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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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07/23/2004 Archived Entry: "Book review: "Wither's Legacy""

Wither's Legacy
A Wendy Ward Novel
By John Passarella
This edition: Mass Market Paperback
Pub. Date: 10/2004
ISBN: 0743484797
List Price: $7.99

Reviewed by Jessica Groper

This review contains details of plot and character; please proceed at your own risk. Thank you.

Let's say I'm a writer. I want to write a supernatural novel. I create my characters and my plot and it all goes well. I get published and a good response that merits my writing a second book about the same characters. Assuming the publishers and readers are still pleased, I am now poised on the brink of turning my supernatural novel into a series of supernatural novels. I can only guess that this is roughly the way John Passarella came to produce Wither's Legacy, the third book in his Wendy Ward series. Unfortunately Passarella seems to have gotten lost in his pursuit of the supernatural series and lost sight of the individual novel he was creating.

Because I had not read the first two books in this series I was worried that I wouldn't be able to follow the plot. Not to worry, Passarella and his characters rehash the past for a good two thirds of the entire book. The young Wiccan, Wendy Ward and her posse of friends: Kayla, Hannah, Alex, and Abby have all been deeply traumatized by their narrow escapes from the dark magical forces that keep popping up around them. All of the evil schemes by Wendy's arch nemesis the witch Wither are retold as each character deals with his or her own emotional and physical scars. The characters are so self-involved that it is only halfway through the book that Wendy even realizes she is being hunted by a demon and that her life and the lives of many others are again at stake.

A demon? Well, yes, of course. Apparently in the second book Wendy managed to kill Wither; so the series needed a new bad guy. With her dying breath Wither cursed Wendy and summoned a demon to rise up and kill her. The readers get to enjoy watching this demon awaken and begin its pursuit of Wendy, in between scenes of a completely clueless Wendy still feeling guilty about the death of her parents, the trouble she's brought into her friends' lives, and all sorts of other worries. Eventually the mysterious creature is identified as a wendigo - some sort of snow demon. While it is tracking Wendy it has flashbacks to its previous incarnation as a French Trapper in the unsettled American frontier. The wendigo is merciless and terrible, definitely the enemy of our heroes, so why Passarella took the time to give it a history is really beyond me. Perhaps it's just another character who has suffered trauma and must spend this book mourning what it once was.

It is only in the last one hundred pages of the book that we finally get some action. The wendigo finally arrives and makes its attack. Wendy's magical skills are put to the test and once again she must protect her friends from danger. Of course not everyone can survive. Fortunately the main characters manage to escape death and the casualties offer more guilt-ridden trauma to haunt their loved ones. At the same time, Wendy is able to face some of her pain and move past the depression that has been plaguing her, and the reader, for the whole book. Unfortunately Wither's curse demands Wendy's death, so no one can rest easy, even with the wendigo dead. There's also a section of the book in which Wendy finds an ancient journal kept by Wither. The journal does not seem to offer any important information, but surely its inclusion in this book isn't accidental. As the writer of a series of supernatural novels knows: it's important to tie your current book back to its predecessors so that the plot makes sense, and tie it to your future books so that readers will want to buy the next one. Unfortunately, this writer didn't pay enough attention to making his third novel in the series very interesting. It is not capable of standing alone as a good book. By reading all of John Passerella's Wither's Legacy, I feel that I know enough about what has happened that I don't need to read his first two books, and I can guess enough about the plots of future books that I don't want to read them.

Replies: 1 Comment

I really like Wither & Wither's Rain and i highly doubt that your review is correct for the larger percentile of readers.

From early sneak-peaks i've being dying to read this book as have many other readers and i know this as a fact.

Obviously, this review will be outnumbered by positive reviews in the near future.

Posted by Chris Cudbertson @ 07/27/2004 03:02 AM PST

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