The Noah sisters rule Titan High with their beauty, brains, and magical powers.
Each year they play a secret game: Crushed. The girls pick their targets carefully and blow enchanted dust into the boy’s faces, charming them, but this year Kristen makes a grave mistake. She chooses the wrong boy and almost dies that same day. Coincidence? Maybe.
But something isn’t quite right about Zach Bevian. He doesn’t behave like a boy who’s been Crushed. He goes from hot to cold, from looking at her with contempt to asking her out on a date. She doesn’t know what to think. Does he hate her or is he truly falling for her? Is he trying to kill her, or is he trying to save her?
This YA novel is set in the hallways of fictional Titan High, where three witch sisters – Kristen, Brittany, and Cindi – walk among mortals who are none the wiser to their powers. The puppy loves spell allows them to control their choice, and they increase their power over him by asking him to complete tasks. Each completed task draws him further under the girl’s control. The winner at the end of the semester is the one that has the boy under the most control, and the girl’s aren’t shy about having their choices do ridiculous and humiliating things to test their power. Kristen has plans to be the winner this year so she can afford a spectacular prom dress, when Brittany dares her to “crush” the baddest bad boy in school – Zach Bevian. Suddenly, the boy she hates is under her power, or so she thinks.
Kristen is older than her teenage years, striving to be the “good girl” and living up to the hard expectations that her father has leveled onto her since she was a child. She’s one of the unfortunately beautiful girls, who is smart and witty but floundering socially. They live with their father during the year and mother during the summer, and as the book moves forward we find that Kristen is feeling the noose of adulthood tighten around her neck while she is still young. So what’s a girl to do? Rebel, of course!
Zach Bevian is a young man with a secret, who harbors great resentment for the Noah sisters and their queen-bee behavior in school. Typical bad boy, Zach has the hot car, the hotter motorcycle, and the splendid body that girls drool over. His autistic sister Morgan is all that is left of his family, and he takes great care to not upset their home life. The book switches to his point of view at times, and the reader is given a glimpse into the burdens that weigh him down. I enjoyed that although he’s strong, he’s vulnerable with his sister. It gave his character depth.
Sisters Brittany and Cindi dress identically although they are triplets with Kristen. Cindi is the softer spoken of the two, but when tricked by Kirsten early on in the book, she proves to be just as much a wildcat as Brittany. Brittany is the ultimate bad-girl, skipping school and causing her father and sisters grief, while scheming to get back at Kristen for breaking the rules in the crush game.
I had only two real complaints with the way the characters were drawn in the book. First, the reason for Kristen’s deep hatred of Zach isn’t very clear. Although she knows him and he knows her, they don’t appear to hang in the same social circles, so the hate and the disgust at having to “crush” him seemed tacked on. We know why he doesn’t like her or her sisters, we just don’t know why she doesn’t like him. The other issue I have is that during the book, Kristen and her sister Brittany get into a supernatural standoff and begin attacking each other. Kristen says on more than one occasion that Brittany is going to kill her, but the statements are hollow. If I were in Kristen’s shoes and my sister wanted to kill me and could do it easily with magic, I’d be freaked out. Especially as a teenager. Although Kristen seeks help from her witch grandmother for a protection spell, the spell goes unused. The lack of urgency, teen angsty drama, or genuine fear left me wondering why I was worried about her life…if she wasn’t.
When I expected a simple “I’m not as bad as you think I am” romance between the two main characters, Blake added suspense to the budding romance, giving Zach plenty of opportunities to appear the knight for her. There were times when I didn’t really know who was causing trouble in Kristen’s life or what Zach’s many secrets were. The magic/fight scenes were fast paced and engaging, and one of my favorite parts was Kristen’s first real date. When she had Zach pick her up at the library so her father wouldn’t know, it took me back to my early dating days when the “bad boy” and I would meet somewhere besides my home so we could go out.
I haven’t picked up a YA book since I hopped on the bandwagon and read Twilight several years ago. While I definitely would have devoured this light supernatural romance as a teenager, I also enjoyed reading it as an adult. I’d be comfortable recommending it to my 14 year old niece, as well as any adult that enjoys a little suspense mixed in with a trip down memory lane to what it felt like to really like that first boy in high school, to anticipate that first kiss that played so perfectly in your mind. The world that Blake created was unique, from the witch council that everyone feared to the way the girls wove their spells. I found Crushed to be an enjoyable read overall and look forward to reading more from this author.
Charming and fun, but strictly for a specific audience, i.e., light romance (no sex as the characters are underage), paranormal aspects, suspense and for those that enjoy sarcastic teen witches and brooding boys finding love in the locker covered hallways in high school. This book is available on both Smashwords and Amazon.
You can read an excerpt here.