Severed Ties by Angie Skelhorn/Witchskel

Severed TiesSevered Ties by Angie Skelhorn/Witchskel
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Severed Ties was a short read and mercifully so. While definitely well-written (the author knows her craft) this story missed some key aspects that kept it from achieving the full 10 out of 10 stars, ranking in at 5 for this reader.

The synopsis is spot on as to describing the plot but what I immediately noticed is that the “inner city” that Sandra and Frankie move to is never identified by name, location, geographic area. Specific streets are named when scrying for Candice produces results indicating to me that this was set in some actual city somewhere but the author never gives us that answer. I found it hard to connect with the story fully from the beginning due to this lack of information.

Correspondingly it takes the entire story to explain exactly how Sandra, Frankie and Candice know each other. I’m not sure if the author has written other works in which these characters have been previously featured and this story is something additional but there was a disappointing lack of familiarizing the reader with who these women were.

It is clear the author knows her magic and there are two sides to this coin for me. The story moves very quickly into discussion of magic and magical abilities through such practices as tarot reading, scrying, spell-casting, and communing with spirits. This is an area of study that appeals to this reader for a variety of reasons all going to the point of making me a fan of this subject and genre but there was very little easing a “newbie” into what a few things meant. The characters rely a great deal on their tarot decks but the author doesn’t spend much time at all in explaining what some of the cards meant when they came up, providing only the character’s automatic knowledge and response. I am unfamiliar with tarot and found this assumption that the reader should have that same intimate familiarity to be a disappointment. If you’ve watched at least two or three episodes of “Charmed” you’ll understand about 60% of what the characters are talking about. However if you are someone who does have that intimate familiarity this aspect wouldn’t be a turn off. In fact it’s something you probably wouldn’t even notice.

I found Frankie’s narrow-mindedness tedious and often smirked along with Calvin in agreement with a great deal of his sentiments. Sandra spends quite a bit of time giving her pep talks and speaks more like she is twice Frankie’s age rather than being roughly the same. I almost thought of Sandra as more like Frankie’s older maternal guide than her closest friend and because the author never clarifies exactly how old these girls are beyond inferring they’re still in high school I was consistently confused.

It may have been advertent to make Frankie an intensely naïve and potentially sheltered character but I found this to have a “preachy” element, hence my agreement with some of Calvin’s observations regarding Frankie’s opinions of Candice’s life choices. At times it read as though the author was writing from a stereotyping viewpoint rather than having experienced any of the darker elements Candice’s life revolved around.

There just wasn’t enough connective, familiarizing detail to make this a story that I could easily relate to. Therefore it was difficult to embrace the characters, their backgrounds, relationships or their motivations beyond something that felt formulaic – a series of ill applied elements woven around a proficient knowledge of Wicca (I’m guessing this is as close as I can get to describing some of the girls’ beliefs but again this is one more detail never specified) in order to showcase the author’s knowledge.

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