Title: The Vine Witch
Author: Luanne G. Smith
A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.
For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.
Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.
I picked up The Vine Witch on whim (as has become my habit nowadays) and I have to say my whims didn’t disappoint!
I love a good story about quiet magic and strong heroines, and this one more than delivers on both. The Vine Witch follows Elena, a witch who reemerges from a curse with an itch for revenge. But first things first – she needs to reclaim her old life. Her resilience and strength in the face of having lost almost a decade of time to the curse, and her willingness to adapt to her new reality make her an easy character to root for. Though she has her bouts of fury and impulsive actions, I never found myself asking why she acts the way she does. Because she’s level-headed for the most part, her bouts of fury and the few times she lets her emotions overwhelm her carry that much more weight.
At the heart of her story is the emotion of passion – passion for wine and the depth of emotion Elena is capable of feeling. It’s easy to get invested in her, and she’s not the only character – the entire cast is colorful, rich, and feel like they have oceans of depth behind them. I’m very much looking forward to the sequel, because one of the characters I became most invested in was another witch she meets, Yvette. She was a peek into the wider world outside of Elena’s town and the magic that centered itself in the vineyards and wine-making, so she was a fun bit of world-building too.
All in all this was an amazing read, and a world I could really let myself fall into. I can’t wait to read the sequel and revisit it!