I’d never read any books from either of these bestselling authors before I picked up Spells Trouble, but I really love the idea of a mother-daughter duo writing urban fantasies featuring teenage twin sisters who are witches descended from those persecuted at the infamous Salem witch trials.
Hunter and Mercy Goode are on the cusp of their 16th birthdays. They’ve lived in Goodeville all their lives with their Wise Woman, Kitchen Witch mother Abigail. On the night of their 16th birthday Abigail is going to consecrate them to their chosen deities, while reaffirming the protection spell that keeps their town safe from the mythological terrors at their door. You see, Goodeville was founded on a conjunction of five different underworlds, and witch magic is essential to keeping the gateway to each underworld firmly sealed against the monsters that threaten to break loose from their immortal prisons in order to freely prey on mortals.
Trouble is, something goes terribly awry at the consecration ceremony, and Abigail has to sacrifice herself in order to protect her daughters and seal the Norse gate once more. With her dying words, she begs her girls to fortify the gateways, each marked by an unusual tree in a pentagram pattern around the town. Hunter and Mercy must fight through their sorrow, bewilderment and sheer lack of knowledge in order to figure out how to carry out their mother’s wishes, even as a monster lurks, waiting to kill again.
I really dug a lot of the ideas here, and admired how the Casts acknowledge and honor the contributions of Native Americans in/to their magic system. I also liked how the twins were shaped as distinctly different personalities: Hunter is introverted but strong after a young adolescence of being bullied for being a lesbian, while Mercy is light-hearted and kind, if perhaps too enamored of her hot jock boyfriend Kirk. In the face of tragedy, Mercy gets sad while Hunter gets mad, and the friction of their flaws is dealt with a sensitivity that makes for absorbing reading. I also really enjoyed the depictions of their relationships with their best friends and with Kirk, as well as with the delightful Xena.