A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.
For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.
Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.
The Vine Witch honestly drove me to drink. Not because it was so awful, but because Smith wrote such seductive and bewitching descriptions of the wine that I needed a glass… or a bottle. Or three. This tale follows Elane who has been taught how to make the most magnificent wine at Château Renard, one of the top vineyards, since she was a child. She lives and breathes making wine and wants to make it nowhere else. From the descriptions alone you can tell how much she loves the vineyard and the art of crafting such fine wine and wants nothing more than to take over the vineyard and continue winemaking for the rest of her days. Coming home after 7 years of being cursed to live as a toad and finding a rich and handsome stranger has bought the vineyard throws a bit of a wrench in her future plans, beyond the whole being cursed part. Not only was she cursed, but it appears the vineyard was as well and has yet to put out a decent bottle of wine since her departure.
The book is told from two perspectives; Elena a vine witch and Jean-Paul the rich city boy who believes in science over magic. It was such a good juxtaposition between science and the supernatural and how they come to work together and not only create good wine but take on evil forces lurking to destroy Elena and Château Renard. We also get a little romance between the two, although it felt more like lust than love. I felt like I never really got to know the characters, even though I know a lot about them, or that they really got to know each other enough to fall in love.
The magic in this book was so intricate. I loved that there were so many different kinds and ranges of witches. There are those predominate in the vineyards, vine witches, along with beer witches, poisoners, genie-like witches and those with bedroom talents. It was so interesting and something I hope is explored more in later books. Also, the idea of a bakery that caters in treats of love due to magic blew my mind and added just a whole other layer to the intricacies of magic within this story.
I really loved how the plot unfolded and was pretty fast-paced. In the beginning we think everything, who cursed Elena and the vineyard, to be pretty clean cut and that this is going to be a story of revenge. It’s really not and had so much more going on behind the scenes. I feel like we get a clear resolution in the end though and I’m curious to see what the next two books will be about. Overall it was a quick read that kept me engaged and might have turned me into a lush, or at the least helped me find a new love and appreciation for wine. I’m excited for the second book and to see how Elena and Jean-Paul’s relationship and partnership will grow.