Rated Reads

The Catalain Book of Secrets

by Jessica Lourey

Rated: High

Seven women are part of several generations of the Catalain family, and all have various magical gifts. The matriarch, Velda, can charm anyone and everyone. Her oldest daughter, Ursula, is gifted with herbs and creating concoctions for just about any need. This gets them both into trouble when Velda asks Ursula as a child to craft a poison that she uses on her husband, Ursula’s father. The man dies, but the bad “spirit” in him curses the women of the family, telling them he will return “with the snakes,” a strange event that happens in their small Minnesota town every 25 years or so, to take their power.

Fifty years later, Ursula is distanced from her mother and her two daughters. Her daughters, Katrine and Jasmine, once close, have been apart for years, with Katrine having fled the town when she became an adult. Ursula’s twin sisters are close, but almost everyone has issues with Velda. Jasmine has a great gift but refuses to use it, and the youngest of the women in the family, her teen daughter Tara, has powers but has been kept from the reality of them.

When Katrine is betrayed by her husband in London, she returns to Faith Falls, broken and confused. And it’s just about the time for the snakes to return — along with the man who aims to hurt them all. Can the women get past their hurts, communicate with each other, be there for one another, and draw on the power they have individually and as a family?

The Catalain Book of Secrets is a novel rich in setting, peopled by strong women who have yet to grasp how strong they are. I found it irresistibly engaging. Those who love mystery and magic will enjoy this.

Rated: High, for two uses of strong language, some intense scenes, mentions of a rape, one longish sexual scene and a few other brief but detailed sexual references. It almost borders on moderate, but I’m leaning toward high.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • The Catalain Book of Secrets
  • by Jessica Lourey
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: