Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson

Posted January 6, 2015 by Lorna in Lorna, Reviews, Urban Fantasy / 49 Comments

Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson
Series: The Witches of Echo Park #1
Published by ACE
Published on: January 6, 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Unbeknownst to most of humankind, a powerful network of witches thrives within the shadows of society, using their magic to keep the world in balance. But they are being eliminated—and we will all pay if their power falls…

When Elyse MacAllister’s great-aunt Eleanora, the woman who raised her, becomes deathly ill, Lyse puts her comfortable life in Georgia on hold to rush back to Los Angeles. And once she returns to Echo Park, Lyse discovers her great-aunt has been keeping secrets—extraordinary secrets—from her.

Not only is Lyse heir to Eleanora’s Victorian estate; she is also expected to take her great-aunt’s place in the Echo Park coven of witches. But to accept her destiny means to place herself in deadly peril—for the world of magic is under siege, and the battle the witches now fight may be their last…

I don’t know how I have managed to not read anything by this author until now. I do know that I fully intend on continuing reading this new series after reading this book. For me, it was a different sort of read, usually a good thing!

Witches exist, and are alive, and maybe not all exactly well, in the Echo Park area of LA. Eleanora is the leader of the Echo Park Coven, and has called her grand-niece, Lyse, to inform her of her impending death. Eleanora and Lyse are each other’s only family, so Lyse is devastated and immediately flies to LA from her home in Georgia. Once there she gets initiated into the coven, something she never knew anything about before now. Although Eleanora’s diagnosis is bad, she still is able to get around, and hopes to take this time to train Lyse as a witch. But there is something wicked that is happening behind the scenes, and the action ramps up when mysterious men start arriving in the area.

To me, there are two main characters of this book-both Eleanora and Lyse. A good portion of the book is the back story of Eleanora, and I found it to be more compelling then Lyse’s now story. That doesn’t mean that Lyse was boring or anything. She is capable as a half owner of a plant nursery(earth magic), educated, and closing in on thirty. She also spends a good part of the book thinking her aunt is delusional due to her illness-and she couldn’t be more wrong. Eleanora is a very outspoken, strong willed, and a very talented witch. She has hid this part of her life from Lyse, ever since Lyse began living with her as a young teenager. So it’s no wonder Lyse is completely confused about all that is happening. The other members of the coven were so fully realized by the author that each member has characteristics that stand out for the reader. Sometimes I have problems keeping characters straight in my head, when a group is involved, not so here. Of course there is also a love interest named Weir, but he wasn’t as important to the story as the coven-yet.

I did have some problems with this book. It’s an adult book but the author utilizes insta-love, and I found that to be a bit unbelievable. The ending, while not a cliffhanger, left a major plot point that was mentioned several times unexplained, and that bothered me. I know it’s the beginning of a series, but I was left with a bit of an unfulfilled feeling at the end because of this. And lastly, I am still on the fence about Lyse as a character. I liked her, but sometimes she was just a bit too quirky in her actions for my taste. The author’s realistic view of a women who finds out she is not what she always thought she was her whole life? That’s just one of the things I want to find out in the next book.

And yes I fully intend to read the next book. Why? Because I was pretty fascinated with the whole story. Sure it had problems, lots of first books in a series do at some point. None of the problems were enough to make me not want to read the next one. I want to find out about the plot point that didn’t get explained. I want to see where the insta-love goes because it does show promise and I did really like Weir’s character. But most of all, I want to read more about these witches, their lives, and the ghosts they are surrounded by. And yes there are ghosts in this story.

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I’m Lorna and I live in Maryland. Since retiring, I spend my time mostly reading and reviewing books. My favorite reads are Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, and Young Adult. I read a lot of indie books in addition to traditionally published books. Favorite paranormal creature? Vampires, but I am really liking werewolves more everyday.


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49 responses to “Review: The Witches of Echo Park by Amber Benson

  1. Pili from In Love With  

    I don’t read many books about witches but this one sounds more than interesting enough and I’m quite intrigued after reading your review Lorna!
    4 stars is quite enough of a recommendation for me to definitely add it to my books-to-check-out list!
    Pili recently posted…Tell Me Tuesdays #23!!

    • I was kinda on the fence about the 4 and I think if I had had the chance to do a 3.75 I would have gone with that, because there are some problems. At the end of the day though, I did like the book 🙂

  2. Great review Lorna! :] This does sound quite interesting. I’m not the biggest fan of witches and covens, but your review has convinced me to definitely go check this book out!

    • Yes, there were definitely problems I had with it, and I almost went lower then 4, but I think the author has set up a series that has a chance to become a good series-hopefully!

  3. Thanks for the review, I read another one that made me hesitant, but yours points out things I think I will like enough that I might grab this on audio. I find that some things are less bothersome when they are read aloud by someone than when I read them myself. I just love witch stuff but it’s not been easy finding much that gets me really excited in the past few years.
    Rhianna recently posted…Release Day: CALL SIGN KARMA by Jamie Rae [+ giveaway!]

  4. I was really surprised about the insta love type vibe there as well. I agree Eleanor was a much more interesting character compared to Lyse and really I didn’t much care for Lyse her character was very ehhhh just not for me. Personally though I gave this around a 2star because it read to me more like a 300 page prologue instead of a novel. Glad to hear you enjoyed it though…I won’t be continuing.
    Tabitha (Not Yet Read) recently posted…Review: The Iron Wyrm Affair by Lilith Saintcrow

  5. i haven’t read anything by this author either but i was tempted by this book… i’m still interested but i will perthaps wait until book 2 is release to avoid teh angst at the end and teh insta love i ‘m not sure how i feel about it
    miki recently posted…HAPPY NEW YEAR BONNE ANNEE

    • Yes I guess it would be a boring world if everyone liked the same things 🙂 To be honest, I haven’t heard that much about this author so I had no idea, and I wanted to like it, and except for some issues, I did.

  6. I think I’m going to wait (I’m used to doing to see what you think about the next book. The isnta love kind of bugs me, but if the character are good than it’s a maybe, it’s a shame coz is on audio 🙁 so I’m definitely will be checking out your review for next book.
    Thanks Lorna 🙂
    Lupdilup recently posted…Best Audiobook Narrations of 2014 (My Choices)

  7. Thanks Aurian! I was just going to point out that the author is a Buffy alum!

    I read the first book in Amber’s first series back several years ago and recall that I DNF’d it and if I remember correctly, it was for a lot of the immature issues you point out. I didn’t hate the book, but I just couldn’t get into it even though I wanted to. I had hoped her writing matured more over time, but it doesn’t sound like it. Thanks for the review.
    Jen Twimom recently posted…Review: Fragmented by Stephanie Tyler

    • Eleanora was my favorite character of the book. Her back story was probably the best part of the book, but also very emotional, and at time horrific as well. If you try this, I hope you like it!