Book Review: Charmed – Mirror Image by Jeff Mariotte

390384Title: Charmed – Mirror Image
Author: Jeff Mariotte
Genre: Young Adult, Witches, Supernatural, Charmed
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Publication Date: September 1st 2003
Rating: 2 stars
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Phoebe Halliwell is stunned when her latest vision involves her younger half sister, Paige. The vision reveals to her that Paige is actually an imposter who will infiltrate the Power of Three and break it apart. However, Piper is dismissive when she learns of Phoebe’s concerns — so much so that Cole and Leo end up taking sides as well. Before long, all involved are on edge.

Paige senses that her sisters are acting strangely around her, so when she meets Timothy McBride, an attractive young stranger who purports to be a witch, she decides not to tell them. She wants to have something of her own, separate from her Charmed duties. Secrets are estranging the sisters from one another, and the timing isn’t good. Women are turning up all over the city, dead by supernatural causes. The perpetrator may be connected to the sisters’ past — but if they can’t work together, they might not be able to stop him.

I personally find Mirror Image one of the less original Charmed books I’ve read. The premise is the following. Some crazy mist arrives in town, and with it comes a force most terrifying. It evades the Charmed Ones in their dreams, leading Phoebe to having a vision while in a dream-like state. Said vision involves an old armoire stationed on the attic, and something evil pouring from it. Upon awakening, Phoebe and Cole head to the attic, find the armoire and discover an old, hidden letter behind it. The letter was written by one of the Halliwell ancestors, who warms them about a traitor in their midsts, in the shape of a fake sister betraying their trust.

Phoebe discusses this with Piper, who immediately turns her down. Piper trusts Paige, and she’s not planning on ruining the rocky bonds of sisterhood they only just formed over some stupid letter Phoebe found. Because of her sister’s immediate no, Phoebe gets more and more worked up about these events, and she starts to trust Paige less and less.

Meanwhile, the third sister is not entirely oblivious to the obvious quarrel between her two older sisters, but she’s determined not to intervene, mainly because she has no clue what it’s about. Until she begins suspecting it might be about her, and all those self-doubts she long cherished rise back to the surface. Luckily, Paige meets a very charming, interesting and funny guy named Timothy McBride. He’s a witch as well, and knows a bit about the Charmed Ones. Although that might be alarming, Paige chooses not to acknowledge it mostly because she finally thinks she’s met Mr. Right. Unfortunately for Paige and her two sisters, that might not be the case. With a series of unsolved murders, the discovery of an old and abandoned house with more than a dozen skeletons in the basement, the Charmed Ones will need all the help they can get to get rid of this ancient evil. Including the help of one of their ancestors, the same one who wrote the letter warning them about Paige…

The premise might be interesting, but the story is really, really predictable. It seems to have come right out of some cheap romance novel, the writing is messy, the characterization could use some work (especially Phoebe is totally out of character) and I missed the intense action and humorous undertone I usually find in other Charmed books. Plus, in my opinion the plot of ‘one sister having a secret boyfriend who turns out to be one of the bad guys’ has been done over and over again. It was interesting once, but it got boring fast and it’s tremendously boring right now. Additionally, I have to mention that the Law of No Coincedences is ignored all through-out this novel.

As you probably already gathered, I’m not a huge fan of this book. I think the plotline is overused, unoriginal and drop-dead boring at times. The sisters are occassionally out-of-character, I miss the humor I usually encounter in other Charmed books and in the series itself, and the entire story is predictable. I don’t recommend this book to anyone except maybe for Charmed fans who still enjoy the ‘secret boyfriend’ plotline for some reason, or people who just want to make sure they’ve read the entire series. I don’t regret reading this book, but it does come close. The only reason why it does get two stars, is because I found the storyline of murders happening one hundred years ago linked with present-day events remotely interesting. The rest, not so much. Read at your own risk.

Book Review: Charmed – Mist and Stone by Diana G. Gallagher

109773Title: Charmed – Mist and Stone
Author: Diana G. Gallagher
Genre: Charmed, Witches, Young Adult, Supernatural
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Publication Date: July 7th 2003
Rating: 4 stars
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Paige Matthews is accustomed to the requirements of her job as a social worker, and she’s willing to endure substandard pay, long hours, and emotional drain. After all, she wants to make a difference — sometimes in a non-Charmed capacity. But she is unprepared for the anger and rage she encounters in Todd Corman, a young boy who has been bounced from caregiver to caregiver for so long that he doesn’t trust authority. Still, Paige is sympathetic and determined to break through.

