a writer, and you can plainly tell when you read the words she puts on the page that she continues to grow. The author has a wonderful story to tell, one that I thoroughly enjoyed and will certainly be passing down to my own daughter. To me, this is a coup of the YA genre, one that shouldn’t be missed.
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