I read pretty much anything, from fantasy (City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett) to romance (Bared to You by Sylvia Day) to classics (Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad). The only genres I don't read are self-help and comic books/graphic novels.
23/1 - I recently finished another Charmed book and was quite disappointed with the way the author (Scott Ciencin) wrote the majority of the characters - they didn't sound like themselves at all and it was really off-putting. The Warren Witches is the complete opposite of that. Each individual author managed to capture the exact sound of the sisters' voices. I can picture each story being an episode with Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano and Rose McGowan playing their respective parts. I couldn't see any of the characters behaving/speaking the way they did in Ciencin's book, but it was a perfect match with The Warren Witches. So, that's my general feeling about the book, now I'll review each story individually.
Old Friends by Laura J. Burns
This was about a young woman who kept popping up in the Halliwell's lives, going back generations to Gram's grandma. It turns out she was accidentally cursed with a 'forever young' spell that stopped her aging at 19, and that the spell was cast by Russell (it seems it was all the rage to call people by their last names in the 20s), the evil past life of Phoebe. The same character was shown being played by Alyssa Milano in the season two episode Pardon My Past. This was a good addition to the back story and gave us another insight into P. Russell.
The Crucible by Micol Ostow
This was about Marissa, a teenage girl, who got a position working as an intern for Phoebe. Phoebe thinks she made the decision to hire Marissa on her own, but it was actually the Elders who put her resume under her nose. They are worried because her high school classmates have been perpetrating some excessively aggressive acts of bullying towards her. It turns out the 'spell' she and a friend cast on Natalie, the ringleader of the bullies, backfired due to substituted ingredients, sending Hete, a demon who foments hatred among humans, after herself instead of Natalie.
Patty's Awakening by Greg Elliot
This one took us back into Patty's past, to when she was 16 years old and sick of living with a 'weird' mother. It's a common enough story - teenage girl wishes her parents (mother in this case) could just be normal, like all the other mothers - but when there's a Halliwell involved 'normal' is a lot further removed than usual. Patty is dating a guy from school who has the perfect life with the perfect family - no 48 hour fairy parties, no demons interrupting Sunday lunch, no trips to the Chinese herbalist for Wolf's bane - and that's what she dreams of. This causes friction between her and Penny which sends her running to Stella who gives her everything she wishes her mother would - a warm bed, normal dinner conversation and no nagging about her future as a witch. Unfortunately it turns out Stella is actually a demon in sheep's clothing who is just waiting for Patty to give up her powers forever so she'll be unable to defend herself and her future family against attack. Patty begins to understand what her mother has been trying to tell her about the inadvisability of living your life as a powerless witch and this understanding finally brings Patty and Penny together as a family, although only temporarily as they are known for their spending their lives (and after lives) fighting with each other.
24/1 - Something Old, Something New by Paul Ruditis
This started out with an unexplained vortex suddenly appearing in the Halliwell's attic. No sucking gravity pulling them in, no instructions, no nothing. So the sisters, not knowing if the portal was for good or evil and not knowing where, or more importantly when, they might end up, treated the portal cautiously and spent 24 hours examining it and discussing what to do about it (to go through, or not to go through, that was the question). In the end it was Paige's impulsiveness that got them through, after she semi-spontaneously walked though on her own, forcing Piper and Phoebe to follow. We find out at the end of the story that Grams drew on the power of all the Warren witches in order to send them back, but couldn't quite manage the extra burst of power needed to make the vortex a sucking vortex that would draw the sisters in automatically (as the normal time travel vortices the sisters have dealt with in the past usually do). Anyway, the girls are sent back to the early 1700s to stop their second oldest ancestor, Prudence Warren only daughter of Melinda Warren, from giving up her powers. She believed her fiancé would no longer lover her if he found out she was a witch and she was terrified of passing her curse on to any children she might have. But if Prudence relinquished her powers that would remove them from all her descendants, including the Charmed Ones (a circumstance all three contemplate and wonder if it would be such a bad thing after all, and then mentally shake their heads and remind themselves of all the good they've done with their powers and how they wouldn't really choose to be without them now, that it's part of their lives for better or worse). Time travel episodes (which this seems to be full of) were always my favourite, so it's no wonder this was one of my favourite stories in the book.
