Review: Circle of Nine: Beltany by Valerie Biel

Circle of Nine: BeltanyCircle of Nine: Beltany by Valerie Biel My rating: 2 of 5 stars (It's ok)


“Since I was a little girl I’ve been labeled a freak in my small town. There’s no blending in when your mom practices an ancient pagan religion and everyone believes she’s a witch. On my 15th birthday my secret wish is the same as always – to just be normal. But that’s not what I get. Not even close.” – Brigit Quinn


Instead, Brigit is shocked to learn she’s descended from a legendary Celtic tribe - powerful people who serve as guardians of the stone circles of Ireland. A spellbound book of family history reveals the magical powers of her ancestors. Powers that could be hers - if only she wanted them. And when someone sinister and evil returns to steal her family’s strength, Brigit has to make a decision. Fight to keep her unique heritage or reject it for the normal life she’s always wanted.


***Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***


Good idea, flawed execution. (Mini-Spoilers Alert)


I felt like I was reading an ABC After School Special on Witchcraft. Brigit, about to turn fifteen, is about to be indoctrinated in her family's secret Tuatha rituals and learn about her magic bloodline- as is their tradition. She and her mother are the only practitioners in town (so she thinks) but all that begins to change as the High School Hunk, Tyler, suddenly takes notice of her. Turns out Tyler also has a magical lineage, but for some reason doesn't know a thing about it. Which is really odd in Tyler's case as his whole family's in on the magic but no one ever bothered to tell him.


It also could've used a strong editor; so much time is wasted on minutiae and mundane things- driving to school, driving to work, getting dressed, having lunch... it takes over a third of the book before the first remotely interesting event happens. And then you have to wait until almost two-thirds of the way in before the next one occurs. What happens in between is literally the days in the life of a teenaged girl. Days.


The magic suffers from lack of context. Without knowing what the rules are, anything goes- and no one cares. Tyler gets bruised up in a fight and his grandmother gives him some 'magical ointment' and his bruises are gone in a day... and no one notices or cares. Kid breaks his arm and the doctors barely react to his being completely healed within two weeks instead of six.


The villians are cartoonish. The main one has a somewhat justifiable motivation but the others are just cheap plot devices to help set up the ending. Evil deeds have little to no real consequences; everything gets made all better every time. Their shortcomings are as much a result of the stilted dialogue as matching up with good guys all of whom are collectively Too Stupid To Live. Given the signifigance of the (rushed & cliched) happy ending, you'd have thought someone, anyone, would've bothered to actually check up on things at some point during these fifteen years (hint, hint). But since they didn't, it all gets handwaved away in a couple of paragraphs and everything's hunky dory now.


No. It's not.


Again, there's a few kernels of good ideas in here, but it needs a firm hand to tighten it up.