Secrets of Mother: A Cristiane Bradford Novel
Sirrah Medeiros
Tundra Swan Press (October 14, 2022)
Review by Elaine Pascale

Secrets of Mother is the first book in a series, although it felt like a second or third book as it begins in a way that suggests familiarity with the characters. Cristiane is a novice witch who is looking forward to being initiated into a white magic coven. When she is refused, she learns a shocking secret: her mother is a witch who practices dark magic.

Cristiane has had a complicated relationship with her mother, so she must investigate this secret without her mother’s knowledge. Fortunately, Cristiane has a gaggle of good friends who are willing to put their necks on the line to help her. Together, they face menacing creatures and devastating discoveries.

The good: Secrets of Mother contains cool demons and one of my favorite ancient monsters, Lamashtu. There are also intriguing ghosts and witchcraft aplenty. Allusions are made to various supernatural creatures that I hope make appearances in the subsequent books of the series. Because of the age of the protagonist and the tone, Secrets of Mother has a YA feel and would be a good book for teen readers who are dipping their toes into the dark fantasy pool.

The not-so-good/confusing: there are periodic shifts in point of view in the narrative that are distracting. I was not clear on why Cristiane, who is a novice witch, has so much power and seems to be a “chosen one” in the vein of a Harry Potter-type character. Additionally (I am not sure how else this could have been presented, as structurally Cristiane needed to uncover her mother’s backstory) there is a long soliloquy by the main villain that puts a halt to the action toward the end.

Secrets of Mother is a fun read and one that I would suggest for a YA audience or for those who like their dark fantasy on the lighter side. Cristiane is a spunky character with possibilities for interesting adventures as the series continues.

About Elaine Pascale

Elaine Pascale had been writing her entire life. She lives on Cape Cod with her husband, son and daughter. Her writing has been published in several magazines and anthologies. She is the author of Blood Lights, and If Nothing Else, Eve, We’ve Enjoyed the Fruit. Elaine enjoys a robust full moon, chocolate, and collecting cats.

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