In the third installment of de la Cruz’s Witches of East End series, the Beauchamp family must rescue one of their number from being hanged as a witch—again.
When we last left the Beauchamps, who are not only witches, but also Norse deities, the escape of Joanna Beauchamp’s long-lost son Freddie (Fryr) from limbo was causing all manner of repercussions, not least the whisking of daughter Freya (goddess of love) back to Salem just in time for the notorious witch trials. When Freya awakens in 1692 Salem, she has no memory of her past (or future). An apparent orphan, she is taken as an indentured servant into the household of Thomas Putnam, the sanctimonious and scheming farmer who was the prime mover of the witch trials. Freya soon discovers she has magical powers, very helpful in getting the endless round of Puritan women’s work done. Freya’s eternal beloved, Killian (the god Balder), appears in the guise of an eligible bachelor, whose good looks have also attracted Freya’s fellow servant and fickle friend, Mercy. Crazed by jealousy, Mercy reveals that she witnessed Freya causing cows to milk themselves and potatoes to self-harvest. Then Mercy joins the attention-seeking teenage girls whose feigned mass hysteria dooms so many accused Salem witches. Meanwhile, in the present, Freya’s family works feverishly to find a way to interrupt the witch hunt. Her parents, Joanna (Earth goddess Skadi) and Nord, aka Norman, were warned by an Oracle that although Freya, along with her sister Ingrid (hearth goddess Erda), was reincarnated after being hanged at Salem, Freya will not return to Midgard (Earth) if executed a second time. Though an introductory summary and a family tree help to keep these complex relationships, worlds and dual identities straight, too many subplots and characters, not to mention the increasingly impenetrable Norse arcana, draw focus away from the more coherent and compelling Salem plotline.
Some readers may struggle to pay attention.