Preconceived by Erica Pass
Preconceived was another 'Patty as a rebellious teen' story. This is set not long after Patty's Awakening, but involves the girls time travelling back to save their mum from a demon, as well as some continued friction between Patty and Penny. In the present day the sisters kill an athame wielding demon, who as he flamed up said a Latin incantation and then thanked the girls. The girls are puzzled and go straight to the attic to check the BoS for the dead demon. (Shock, horror) It turns out the demon is from the Angus family who can regenerate a recently dead Angus ancestor if they die saying that Latin incantation. The most recently dead ancestor will be regenerated back to the same time they died, so by killing current era Angus they've accidentally regenerated an Angus who died the same time Patty became a full-fledged witch. Simon, the regenerated demon, is back to take out the Charmed Ones in one fell swoop - by taking out the vulnerable new witch Patty Halliwell, their mother. Of course, the girls immediately write a spell that transports them back into the middle of another argument between mother and daughter. The girls can't risk upsetting the timeline by telling Patty or Penny too much about their own future, so they have to come up with the usual vague explanations of who they are and excuses for why they can't be more forthcoming - some laughing at awkward situations/conversations followed.
Witch Trap by Cameron Dokey
During a 'sister bonding' trip the girls visit an antiques store in a dying town called Williamstown. In the antiques store they happen to come across a brooch that has a design strangely similar to the triquetra on their BoS. When they touch the brooch they are transported to the Gold Rush era in the same town. Phoebe and Piper are immediately arrested and taken to the stockade for being suspected of 'being evil'. Paige is rescued by a young woman named Marianne who tells her that her sisters have been imprisoned by her brother William. William has been sent mad by greed and believes that anyone coming to the town must be there for nefarious, gold-stealing purposes and they all need to be burnt at the stake for being witches. William believes the evil is stronger at night, so much so that he won't ask anyone to stand guard at the stockade over night. So Marianne and Paige are able to break in with no worries, but then they make the stupidest mistake imaginable and decide to stand in the cell and discuss who's who and why they're there, instead of getting the hell out of there before anyone finds them and locks them all in stockade. Of course, that's just what happens next. William walks in and finds them standing around having a chat. Why on earth would you not leave when you had the chance and leave the explanations till after you're safe?! So stupid and very unCharmed-like, the first instance of that in this book. The ending of this felt very rushed - one minute their 'innocent' is about to burn at the stake, then her brother breaks the curse on him by sacrificing himself for her and instantaneously they're back in the antiques store looking at the brooch. No explanation of what happened in the minutes following William's sacrifice, just poof and everything's back to normal. This is definitely my least favourite story out of all of them.
Old Family Recipe by Diana G. Gallagher
An entertaining story of Piper's attempts to bake Gram's famous apple pie for a bake sale for Darryl. She finds the long-lost recipe, or thinks she has, and bakes four pies, one for the family and three for the bake sale. The Halliwell family, except for Wyatt and Piper, Darryl and Sheila and two other cops and their partners all eat the pie. Unfortunately, the recipe actually belonged to P. Russell, Phoebe's evil past life from the 20s. She had been jilted by a lover and gave his new girlfriend a cursed pie recipe. Anyone who ate it would become fixated, to the point of injuring themselves or someone else, on the first thing that grabbed their attention after eating the pie. For Paige that was washing dishes; for Leo caring for Wyatt; for Darryl playing videogames; for Sheila gardening; for the other cops exercising to work off the calories of the pie, organising their partners' apartment and re-organising it back again. The scenes where Piper's trying to work on the potion with Paige hovering over her waiting to clean each utensil as soon as it's used were quite amusing and reminded me of one of my great grandmas. I don't remember her, but the family stories of her taking your plate before you'd finished eating are legend. Piper works out that the pie is to blame quite quickly and cures everyone effected before any serious harm can be done. Thank goodness Piper didn't eat any of the pie, she's obsessive enough as it is.
Family History by Laura J. Burns
A goddess, Astarte, is attacking multiple generations of the Halliwell/Warrens at the same time. Within minutes of Astarte's arrival and subsequent vanquishing (they didn't realise that she was able to exist in multiple times at once) things in the house started to change as they were effected by the battles going on in multiple earlier time periods - mirrors disappearing, Phoebe's hair growing long, and most importantly Wyatt vanishing into thin air. Leo explains that not only are past battles causing things to vanish (because, they got damaged in the battle in the past they are no longer in the house in the present), but at any moment the death of a family member in any one of the battles could cause their deaths. After so many stories featuring the girls going back to one time or another, this one takes them back to all the times they've already visited, plus an extra one to visit a previously unknown ancestor - Brianna. I was a little surprised that when the Charmed Ones individually went to visit their ancestors to ask for their help to simultaneously vanquish Astarte in all times, some of the ancestors were a bit resistant. Brianna especially wasn't all that interested in doing anything to help her family, if Phoebe hadn't threatened her with the permanent disappearance of her treasured paintings she wouldn't have given a fig about the destruction Astarte was wreaking on her descendants. The realisation that not all Halliwell/Warren witches have been the proactive force for good that the Charmed Ones are was disappointing for me.
Overall a highly recommended addition to the Charmed fanfic collection.