review: enchanted to meet you (witches of west harbor, #1) by Meg Cabot
Cover Comments: Super cute, and very indicative of what’s in store.
First Lines: “Your mother is magic.”
That’s what my father told me one day when I was nine, and had been sent to my room for being disrespectful.”
Synopsis: In her teenage years, lovelorn Jessica Gold cast a spell that went disastrously wrong, and brought her all the wrong kind of attention—as well as a lifetime ban from the World Council of Witches. So no one is more surprised than Jess when, fifteen years later, tall, handsome WCW member Derrick Winters shows up in her quaint little village of West Harbor and claims that Jess is the Chosen One. Not chosen by West Harbor’s snobby elite to style them for the town’s tricentennial ball—though Jess owns the chicest clothing boutique in town. And not chosen finally to be on the WCW, either—not that Jess would have said yes, anyway, since she’s done with any organization that tries to dictate what makes a “true” witch.
No, Jess has been chosen to help save West Harbor itself . . . But just when Jess is beginning to think that she and Derrick might have a certain magic of their own—and not of the supernatural variety—Jess learns he may not be who she thought he was. And suddenly Jess finds herself having to make another kind of choice: trust Derrick and work with him to combat the sinister force battling to bring down West Harbor, or use her gift as she always has: to keep herself, and her heart, safe.
This book should have been a home run for me. Cozy romance, set in a waterside small town, with witches and a title inspired by a Taylor Swift song? I was programmed to enjoy this. And I did enjoy the start. In the first few chapters, we see teenage Jess’ love spell mishaps and grown-up Jess thriving as a clothing shop owner using small magics to help her customers love their clothes and selves. Heartwarming and fun! But this vibe was unfortunately all the book had going for it.
As soon as Derrick and the main plot about impending doom on West Harbor appeared, any semblance of plot or character building disappeared. The instalove is so so strong in this one. I don’t even mind instalove sometimes, if it’s between two fully fleshed out characters, but everything we know about Jess is surface level, and we know basically nothing about Derrick except that he’s hot. The best part of romances to me are the buildup – the fun, flirty interactions as the two characters get to know one another and become closer as a result. There’s none of that here – just some sex scenes that are meant to be steamy but ultimately fall flat since they happen too soon, with no built-up tension.
The romance is the main focus of the book, and the rest of the plot felt very tacked on as a device to get Jess and Derrick together. There’s some attempt at building a background about witch society that basically equates to Purebloods looking down on others in Harry Potter, with some mythology sprinkled in, but not enough time was spent on any of this to create something interesting. It seemed like Cabot picked out some themes she wanted to talk about and mashed them all together wherever they would go.
The climax comes quickly, with very little actual preparation attempted from Jess, “The Chosen One”, and her teenaged witch friend, “The Bringer of Light”, and it read like a very strange attempt to be woke in a witchy context from someone who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.
I was also not a huge fan of Cabot’s depiction of a plus size character. One of Jess’ main character traits is that she loves to eat candy and often feels compelled to eat in stressful situations. This felt like a weird one-dimensional trait to give a plus size woman in what’s supposed to be a body positive book – it felt like it was saying that a main trait of curvy women is that they’re compulsive or disordered eaters, which is a harmful impression to give.
Overall, this was a fun concept and setting, but the plot and character building just failed to impress me. It was a quick read, so if you just need something with a cute, Stars Hollow-esque small town setting to pique your appetite for fall, maybe give it a try.