“We put names to the unexplained. Cast it as something to either fear or worship. And yet just because a thing can’t be seen doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”Luanne G. Smith, The Vine Witch
Title: The Vine Witch
Author: Luanne G. Smith
Genre/s: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.
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.
One thing I am absolutely in love with is wine. And the moment I saw The Vine Witch on bookstagram, I couldn’t help but be grabby hands because Magic + Vineyard + Wine = Y E S! The cover is an attention grabber, and the blurb just sounds so mysterious and intriguing!
We start off with Elena Bourenau, a cursed witch that found herself breaking her curse, and is able to find her way home to Chateau Renard. She vows to get revenge from her curser and get her life back together but then finds that her home is no longer really hers. She meets Jean-Paul Martel, businessman, dashing, mysterious and ambitious but also skeptic towards witchcraft.
First of all, Luanne Smith’s writing is so beautiful. There are times that I can almost smell the fragrance of wine, taste the food from the boulangeries, the way she sets the atmosphere in her writing is so vivid that I can sometimes picture myself in these french vineyards myself. The magic is also very interesting but I was wanting more in terms of the how the magic system worked.
And though I quite enjoyed the first half of the book, I found the second half quite dragging. I wanted more world building and see the characters blossom more. It was a good read but could have been so much more. The romance was also very insta-lovey. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for romance but there could have been more interactions, more moments before “the realization”.
I really had a great time reading The Vine Witch and can see that there is going to be a second book, so I’m looking forward to more.