A perfectly pleasant and inoffensive teen supernatural romance, with a pair of rather dim-witted central characters. The writing’s sloppy, with most of the reveals, plot twists and drama condensed into the final scenes, not to mention a giant cop-out, and supposedly key characters are not introduced until halfway through the book, like they were just forgotten about until it proved useful to have them around. Other than that there’s very little to say either for or against it.

Except maybe this: Twilight, as much criticism as it’s due, at least understood what the teen supernatural romance genre was about. It was about sex and death. As anemic and repressed as the sex and death is in that ubiquitous teen novel are, there is at least the threat of death and the promise of sex. The transgressive nature of supernatural monsters, be it the dead in life, the human in animal, all appeal to the nature of ambiguity in sex, its inherent danger, which is most keenly felt when first discovered in the teenage years. Twilight at least had a girl with a sex drive, it at least had a sense of risk and the possibility of loss. This book is full of people petting each other’s hair and kissing without any hint at more. This book’s ‘peril’ is an achingly slow countdown to be whether a lassie will become a good witch or a bad witch, no death or world-ending calamity. It lacks any real danger, any real passion.

Or maybe the thing that bugged me was it trading so heavily on civil war era romanticism. The idea that the plot is all linked back to the disasters of the civil war, whose real victims were the rich, white, plantation-owning Southerners. The fact that the modern-day protagonist is being raised by his ‘Mammy’, a cajoling, voodoo-practicing, black woman who acts as maid-cum-mother and is the direct descendant of the slave woman who was part of the civil war era storyline. The constant reinforcement of the civil war as being a ‘War of Northern Aggression’, with slavery censored right out of the equation, and the idea we are supposed to give the protagonist points for being slightly uncomfortable with all this and not flying the Confederate flag. Just . . . ugghhh.