Review: Familiar Things by Lia Habel

November 19, 2014 Reviews 0 ★★★★½

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Familiar Things by Lia HabelFamiliar Things by Lia Habel
Series: A Book of All Hollows #1
Published by Kitten Perfume Publishing on October 28, 2014
Pages: 297
Format: eARC
Source: the author
Goodreads
My rating: four-half-stars
Sixteen-year-old witch Everrose Morgantwill isn’t sure which monster is causing her more trouble—the ten-foot-tall wildcat she’s attracted as her familiar, or her emotionally unstable boyfriend.

Half her spells go nowhere, and people always have trouble remembering her name, but even so—Everrose’s life is idyllic. Born and raised in All Hollows County, a secretive world created by powerful witches and warlocks for the protection of the magically inclined, she’s never had to fear persecution. In All Hollows, magic is used openly. A great spell known as the Nestle Ward isolates and protects it, though there is one odd little side effect.

In our world, it’s 2015. In All Hollows, it’s 1958.

Between sewing the perfect high school wardrobe, experimenting with red lipstick and cake mascara, and dreaming about prom, Everrose has a lot on her mind. When her steady boyfriend returns from a trip to “the Layside” a changed warlock, however—she notices. Handsome Vincent Olwen was affectionate and self-effacing when he left, but he’s come back acting sullen and withdrawn. Everrose is lost for an explanation—and lost for what to do.

Troubled by the changes she sees in Vincent, Everrose tries to distract herself by searching for her first familiar—a rite of passage for sixteen-year-olds in All Hollows. But when she does make the Connexion, it’s with the last animal she would’ve ever expected—a massive, terrifying wildeor called a trothenbeast. Only powerful witches and warlocks attract wildeors as familiars. Yet, when it comes to magic, Everrose is completely inept. It makes no sense. Weirder still, the beast fails to alert Everrose to the presence of magic, and refuses to shadow her. In short, he doesn’t act like a protecting, guiding familiar animal at all.

Faced with all of this, Everrose is just about ready to throw in the towel. Before she can, though, she learns that the trothenbeast has been cursed by an evil witch named Ebonella Rosu—and that Ebonella wants him back.

Everrose must contend with a witch who wants her dead, a familiar who needs her protection, and a boyfriend who’s changing before her eyes. When she finally reaches out for help, she finds it from an unlikely source—her boyfriend’s moody, somewhat mysterious father, the mayor of her little town. What secrets does Roderick Olwen harbor? And what do they have to do with Everrose herself?

I’ve been a huge Lia Habel fan ever since I read Dearly, Departed in 2011. Three years later and Dearly, Departed remains near the top of my favorite’s list! So when I saw she had a new book coming out, I jumped on the chance to read and review it! And let me tell you, it definitely did not dissapoint! I had so much fun reading Familiar Things! At its core, it’s a witch book. But Familiar Things is much more than just a witch book. The world-building was incredible, the unique twists kept me engaged and the wonderful characters made me feel like I was reading about real people.

I usually start a review off by discussing the characters, but this time I want to start with the world-building. The book is set in All Hollows. The best way I can describe it is, it’s a world parallel to ours (which, in the book, is called the Layside). It’s very similar to the human world except it’s for witches and warlocks and other magical creatures. Oh, and while it’s 2015 in the Layside, it’s 1958 in All Hollows. I loved the tone this time period set for the book. It meant there was no modern technology – no cell phones, no tablets, no internet, old-fashioned cars, etc. The characters’ speech, dress and behaviors/actions reflected that of the 1950’s. For example, Everrose’s boyfriend “pinned her” and they said things such as “golly” and “swell.” I basically pictured the characters and outfits from Grease!

The idea that it was 1958 in All Hollows and 2015 in the Layside was so intriguing. And the effect that has on the characters – especially one in particular – is fascinating. I think the time period is perfect for this book and it wouldn’t have been the same book if it had taken place in modern times. I can’t really explain it any more than that without getting repetitive, but I really, really loved the time period and what it meant for the story.

I loved Everrose. She was such an awesome character. She felt really relatable. There was nothing cliche about her; she wasn’t the unpopular girl that suddenly became popular and she wasn’t an ordinary girl who suddenly received special powers. Everrose was a typical girl. She wasn’t popular but she wasn’t an outcast. When we’re introduced to her, she already has powers, but she’s considered a mediocre witch. Everyone always seems to forget about her, but she always treats everyone with kindness and respect, even when they don’t deserve it. Everrose is also behind on an important rite of passage for young witches – finding a familiar. This rite of passage really spurs the story on and creates all sorts of problems for Everrose.

Summerlene is supposed to be Everrose’s best friend but woooowwww, I really just wanted to slap her. Like, for most of the book. She’s SUCH a bad friend. A lot of that gets explained by the end, but her actions still turned my stomach. Maple, Everrose’s little sister, was also a major brat and really annoyed me for the majority of the book. She gets Everrose into a LOT of trouble.

Vincent is supposed to be the love interest in the book but man, he scared me… He was mean, self-centered and obsessed with the Layside. He wasn’t a good boyfriend at all and he almost always put his needs first. Of course, again, that was partially explained in the end but I still don’t like him at all.

Typhon was one of my favorite characters!!! Aside from Everrose, of course. I adored him so much!! In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him but his character development is insane. He’s so intelligent and loyal! I don’t think I can say much else without giving away spoilers, but he was… perfect. I’d love to see where his and Everrose’s friendship/relationship goes in the second book!

As for Major Olwen… I have many, many thoughts… But I’m still conflicted with how I feel about him and his actions. And I don’t want to spoil anything either… So.. *Slinks away.*

Of course, I couldn’t stand Mr. Silversharp or Ebonella. However, I think there’s more to Mr. Silversharp than meets the eye. And I did feel bad for Ebonella to a certain extent. She went through a lot in life and wasn’t always dealt a fair hand.

There were definitely some Beauty & The Beast parallels in Familiar Things, which I loved! I’d love to see these parallels explored more in the second book!

And the ending.. Holy crap. Most intriguing, unique twist in a witch book ever! I completely did NOT see that coming and I really, really loved the explanations and reasons behind everything. This is supposed to be a series and I seriously can’t wait for book two! I’m so in love with this world and these characters, I can’t imagine not being able to get to know them better.

Overall, I loved this book – if you couldn’t tell from my gushing review. I love Lia Habel and I’m so glad she’s doing well and writing again (See this post for more on that). I’ll always have hope in the back of my mind that we’ll get a conclusion to the Dearly series. But authors are people, just like everyone else. Their health and happiness comes before them writing new books. With Familiar Things, I think Lia has come back healthier, happier and stronger. She wrote an amazingly wonderful novel that I count as one of my favorites for 2014.

With that being said, I think you all know what I’m gonna say next…. Go read this book!!!! Sooooo good!!!!!!

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