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Book Review: The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Happy Monday, My Lovelies!  Today I want to share with you the first in a new series by Luanne G. SmithThe Vine Witch.  It is very similar to other magical realism books, like Midnight at the Blackbird Café and Practical Magic, only it's a historical set in France around 1910 or so, and it's a wee bit darker, and a little more fantasy as well.

According to Goodreads:

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.

My Review:

The opening scene in this book (Chapter One) is one of the best-written I've ever read in fiction.  I don't want to give it away, but it's about a young vine witch being aware of a curse and overcoming it.  Smith's description of the process as well as the unique point of view is mesmerizing.  I was hooked from the first sentence:

"Her eyes rested above the waterline as a moth struggled inside her mouth."

Once Elena is free from her curse, she returns to her childhood home, a vineyard where she studied the vine witch craft.  Vine witches can see and sense more about the natural world than mere mortals.  They can also sense the unseen, the curses and harmful magic that can ruin a vineyard.  Then it's up to them to unweave the catastrophic spells and curses to make the vines strong and productive again.  Elena is devastated to learn that the vineyard is no longer in her family, but has been sold to a young lawyer from Paris named Jean-Paul Martel.  Jean-Paul is not superstitious: He's a man of science who ignores the Chanceaux Valley's rumors of vine witches.  Both Elena and Jean-Paul hold differing worldviews, yet they are very much attracted to each other.

Luanne Smith has created an interesting world of witches in her book: The village is full of them!  I'm particularly intrigued with the baker who creates your personal favorite pastry only when you're in love.  Once tasted, the customer craves that particular delicacy.  However, there is a very dark side to the magic in this world.  Magic can originate from very bad places, and this book is not for the squeamish.

I love the setting (my readers know how much I enjoy historical fiction).  The internal combustion engine has made cars a normal sight, there have been many scientific advances, yet the ancient ways still hold firm in the wine making craft and industry.  Other than the early twentieth century French countryside setting, there are well-drawn characters, suspense, romance, and a fast-paced plot with unexpected plot twists.  The novel is rather short, so it would make the perfect book to take with you on your Thanksgiving flights.

Have you read anything you'd like to share with us?  Please leave a comment below or email me.

Disclosure:  I received a paperback copy of The Vine Witch from the publisher via Wunderkind PR in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. Oh my, sounds interesting. Thank you for sharing. :-)
    Happy Thanksgiving my friend.

  2. Sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for sharing this with us. Hope the rest of the week is fun.

  3. You always find the most unusual books! Sounds intriguing...


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.


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