I'd give this book 3 1/2 stars. :)
Hillary is an 18-year-old-girl on her way to Hawaii to visit her recently widowed sister, Molly and her daughter, Heidi. Life has been nothing but easy for her, since she has been picked on and bullied at school, mostly by an obnoxious trio of girls, whose leader was initially her friend. Misunderstood and set aside due to the rumor that she is a witch and puts a hex on whoever she wants, Hillary has mostly kept to her self and resents the unwanted animosity from her peers. All she wanted to use wicca incantations for were protection, but through a mistake (not her own) she is somehow thought to actively seek revenge or harm others. Not even her parents fully believe her.
When she arrives at Hawaii and meets her sister, it is only family that greets her but she is unknowingly followed by Moa, a 7-year-old native who has accepted her role as an Ancient Gatekeeper aiding the souls of the deceased to the Light.
It seems that the troubled spirit of George Paulet a former aspiring usurper of the throne in Hawaii, who was prevented from achieving his goal, still thinks he can make it even from beyond the grade, somehow blocking the passage of souls to the Light, thus upsetting the balance that could result in earthquakes etc, even world destruction and Hillary is the only one who can help.
Despite the danger of world destruction that permeates this book, I have to say that it is one of the most light-hearted and feel-good books I have read lately. Not only is it written in a simple, readily-absorbed way, but it also is fun and filled with wiccan spell instructions in every chapter relevant to the issue at hand. I thought it was a nice change and very interesting to read that in relation to the story. As I have no idea regarding Wicca, witchcraft or anything like that, it made for a very engrossing read and at times I felt like it was easy. like I could see myself doing that and really feeling in balance with the universe, at peace, optimistic and unburdened. If only it were that easy! lol
But it did make for a relaxing and lovely read.
Hillary was a very likable heroine, especially having been through all that she has been through and never giving up or loosing her courage. It felt like life gave her lemons and she made lemonade. She made the best of whatever she had and it defined her in a positive light. She was strong, loyal, protective of her family and quite noble and moral.
Molly was a typical older sister, but more importantly she was a mother and I liked how the author paid attention to detail and she had very mother-like reactions towards her daughter and her safety.
Heidi was adorable and very funny as a little girl. She wasa cutie, whereas Moa came across as focused, noble, brave and very affectionate. I loved the parts that were written through her eyes and the little bits and pieces of how life was in her time.
Generally, I found the description clear and imaginative and it really gave me a feel of life in Hawaai or rather the scenery there and maybe a little of the way of life (that and Hawaii 5-0 lol j/k)
I liked the revelations towards the end, I didn't see the twist with Steve's heritage, or Paulet but it was refreshing and clever. I also thought the bits about the healing power of positive thought and how we can heal emotionally and psychologically by revisiting traumatic experiences in another light were quite ingenious and profound.
If I had to say something negative for the book, I would have to say that it was mostly minor editing issues (which may have already been addressed in a more recent version), i.e. the use of present tense instead of past tense like :"The group walked home in silence until they reach the coolness of the front foyer". This happens for a few times throughout the book, but I didn't find it distracting. Another thing is that in the beginning Moa kept saying (2-3 times) that Hillary was in for the adventure of her lifetime and that she alone could save Hawaii and probably the world, but nothing of that happened for several chapters and it was a bit awkward...Then again Moa is supposed to be a 7-year-old child, but she has lived for hundreds of years..so maybe that was it.
And finally, on only one occasion (which I wouldn't normally notice, but it was a short book so I remembered :P)after Heidi is taken to "another dimension", somehow Hillary isn't asleep, but Molly sleeps? After her child is taken? I mean even if Hillary told her she was going to be ok, it didn't feel like something she would do... I mean come on, her child had been taken. :P
But after that she is again heart-breakingly motherly so she redeems herself. :)
Overall, this was a very entertaining and feel-good novel with likable heroines and a good, solid plot, mixed with a lot of the things you'd want to know about wicca, our balance with the universe and how we can better our lives and ourselves. Don't miss it if you want something cute to read.
* Given by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. Thank you :)
(reviewed 14 days after purchase)