Editorial Review: Broomstick by A.L Hawke
Broomstick, by A.L. Hawke, is a dramatic supernatural mystery, revealing the secrets and twists in a campus coven. Fans of witchcraft and dark occult stories will enjoy discovering the supernatural along with Cadence.
College student Cadence agrees to check out a special campus club when her best friend, Maddie, drags her to a professor’s house. But this is more than mentorship or an extra credit project, instead, these students gather to perform rituals and dance naked in the moonlight. Maddie is intrigued from the start, but our heroine, Cadence, isn’t sure whether her interest is the pull of latent magical powers or the pull of handsome coven member Bryce. From the start, this novel blends college life with occult adventures.
Cadence's family story, the college history, and the coven all interconnect in intriguing and surprising ways. Small details mentioned in a joking ghost story about the Hawthorne College spirits return again and again, in a well-crafted backstory for the supernatural events that follow.
Readers will question this coven and its goals, right along with Cadence. Charismatic professor Alondra Johansen and her shady partner lead a group of college girls and one young man into explorations of witchcraft. The young witches are excited to learn and explore their growing powers, and they may be willing to pay a high price to belong.
Alondra is one of the most intriguing characters in this novel. A strong professor, with popular history classes, she encourages her students to question their religious and moral beliefs. Alondra’s academic classes and special coven teachings blend well, leading naive Cadence towards shocking realizations. Alondra is a unique character, with surprising motives and dramatic choices, and she constantly encourages Cadence to make her own choices, even when the two women don't agree. Alondra’s combined role of professor, mother figure, and powerful witch makes her a fascinating character and major propellant of Cadence’s discoveries.
Unfortunately, this vibrant character overshadows many of the novel’s other characters. There’s very little differentiation between the minor women of the coven, for example. Cadence and Bryce’s romance felt slightly flat, with more focus on Bryce’s jawline than any personality traits, shared interests, or emotional connection. Some moments, like Cadence squealing over Bryce saying hello to her, or the heavy emphasis on virginity, seemed aimed at YA readership. Basic descriptions keep this relationship feeling dull, which hinders any steamy scenes.
Although intrigued by Alondra, Cadence doesn’t feel like things are quite right in the witches’ circle. If all the young witches are enjoying their participation and no one is being mistreated in the coven, then why is coven-member Mira so depressed? Cadence asks herself, again and again, what Mira has to be so depressed about. What really happened to Maddie at her initiation? The coven has a dark side, which perfectly combines dark witchcraft with the real-life threat of predatory older men and inexperienced young girls.
Readers will discover supernatural powers and creepy secrets along with our sweet heroine Cadence. This occult mystery will intrigue readers with many twists and surprises, connecting multiple threads of Cadence’s story.