Summary from Goodreads:
After casting out a dark spirit, Callie McFay, a professor of gothic literature, has at last restored a semblance of calm to her rambling Victorian house. But in the nearby thicket of the Honeysuckle Forest, and in the currents of the rushing Undine River, more trouble is stirring...
The enchanted town of Fairwick’s dazzling mix of mythical creatures has come under siege from the Grove: a sinister group of witches determined to banish the fey back to their ancestral land. With factions turning on one another, all are cruelly forced to take sides. Callie’s grandmother, a prominent Grove member, demands her granddaughter’s compliance, but half-witch/half-fey Callie can hardly betray her friends and colleagues at the college.
To stave off disaster, Callie enlists Duncan Laird, an alluring seductive academic who cultivates her vast magical potential, but to what end? Deeply conflicted, Callie struggles to save her beloved Fairwick, dangerously pushing her extraordinary powers to the limit—risking all, even the needs of her own passionate heart.
Juliet Dark’s first book, The Demon Lover, was a vivid and atmospheric gothic novel, one that I enjoyed far more than I anticipated. I had pretty high expectations for the sequel, and I think that, in some ways, my expectations were met, though in others they weren’t. I did enjoy The Water Witch, and I plan to continue with this series, but at the same time, this book did have some obvious flaws.
The number one obvious flaw here was a complete lack of direction or purpose. Of course, Juliet Dark’s novels are anything but conflict-driven, but the meandering, aimless storyline of The Water Witch was a teensy bit ridiculous. A quarter-way into the book, nothing had really happened except for a few fey-related mishaps. Halfway through, a semblance of a plot made its appearance, but it was quickly lost to a morass of seemingly unimportant trivial details. I was honestly surprised when I realized I’d reached the final chapter–since there had been no discernible conflict, rising action, or climax, and the resolution was left open-ended to make room for the upcoming sequel. I suppose, then, that The Water Witch isn’t a novel so much as an assemblage of half-baked story parts, combined into a single volume.
With that in mind, and in spite of the fact that this book was a little, well…boring, there was still something charming about this book. Callie McFay is a likable protagonist with a good head on her shoulders, the town of Fairwick has a great gothic atmosphere (though less so in The Water Witch than in The Demon Lover), and there’s a captivating quality in Dark’s prose that I enjoyed, in spite of the disappointing nature of its content.
Because of the inconsistent nature of this book’s plot, it’s a bit hard to summarize the story, but everything more or less picked up right after the conclusion of The Demon Lover. Callie is adjusting to her newfound knowledge of the paranormal, dealing with relationship issues, and juggling conflict with the ranks of fey and witches. The foundation for a strong story, honestly, isn’t hard to find, which is why I’m so confused as to why Dark didn’t manage to pull it off.
The incubus element is still present, though, as it was before. Sex wasn’t as big a focus as it was in the first book, however (seeing as Callie put her incubus lover in chains and sent him to hell). I do have a slight issue with the Callie/incubus romance, simply because the incubus has consistently lied to her and given her false information, and I don’t really see how she can trust him. She said in The Demon Lover that “there’s more to love than being good in the sack,” but it seems like all they do is have sex while Callie guesses which of the men in her life the incubus is disguised as this time. Strong relationship based on a lack of trust? I don’t buy it, personally.
There is, honestly, not much for me to say about The Water Witch. I enjoyed it because I was already invested in the story and characters. Other readers may not like it at all, depending on how the felt about the first book or about a rambling plot. But definitely, I don’t think this was nearly as good as The Demon Lover. Final consensus: read this if you REALLY liked Juliet Dark’s first novel (for reasons other than plot!).