Review: Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown

Posted: May 12, 2015 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Michael Alan Nelson, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Luci Jenifer Inacio das Neves–Lucifer, for short–isn’t the kind of teenage girl you’d find at any given high school. Beyond the mundane such as her unusual name, living on her own in a dump of an apartment, thieving for a living, and avoiding the authorizes, there’s the fact that she knows about magic while the rest of the human population lives unawares. She makes it clear from the beginning that she doesn’t have magic, but she can use magical items. That’s where the thief part comes in: she steals these magical items from bad people.

It turns out that even though she’s not technically an adult yet, she has insider knowledge of a world few know about. So when a policeman’s daughter, Gina, is kidnapped by a witch in a mirror, only Lucifer knows how to navigate the strange and mystical in order to bring the girl home.

There is so much to learn in this world that Michael Alan Nelson has created. We learn about magic as we go. Lucifer uses many different magic items/artifacts from her “bag of tricks” as she calls it (for as much as she pulls out of that thing it must be related to Mary Poppins’ carpetbag).  Sure they’re cool, but we aren’t really clear where the items came from–other than she stole them–and why she uses these items instead of others because we rarely get sufficient foreshadowing to her plans for the big events in the novel, such as an art museum heist and summoning a witch. Not that I didn’t understand what was going on and Lucifer explains the items and magic sufficiently well, but it’s often after the fact. This makes the use of the magic items feel somewhat contrived, especially since she doesn’t have magic but is able to use magic, items, and runes, and happens to have just what she needs in her bag of tricks.

Lucifer is a seventeen-year-old girl who is uncomfortable in everyday situations, like teenagers walking the mall or going on a date with a cute boy. Adversely she’s super confident with magic and appears knowledgeable, unafraid, and in complete control–sometimes this stretched credulity considering her age–but when I look at her awkwardness in other social situations then I think maybe I understand why, because she’s spent all her life thieving and running, and not being a regular kid. Her reactions to the other teens and their irrational behavior is so hilarious, it’s often how I felt when I was in high school. Still, despite her confidence with all things magical, Lucifer is not unlike girls her age and can’t help making googley eyes at Gina’s boyfriend David, whose persistence at helping Lucifer is impossible for her refuse. She can’t seem to help showing off in front of him and finds him distracting in even dangerous situations.

Luci Jenifer Inacio das Neves--Lucifer, for short--isn't your typical high school student. In HEXED, she steals magical items from bad people.

HEXED (Amazon) refers to the tattoo-like mark that the Harlot placed on Lucifer, marking the girl as her heir. The Harlot is the Keeper of Secrets who has the future running around in her brain. People come looking for her to reveal the future, and they often must give up something precious to purchase said knowledge. This loss is often detrimental, as we learn in the story. Lucifer finds the life the Harlot leads as lonely–and it doesn’t help that the Harlot has gone mad from her visions. Lucifer wants to avoid this fate, and is determined to find a way to remove the hexed mark and become the normal girl again she knows she wants to be.

The story starts off quickly and the pacing continues clear to the exciting end, even if the plot is circular in some places. The prose is crisp and unencumbered and the story easy to read. Your teenage girls will enjoy this story, and you probably will, too.

  • Recommended Age: 12+
  • Language: A few milder words
  • Violence: Some, but not gruesome
  • Sex: Teenage hormones and kissing

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