Witching Moon
by Rebecca York, paranormal (2003)
Berkley, $5.99, ISBN 0-425-19278-4

Rebecca York's Witching Moon suffers from underwritten characters that also plague the previous two books of this self-touted "thrillogy" (Killing Moon and Edge Of The Moon) but it also has the added flaw of underdeveloped plot. This book leaves too many questions unanswered at the end of the day.

It all begins with the murder of the head ranger of the Nature's Refuge in the swamps of Olakompa in Wayland, Georgia. Our lycanthrope hero Adam Marshall is the new head ranger. When he stumbles upon a group of weirdos getting high from the fumes from a burning plant and having an orgy, he becomes suspicious of the weird going-on in the Olakompa, especially when these weirdos start to understandably open fire at the pervert that is spying on them. The arrival of botanist Sara Weston complicates matters when it becomes apparent that these same weirdos are after Sara for some mysterious reasons. Sara has her own problems: she has the ubiquitous "Where's my daddy?" blues typical of a romantic suspense heroine but she is also a witch with powers she is trying hard to deny. Adam and Sara will fall in love amidst the weird going-ons in the Olakompa swamps.

On one hand, Witching Moon has a very interesting plot that culminates in a pretty exciting confrontation between every one that has a role to play in the mystery. Unfortunately, the author merely skims the surface where most of the components of the plot is concerned. Sara's past is largely undefined and Adam's is even more sketchy. The more interesting components of the plot - witchcraft, werewolf, hallucinogenic herbs - are also never given more than a cursory treatment. Readers that haven't read Killing Moon may end up wondering why an American werewolf is chanting Druidic words when he transforms into a werewolf. I believe that Sara is supposed to be a Wiccan, but she is Wiccan as Buffy's Willow is a lesbian (that is, not at all convincing). If the author has taken some time to develop the backstory as well as the paranormal components of her story instead of just mentioning them in a superficial manner, Witching Moon won't be as fluffy as it ends up being.

Since the characters are too underwritten to be memorable, the romance between them doesn't ring real either. It is only in the last chapter that our two main characters finally start to know each other. Before that, Adam is lusting after Sara, but other than lust, there is actually very little of anything else in their relationship.

Witching Moon closes Rebecca York's paranormal romantic suspense trilogy for Berkley. It's an exciting project with so many possibilities, but unfortunately, the overall result has been a half-baked trilogy that could have been so much more but just isn't. Since Ms York has demonstrated that she has the ideas, I hope she can find a way to put these ideas onto paper in more meaty and focused way instead of just beating around the bush and hinting at the fabulous aspects of her stories that never actually come through.

Rating: 65

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