When Katy Jessevar arrives at boarding school in Whitfield, Massachusetts, it doesn’t take her long to figure out that the town is crawling with secrets—some of which implicate her deceased mother. Katy never knew her mother, but she soon discovers that she was a descendant of the twenty-seven families who originally settled Whitfield.
Who are, of course, witches.
Many of the townspeople are hostile to Katy, and she must discover the real reasons for her mother’s infamy. Why did she commit an atrocity and then proceed to set herself on fire? The mystery of Katy’s mother’s death is tied up in the centuries-old tangle of love, evil, and sacrifice. It’s a mystery that Katy must solve in order to save those she loves.
Legacy is an interesting story, but it takes a long time to gain momentum. The introductions to the witchcraft, the family relationships, and the romance are either abrupt, melodramatic, or both. For the first hundred pages I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to be able to take Legacy seriously.
Too many of the characters stray into stereotype territory. Although the motherly cook, the angst-ridden love interest, the absent-minded professor father, and his corporate snake of a girlfriend aren’t 100% caricature, they certainly aren’t 100% original.
But Legacy has a winner in Katy. She is intelligent and humorous without being too irreverent. The spunk in her first-person narration rings true: she sounds and acts sixteen. Her relationship with Peter Shaw, the aforementioned love interest, is extremely hot-and-cold. I didn’t even bother keeping track of whether or not they were getting along.
There is a remarkable variety of talents among the witches. Some are clairvoyant, some psychometric (they can “feel” an object’s history just by touching it–a cool term I hadn’t heard before), and some control the weather. There are a few fantastic pranks and demonstrations of power, but some elements of the magic are bland. Concepts such as The Great Book of Secrets or The Darkness are practically self-explanatory.
Despite all my initial doubt, Legacy salvages itself as it gets closer to the end. As the clock races and tension builds, Katy’s encounters with ancient magic become more imaginative and dramatic. The serious tone that had been incongruous with the utterly unsubtle introduction finally matched the gravity of events, and the impetus of climax propelled me to the finish.
While Legacy didn’t exactly knock my socks off, it has just enough flair to be a decently good read.
Bridget is a high school senior who is delighted to be writing (a favorite activity) about books (a favorite subject). Her favorite genre is fantasy, but she has been known to have an eclectic taste. Her other loves are music, dancing, and history.