The Catalain Book of Secrets by Jessica Lourey

T I T L E: The Catalain Book of Secrets
A U T H O R: Jessica Lourey
P U B L I S H E R: Toadhouse Books
P U B L I S H--D A T E: January 1, 2015
I S B N: 9780990834212
Literature/Fiction (Adult), Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Faith Falls is a snug little Minnesota town constructed over a mystery, a place where the most impressive building is a gorgeous Queen Anne with turrets, cantilevered gables, and a wraparound porch. In a concealed room beneath the twisting stairs of the Queen Anne lies the Catalain Book of Secrets, the repository of the wisdom the Catalain women have gathered since the beginning of time. Ursula Catalain, current keeper of the Book of Secrets, is content to concoct spells in her garden cottage until the ghost of the man she murdered when she was 12 appears at her door in a new form. His return pulls Jasmine, Ursula's daughter, back into the fold. Once believed to be the most powerful of the Catalains, she foreswore her gift years before to bury a shameful secret. The ghost of the murdered man also calls home Katrine, Jasmine's sister, who has been banished for fourteen years. Finally able to return to Faith Falls and the beloved Queen Anne, Katrine must claim her true Catalain power to save her mother and sister from the dark family curse. Told in a majestic mosaic of strong women’s voices, The Catalain Book of Secrets weaves together alchemy, hope, tragedy, and true love to spin a tale in the style of Garden Spells, Eva Luna, and Practical Magic.

     These witches are not your average pentagram drawing, robe wearing, “double double toil and trouble”, spell-casting witches. Oh yes, there are spells woven but not in the traditional sense. I saw a slight touch of Wicca, but it was slight. I could also see how the description stated in was somewhat in the style of Practical Magic. Jessica Lourey adds her own touch to the craft.
     The magic of the Catalains is much more subtle than in most stories. Each woman in the Catalain family has their own “gift” if you will, even though not everyone in the family feels that way about it. One may weave her spells through her cooking while another through the clothing she sews. There are some more traditional powers such as crafting potions from the things grown in the garden while another can affect the mood of those around her. In these ways, it was different than most books telling the story of witches. For this reason, I enjoyed the book very much. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but that’s okay, it was a nice surprise.
     This story is not just about witchcraft however, it’s a tale of a family of strong women and their connections to each other, as well as the secrets each of them carries and how those secrets effect their relationship with each other, along with the men in their lives.
     The lead up to the scene where the curse comes to a head had me turning the pages wondering what was going to happen next.
     There are characters which are very likable and those that are not. I understand the reasons that Ursula did the things she did, but I didn't really like her or Jasmine. Katrine, I'm on the fence about. I think Tara is a great character although still quite young. Xenia and Helena were also great. I loved the house and wish it would have had more of a presence.
     Although, I found this a great read, I'm not sure if it would be for everyone if they are only a fan of witches in the traditional sense. There are no scenes in which good witches battle evil beings by casting magic spells back and forth. And there is not a lot of "action" either. Usually, if that is the case I get bored easily. However, this story intrigued me enough to continue on until the end. The fact it held my interest without a lot of action is the reason I'm giving it four stars.