But when Phoebe stops by the agency for a quick hello, she is rocked by a vision that involves Todd. Strangely, the vision is shrouded in fog. After some investigation, Leo explains that this particular mist has nothing to do with the weather, but rather suggests that Todd’s fate may not be set in stone. Todd has been targeted, and if the Charmed Ones are going to reverse destiny, they’re going to have to race against the clock!

Paige deals with young delinquents on a daily basis, and she can sympathize with most of them. A rocky childhood, wrong friends, parents who couldn’t care less…You can’t blame most of these children for the way they are acting. Usually, when you show them that you genuinely care about them, they open up to you and share their fears and anxieties. They start to trust you. And that’s when social assistants like Paige feel like they’ve gotten a breakthrough. But with Todd, there are no such breakthroughs. He remains unmoved when Paige tries to talk him into trusting her, he reacts indifferently to his environment, he’s reckless, violent and unable to show any emotion other than anger. Of all the children she’s ever worked with, Paige finds him the most difficult one to relate to, and to make him trust her. But it’s not like Paige to give up, not even on children like Todd. She gets him the best help she can, and the only alternative to a youth wasted in juvenile prison – a help center for young but troubled children, like Todd.

Little does Paige know that the things going on at the center aren’t exactly conform to the rules. Fortunately, Phoebe gets a vision involving Todd, and…Leo. In her vision, which is mostly covered in mist, Phoebe can see a man standing next to Todd, a man who is trying to kill Leo. The Charmed Ones only have to add two and two together to realize the man is up to no good, and that him being with Todd is no coincedence. Paige goes to the investigate, but that may not have been the smartest move ever. The danger they are all in is far greater than they anticipated, and Todd is right in the middle of it…

The good thing about Mist and Stone is that it has a decent background story. I’ve always wanted to read more about Paige and her job as a social assitant, because it’s a topic rarely touched upon in the TV series and certainly she must have had her share of troubles at work as well. I also liked Todd, even if his personality is everything but encouraging, and the story of someone trying to make children evil enough so they’d be accepted by the dark side. It seems like a good idea to take children like Todd to do the job, but that’s without taking into account that people, no matter how badly they were treated by society and no matter what horrors they went through, aren’t going to turn up bad per sé. Todd is no exception. Although being bad, violent and mean may come natural to him, that’s really not the person he wants to be.

The major problem I had with this book, is the introduction of the “mist and stone” concept. Since when do Phoebes visions have mist surrounding them, indicating the events can still change, and then the mist lessens as the events come more and more closer to actually happenin? If that concept was ever introduced in the series, then I obviously missed the memo. It also seems odd to introduce it now all of the sudden in this book, when in other books they never talk about it again. Of course the books are stand-alone and all, but it just doesn’t seem right to add a major change to Phoebe’s powers and then to only use it once, like some deus ex-machina thing. I’m obviously not a fan. And to put it as the title of the book seems just silly as well. This book could have easily been written without the change to Phoebe’s visions, and with just the story of Todd and his fight against the dark side as central focus point. It would have been just as interesting, if not even more.

Mist and Stone is the eight book in the Charmed series, not counting the Charmed Classics, which involve Prue, Piper and Phoebe, rather than Piper, Phoebe and Paige. It’s action-packed and plot-driven, not focusing too much on the sisterly troubles between the Charmed Ones or the other members of their family, and instead focusing on the events involving Todd. Although the sister’s personalities are a bit generic – it’s obvious that the attention is on the action, not the emotions behind it – this book is very enjoyable, and has a premises that lies closely to the TV series, and it’s too far-stretched. Excellent reading material for all Charmed fans!

