This review was first published in Resource Links Magazine, “Canada’s national journal devoted to the review and evaluation of Canadian English and French resources for children and young adults.” It appears in volume 21.1.
I’ve been anxiously awaiting Michelle Krys’s, Charmed, the sequel to her gripping first novel, Hexed (2014), reviewed in volume 20.1 of Resource Links. The end of Charmed suggests strongly that there will not be a third installation in the story, and I applaud Krys loudly for resisting the current trend towards series that go on far too long. Hexed and Charmed work together to present a cohesive and complete narrative arc; nothing more is needed. I was a bit put off by the link included at the end of Hexed, but now that readers are free to continue directly into Charmed, all is well.
The one element that rendered Charmed less powerful than Hexed is that Krys finds it necessary to have her protagonist, Indigo Blackwood, behave out of character in order to move the plot in the required direction. The climax and dénouement of the novel reveal the necessity of this plot manipulation, but it would have been more convincing if Indie had remained true to character throughout. Despite her rebellious and at times resentful nature, the Indie we know from Hexed doesn’t seem the sort to maintain a web of deceit. That she feels remorse mitigates her behaviour to an extent, but her choices still feel out of sync.
At the end of Hexed, Indie and her warlock boyfriend Bishop have vanquished a large portion of the sorcerers’ Guild, but not all. A threatening message is left on Indie’s phone, with the pleading voice of her best friend, Paige, in the background. This is where Charmed opens. From here, Indie’s life spirals into a confusion of paths and obstructions, information and lies. She feels that her Aunt Penny, guardian after the death of her mother, has betrayed her; Bishop seems to be siding with the enemy (Penny); Bishop’s old girlfriend, Jezebel (the name says it all), inexplicably solicits her help in a dangerous and ill-advised scheme; people around her are having their memories altered; and no one seems to care enough that Paige is missing. Perhaps it’s not so surprising, then, that Indie behaves somewhat irrationally in her quest for answers. She knows if she says anything to Bishop, he will side with Aunt Penny in an attempt to keep Indie safe, but Indie knows she is Paige’s only hope. Here, Indie’s responses may feel inauthentic, but the intricacies of the plot as it develops relegate this flaw to the background.
Indie’s decisions are ultimately supported by Bishop and Penny, and all three move towards the inevitable conflict knowingly, and with fear. Krys has already revealed herself as quite willing to disrupt narrative expectations, and the culmination of events does not disappoint. Indie’s independence and strength (both as a witch and as a young woman) stand her in good stead, as does the support she receives from unexpected sources. Here, in the final battle, Krys’s rich characterization and psychologically sound plot development reappear, creating a sequence of events at once terrifying and satisfying.