A few years ago, the novels of L.J. Smith made a bit of a comeback thanks her series The Vampire Diaries being made into a popular television series. I can recall these books being around when I was a kid, sharing the same shelves and dark, trashy covers as books by horror YA novelists like R.L. Stine, Diane Hoh and Christopher Pike. A huge part of the appeal was always the cheap, trashy, and melodramatic feel that can probably be summed up by this cover:
Equally popular as the Vampire Diaries back in the early 1990s was the pictured L.J. Smith series The Secret Circle I was a little surprised to discover that this one has also been made into a television series recently and this intrigued me. I remembered very little about the dramatic adventures of a young woman who discovers that her destiny is to be a part of a coven of witches and decided to reread the first book just for fun. Book one, The Initiation follows the dramatic adventures a girl named Cassie who discovers her destiny is to be a part of a coven of witches. Some of the witches are nice, some are not so nice and Cassie should definitely not be falling for Adam the boyfriend of Diana, the witch who is kindest to her ...
As is often the case when I return to reading some of my favourite pulpy childhood reads, The Initiation was a bit of a let down. Although it was intelligently written and had a number of interesting turns, I found it difficult to suspend my disbelief on a number of occasions. Of course, at the time, the melodrama was a bit part of the appeal, as was the fact that every adult in the novel seemed not only distant, but completely incompetent (always a big plus when I was a kid).
There are a number of questions that remained unanswered at the end of the book, however these were probably addressed in the sequels, The Captive and The Power. I was also amused to discover when I researched this post that in 2012, twenty years after the release of The Power and to coincide with the new television series a number of books penned written by ghostwriters were added to the series. (Apparently, L.J. Smith was fired from her publisher after a dispute regarding a plot twist. Read more here.)