Elena is a toad, though she knows she knows that she should be a witch. Thus starts The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith. Elena breaks the curse on herself and returns to her home, Chateau Renard, a famed vineyard in France. What she finds is that her home has been sold to a lawyer-turned-winemaker who, instead of relying on a vine witch to support and augment the growth, harvest, and fermentation of grapes into wine, relies on science to create his wine to disappointing results. Upon her return she sets to not only return her home back to its former glory and reputation as the premiere winery in France but also to exact vengeance on her ex-fiance who Elena believes cursed her to her life as a toad.
Author Luanne G. Smith does a phenomenal job of world-building in this novel. I could taste the wine with the characters as she described the mouthfeel and aromatics of each sip of wine. I could easily see, hear, and smell the carnival in town and the local witches’ pub. Smith also establishes many different specialties of magic such as potion-making, love magic, jinni, and more. The world building serves the story and not the other way around.
What I liked most about this book, the first in a trilogy, is that it is a complete story. At its completion there are certainly threads that Smith could pick up and run with for subsequent entries into the series, but the reader is not left hanging on any major plot point in this novel. This is incredibly refreshing especially in the fantasy series world, as so many fantasy series don’t wrap things up until the very end of the entire series.
BINGO – Fresh Start