Book Review: Charmed – Something Wiccan This Way Comes by Emma Harrison

146387Title: Charmed – Something Wiccan This Way Comes
Author: Emma Harrison
Genre: Charmed, Witches, Supernatural, Young Adult
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Publication Date:
Rating: 3 stars
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Sister Wiccas gather round. By our power we are bound. Hand in hand and heart to heart, force all evil to depart! Paige Matthews is new to the whole “Power of Three” thing, and looking to explore her powers. So when she reads of a Wiccan convention taking place just outside of Las Vegas, she thinks it’s a great opportunity for her and for her sisters to learn more about their witchy ways. Though the girls are all over saving innocents, they aren’t that heavy into Wicca practices, and Paige thinks the retreat could be enlightening. Piper and Phoebe, however, aren’t so sure. They’re certain that while they spend their days battling honest-to-badness black magic, their so-called supernatural sisters will be nothing more than a bunch of blessed wanna-bes. Soon though, they hear of a rash of murders committed against practicing Wiccans, and making an appearance at the convention becomes top priority. But as they head for the desert campgrounds, are the Charmed Ones headed straight for disaster?

Something Wiccan This Way Comes has a great title. Hands down for that one. The premises is nice as well, with the Charmed Ones heading to a wicca convention – that’s a new one, eh? And we have Paige to thank for that idea! – mostly because something or someone is killing innocent witches, and as usually, it’s up to the Charmed Ones to do something about it. At least, that’s why Piper and Phoebe agreed to join their sister on a trip to Las Vegas. Or well, that’s the reasons they give to her, although we all know that even the Charmed Ones can’t resist Las Vegas.

Upon their arrival at witch-camp, the three magickal sisters soon learn that unfortunately they won’t be staying in one of those uber-cool, extremely luxurious hotels. Instead, they’ll spend their time in a small tent. But that can’t ruin the fun, which only gets greater as they meet their fellow wiccans and realize half of them don’t even have any actual magic skills. But innocents are innocents, and the Charmed Ones are determined to help. Then, in the middle of the night, the leader of one of the covens present gets kidnapped and is later found murdered. The Charmed Ones rush into action, aided by two wiccan sisters who lost one of their sisters to the wicca-kidnapper as well, and who Piper immediately sympathizes with, reminiscing her pain over the loss of Prue.

When they finally get a clue of who the kidnappers are, it looks like chances are turning for the Charmed Ones and the wicca community. But unfortunately, things aren’t always as they seem, and sometimes danger comes from a corner most unexpected…

I enjoyed the interactions between the three sisters a lot in this book, and also the fact that Cole and Leo – although I love them to bits – weren’t always present. As I said, I love them, but having them around always can be annoying, especially when the Charmed Ones desperately need some sisterly bonding. Plus, having the Charmed Ones communicate with other witches, most of them wannabes, is hilarious and entertaining as well. It’s totally like Piper to get worked up over people pretending to be witches, but possessing no actual magic, and it’s totally like Phoebe to absolutely not worry about that.

The plot twists, especially the one at the end, were outstanding in this book. It reads more like a mystery novel than an actual Charmed novel though, a murder-mystery, and our three favorite sisters are the detectives in this book. The author did an excellent job getting the personalities of the Charmed Sisters right, and I loved how authentic all three of them were. Phoebe remains my all-time favorite, but I’d give an arm and a leg for Piper’s powers. This book also shows that albeit powerful, they are not without failure, and they too can make mistakes.

Something Wiccan This Way Comes is a fun, original (although not one of the most original, mind you), character-driven book that focuses a lot on the relationship between the three sisters and their coming to terms with the existence of other wiccas who aren’t all that bad, even if they have no real powers. They also learn a valuable lesson about trust and about what it means to be a Charmed One. A nice book for Charmed fans, but not the best one in the series.

Book Review: Charmed – Shadow of the Sphinx by Carla Jablonski

146385Title: Charmed – Shadow of the Sphinx
Author: Carla Jablonski
Genre: Charmed, Witches, Young Adult, Supernatural
Publisher:Simon & Schuster Children’s Books
Publication Date: January 1st 2003
Rating: 3 stars
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Paige Matthews is having a minor identity crisis. She is slowly but surely embracing her long lost sisters’ witchy ways, but she doesn’t want to overstep her boundaries. After all, she wouldn’t ever want to replace Prue Halliwell — even if she could. So Paige considers it a stroke of luck when, one day, her experiments with magic turn her into a cat. Who knew she had a knack for shape-shifting?

One problem: She can’t shift herself back. Her sisters inadvertently betray her when they deposit her at a local animal shelter. Suddenly she finds herself the familiar of a cult that worships ancient Egyptian deities, and is catapulted into ancient Egypt! Piper and Phoebe discover the identity of the stray cat and rally a rescue mission, only to discover another cat-woman, also entrapped within a fortress-like sphinx. This kitty is one feline femme fatale, and the sisters are going to have to put their human heads together to defeat her!

