Sunday, May 29, 2011

Claimed (Witches of Santa Anna #1)

Lauren Barnholdt & Aaron Gorvine

The synopsis, from the authors:

"The first book in The Witches of Santa Anna series of novellas...

Natalia Moore is the new girl at Santa Anna Prep, and all she wants to do is fly under the radar -- get to her classes, meet a few friends, and try not to make a total fool of herself in the meantime. But when handsome and popular Campbell Elliot goes out of his way to be nice to the new girl, Natalia's plan to go unnoticed flies out the window.

Cam’s hot, but he’s completely off-limits. Raine Marsden, the most popular and meanest girl in school, has had her eye on him ever since the summer. And Raine doesn’t like competition.

When Cam goes as far as inviting Natalia to the exclusive weekend party at Raine's house, Raine sets her sights on a new victim. But what Natalia doesn't know is that Raine and her friends are no ordinary mean girls. They have powers most people can only dream of, and nobody will stand in the way of what they want. And what Raine wants is Campbell.

Claimed, the first book in The Witches of Santa Anna series of novellas, proves just how far true love will go and that nothing--not even pure evil--can change your destiny…."

This is definitely a novella.  I knew from the customer reviews on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble's sites that this would be short, so maybe it prepared me for what I was getting here.  This first novella in the Witches of Santa Anna series is 38 pages long, but is only .99 to purchase, so you decide if it's worth the price.  Otherwise, there are versions of this story available out there that include seven of the novellas together for a higher price, but is probably more along the lines of a novel-sized story.

I was actually kind of surprised, given the poor reviews on-line, by how much I enjoyed this title.  I think the length had more to do with the ratings than anything, but even beyond that, there are copious amounts of grammatical errors.  This is one of many things that give self-publishing a bad wrap, and in a novella that's only 38 pages long, so many errors is unforgivable.  I think the authors just needed to spend a little more time smoothing things out and having other people read their work before putting it out there in a botched form.  Perhaps errors were corrected in later versions of the stories that complied the novellas, but either way, this is a poor first impression.  I think a little more time spent with this first chunk of the story would have helped to smooth out some of the awkward dialogue as well, which really took me out of the story in some spots.

But given these glaring negatives, this was a pretty entertaining story.  I think some things could have been made clearer, especially when it came to the intentions of Cam, the love interest, whose character just seemed very confused and contradictory, but for the most part, the story was pretty satisfying.  The authors had a nice balance to the scenes and knew how to build suspense throughout the story, ending with a pretty dramatic cliffhanger.  Given a little more attention, this could have been transformed from a "decent" story to a "great" story, if more detail were added and the creators just slowed down a bit with the writing process.  This might be one of those examples of the writers just needing a little time to grow into their craft, and perhaps began putting their work out there a little too early.  But I imagine that some readers, at least, enjoyed this story, even with its blatant flaws.

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