Author: Darynda Jones
Narrator: Traci Odom
Audiobook Length: 8 hours
Divorced, desperate, and destitute, former restaurateur Defiance Dayne finds out she has been bequeathed a house by a complete stranger. She is surprised, to say the least, and her curiosity gets the better of her. She leaves her beloved Phoenix and heads to one of the most infamous towns in America: Salem, Massachusetts.
She’s only there to find out why a woman she’s never met would leave her a house. A veritable castle that has seen better days. She couldn’t possibly accept it, but the lawyer assigned to the case practically begs her to take it off her hands, mostly because she’s scared of it. The house. The inanimate structure that, as far as Dephne can tell, has never hurt a fly.
Though it does come with some baggage. A pesky neighbor who wants her gone. A scruffy cat who’s a bit of a jerk. And a handyman bathed ink who could moonlight as a supermodel for GQ.
She decides to give it three days, and not because of the model. She feels at home in Salem. Safe. But even that comes to a screeching halt when people begin knocking on her door day and night, begging for her help to locate their lost objects.
Come to find out, they think she’s a witch. And after a few mysterious mishaps, Dephne is beginning to wonder if they’re right.
Betwixt is the first novel in the Betwixt and Between series. The series is described as paranormal women’s fiction and it definitely fits the series, at least so far. Additionally, this novel seems to be an urban fantasy story. The main character is going through many life changes that happen to include an introduction into a magical world. Traci Odom fits extremely well as a narrator as she gives just the right amount of sass to the narration of the story.
Defiance (Dephne) Dayne is a 44-year-old recently divorced woman whose ex got everything and she left almost broke and alone. I love the refreshing take on a main character that is older (in her mid-40s) and she admits that she was very naïve in her marriage. It was nice to show a character that is not perfect, no matter their age, and still have a lot more learning to go. It is something that is relatable to people at any age as learning never stops. Unexpectedly she receives an inheritance for a house in Salem, Massachusetts. She takes off from Arizona to check out the next adventure and her best friend, Annette eventually joins in.
Salem is the same as the one that most people will be familiar with as there are the small-town East Coast vibe with the witch-y history. The house, named Percival (“Percy”), that Defiance inherited seems to have a personality all of its own and comes with a cat, Ink, and a mysterious caretaker, Roane. At first Defiance has no idea why she was given the house, but soon many secrets are revealed and her connection to the house becomes clear.
The series sets up the characters well as Defiance goes from being completely oblivious to the paranormal world to being placed right in the middle. She thought only had her father and his husband left, but she gained a new family with the introduction of new members both blood related and found family. With her new knowledge that she is a witch, she has to navigate her new powers while those around her have high expectations. On the other hand, she is unsure if she even wants the powers in the first place.
The novel is full of quirky characters that help to make this a light-hearted read. Defiance’s magic is one of the best and worst kept secrets to those around her, yet the exact details remain a mystery. It is a compelling take on the world of magic as the character can more or less openly discuss her powers with those that do not have any. The characters were likeable as a whole, but there are moments that can be super frustrating, especially with Defiance who lives up to her name towards the beginning of the story. The writing is relatable as it felt very natural and made this an easy read. The pacing, like with most series, is slow at the beginning as it takes a while to set up the characters and story. It does pick up once some of the secrets are revealed and it should be smooth sailing starting in the next novel. There is a slight cliffhanger at the end of this novel, but nothing incredibly intense where you feel you need to immediately pick-up the next novel. Most likely I will pick up the next novel, but as this is an incomplete series (book four releases later this year), I am trying to pace myself. So far, this is a promising start to a fun and cozy series. There is nothing super over the top to set it apart, but it is entertaining and keeps me wanting to read more. This is a fun series that is a great introduction to Darynda Jones and I cannot wait to read more.