Shadow of the Sphinx is the sixth novel in the Charmed Series, not counting the Charmed Classics. The Charmed Series features the main characters from Season Four and up: Piper, Phoebe and Paige. Cole and Leo appear a lot as well, the first one either in his human form, happily in love with Phoebe, or during his descend into evilness. I thought this book was one of the most enjoyable Charmed novels, especially considering it’s original setting (time travel to Ancient Egypt? Count me in…) and charismatic but socially-awkward (I’ll explain later how these two things can be combined) Tyler. But it’s also one of the books that is extremely far-stretched, even for the Charmed Universe. Paige shapeshifting into a feline is one thing, but time travel is something else alltogether. We see it occassionally in the Charmed Series, but even for the Charmed Ones, Ancient Egypt is a bit far-stretched. Also, the fact that little Tyler supposedly relies on Paige’s power, raised quite some question marks with yours truly.

The story starts off with Paige being extremely stupid, as usually, mainly because she still feels bad for not having as much power as her sisters have. Or so she thinks, because in my opinion orbing things from one place to another, is pretty damn awesome. To prove her skills to herself and her sisters, she decides to shapeshift into a cat, obviously forgetting the fact that felines don’t talk and they certainly don’t say spells out loud. A mistake that will cost her dearly as her sisters, oblivious to Paige’s shapeshifting experiment, mistake her for an actual feline and bring her to the animal shelter.

Her sisters realize their mistake later on that night, when they started to wonder about Paige’s whereabouts and catch the Book of Shadows showing a shapeshifting spell. As fast as possible, they race to the animal shelter, only to discover that Paige has already been taken. Paige’s new ‘owner’ is a young, socially-awkward but undeniably handsome fellow named Tyler. Since his nowadays life somewhat sucks, Tyler has grown obsessed with Ancient Egypt, their Gods (Bastet, the cat goddess ring a bell to anyone?), their habits and lifestyle. Luckily for Tyler, he isn’t the only socially-awkward person with a knack for Ancient Egypt, because he has succeeded in putting together a group of Egypt-fanatics and they perform bizarre rituals every other week, in hopes of accomplishing…well, what exactly they hop to accomplish, they don’t know. Tyler does though, but his wannabe-Egyptian-Gods friends don’t have a clue. That doesn’t keep them from actively participating in the rituals though, and the chanting, and the weird dress code.

Except this time, Tyler’s plan actually works, mostly because he’s channeling magic from Paige. Tyler and his new feline friend are transported back in time to Ancient Egypt. But although cats are worshipped there like the divine little creatures they are, and Tyler undergoes a sudden personality change – gone is the timid, awkward young man and hello to the confident and charismatic version of him – that doesn’t mean they can stay in Egypt forever. For one, Paige would like to be able to fit into her clothes again, and actually have a conversation with someone other than Tyler. But things are strange in Ancient Egypt. For some reason, Tyler can understand Paige when she talks to him in cat-form, and he can channel her magic as well. But the mystery only grows greater when the other Charmed Ones go on a trip back in time as well, and accidently kidnap the wrong feline.

Of all the Charmed books, Shadow of the Sphinx is one of the most original. It was difficult imagining the Charmed Ones in Ancient Egypt though, and I would have liked it if the book focused more on how they would behave/react/try to fit in, rather than burst into energyball-throwing action. I liked the character of Tyler, someone who’s painfully aware that he doesn’t really fit in this world, but reacts all the more naturally to an Ancient, long forgotten culture. I also love the idea of time travel – always have, always will, Back to The Future-fan all the way, but I do think a lot of stuff happened too fast, and the time travelling was a bit too easy in this one. Certainly the Charmed Ones have a lot of magickal skills up their sleeves, but going back in time and altering events with just a flick of a wand (so to speak), is a bit far-stretched. Especially considering the fact Tyler did that all on his own, simply by channeling Paige’s magic while she’s in feline form. A nice thought, but it could have been explained better.

Apart from that, the story is original, action-packed and at times downright hilarious. Although we get a whiny Paige at first (for some reason, nearly every Charmed book starts out with Paige whining about not having awesome powers, not being able to control her powers, or about not having a boyfriend like both her sisters have), she soon develops into the powerful and confident Paige we all know and love. Recommended to all Charmed fans, and bonus points for being funny and original.