Happy Halloween everyone! To celebrate this time of year, we decided to reread one of our favorite series about witches: The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith. We read the original trilogy: The Initiation, The Captive and The Power. While we love the other three books: The Divide, The Hunt and The Temptation, they were actually written later by ghost writer Aubrey Clark. We decided to stick with the original books to get us into the Halloween spirit.
The Initiation and the Captive Part I
Cassie Blake is spending her summer on Cape Cod with her mother. Near the end of her stay, Cassie and her pseudo-friend Portia are out on the beach when a mysterious guy with his dog walks by. Portia warns Cassie against “those types of people.” Cassie has no idea what Portia means, but when she runs into the mysterious guy later in the day, she helps him without question. After, she can’t stop thinking about him and why he might’ve been on the run.
A few days later, Cassie can’t wait to go home to California. But her mom drops a bomb: they’re staying in Massachusetts and moving to New Salem, the town her mother grew up in and her grandmother currently lives in. Cassie’s devastated, but she has a shred of hope that she’ll see the mysterious guy again.
Everything on the island of New Salem is strange. The large house Cassie’s grandmother lives in looks rundown on the outside, a group of teens at her new school act like they own the place and everyone else seems to be afraid of something. Cassie just can’t seem to fit in. Not when bad girl Faye Chamberlin and her friends Suzan and Deborah are determined to make her life miserable.
When the trio goes too far one day, Cassie is saved by Diana Meade, who is determined to help Cassie get her bearings. But Diana is a member of the same club as Faye and her posse, leading Cassie to wonder how these girls have anything in common.
Cassie wants to join the club, especially to become closer to Diana and her friends Melanie and Laurel, but they tell her they need to keep her out for her own good. Everything changes when Kori Henderson, the younger brother of twin club members Chris and Doug, is killed. Suddenly, a spot in the club opened up and Cassie finds herself being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night to her initiation ceremony. Every member of the club is actually a witch and so is Cassie. Without Kori, they need a 12th member to complete the circle.
Cassie is so excited to be a part of the Circle with everyone, even the people she hates. But that changes after she’s initiated, because the mysterious guy walks along the beach to the group. Turns out he’s Adam Conant, Diana’s boyfriend, who has been away all summer looking for magical objects. Too bad for Cassie she’s falling hard for her new best friend’s guy.
To make things worse, Adam found a crystal skull and when the Circle tries to use it for power, it awakens a type of dark magic…which leads to residents of New Salem winding up dead in freaky ways. Cassie is thrown into the world of dark magic, while trying to figure out her love life.
It felt so great to be back into the world of the New Salem witches with The Initiation and The Captive Part I. While the book starts out a bit slow, it’s so worth sticking with it. Once Cassie gets to New Salem, the drama and magic begin.
We really like Cassie as an MC. She starts out as shy and scared, but eventually learns to develop her power and stand up for herself. She’s brave, creative and willing to prove herself to everyone else. We love that she ends up winning respect from every member of the circle, even Faye. She also gains confidence in the romance department. While we have to admit we’re not the biggest Adam fans, we loved the scene when Cassie goes to the Homecoming dance and a lot of the guys take notice.
Overall, the characters are so well done. When you have a group of 12 people, it could easily get confusing. It doesn’t at all! All 12 Circle members have distinct personalities and are impossible to confuse. For example, Diana is the mom of the group, while Faye is the quintessential bad girl who will do anything to gain power for herself. Shoutout to our favorite member: Nick Armstrong. We love this brooding love interest for Cassie. While he’s the silent and strong type, he’s insanely protective of Cassie from the beginning and doesn’t put up with any BS.
The plot is also fascinating. We mentioned before it does start out slower and really picks up later, especially when Cassie joins the Circle and starts learning about her family’s past and magical abilities. We loved the attention to detail and how some of the members are drawn to certain elements. There’s also attention to crystals, plants, and the history witches in the United States.
If you’re looking for a book full of dark magic, romance, witches and mystery, pick up the first installment of The Secret Circle. You won’t be disappointed. This book is sold as the first book and the first half of the second book.
The Captive Part II and The Power
The Captive Part II and The Power picks up right where the first installment left off. Cassie Blake is in over her head. The Circle politics keep getting more contentious, she’s hiding stuff from Diana, she has to stay away from Adam and worst of all, Faye has dirt on her.
As more residents of New Salem wind up dead, the Circle starts to realize a connection between the dark magic of the crystal skull that Adam found and what’s been happening. Unfortunately, the Circle has no idea how to stop it. Plus, a mysterious new resident named John Brunswick comes to town who seems to exactly why this dark magic can’t be controlled. He’s someone who wants to take advantage of a united circle.
Can Cassie and the rest of the Circle work together to save their town or will some of the members choose to follow this new town resident in the quest for control of dark magic?
The second installment is even better than the first. We really get to see Cassie learn how to control her powers and play an even bigger part in the Circle. She also really stands up for herself, especially when it comes to Faye, who is the absolute worst.
Earlier this year we did a post on Unpopular YA Book Opinions where we talked about our least favorite couples. Spoiler alert: We mentioned Cassie and Adam. Adam and Cassie are supposed to be destined for each other, even though he’s dating Diana. Adam should have stayed with Diana and let Cassie be with Nick, who she dates in this book. Cassie and Nick have amazing chemistry and balance each other out. Nick gets more depth in this book and we love seeing how his past and family life impacted him. Plus, he is a total sweetheart of a boyfriend and deserved better!
The other Circle members all played a big role as well. We liked that Cassie developed real friendships with Suzan and Deborah, who pulled away from Faye in this installment. Plus, all the other members have grown to respect Cassie and look to her for guidance.
The plot has gotten even darker, especially in The Power. Everything that has happened thus far starts to make sense. Especially when we get a backstory of how magic arrived in New Salem and what happened to the Circle’s parents to make them all hate magic. A dark force has been waiting along time for another Circle to finally have 12 members and it will make sure that its power is increased. The last fifty pages are so intense. Without giving away too much, Cassie must face off with the last person she ever expected to see in person. Nothing and no one in New Salem will ever be the same again.
Overall, pick up this original trilogy for a great series about a coven of witches. The best part of The Secret Circle is we can reread it over and over again without growing tired of it. You won’t want to miss any of the action.