The Secret Circle: The Initiation and The Captive Part I by L.J. Smith – 396 pages
Cassie and her mother are forced to move from California and come live with Cassie’s grandmother in an ancient house in the island town of New Salem, Massachusetts. Cassie quickly learns the high school is dominated by a select group of students known as the Club. After a first few awkward weeks with some harassment by some Club members, Cassie is befriended by their leader, Diana, and becomes part of their circle. When properly initiated, she learns the truth: the club is a coven, and she and the others are heirs of a long line of witches. Diana’s boyfriend Adam unearths a powerful magic tool that, when they attempt to use it, unleashes ancient dark energy. Cassie and the others must find out who is behind a string of murders, and hunt down the dark energy to recapture it.
While this book has many elements found in so much popular fiction, it’s so well-written that it felt fresh and compelling. Cassie is secretly in love with Diana’s boyfriend, and is blackmailed and manipulated by the devious Faye. She undergoes a wealth of emotions as she struggles with choices, and begins to open up to the magic powers within her. The details of the strange island town and elements like a hidden history of witchcraft helped create a believable world. I raced through this book in one sitting, and picked up the concluding volume immediately after. If it is as good as the first, I will be looking for more books to read by this author.