Book Review: The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith


The Secret Circle - Poster
The Secret Circle – Poster (Photo credit: satin_shirt)


Book Review: The Secret Circle by L.J. Smith


Volume 1: The Initiation


Traci Kenworth




311 pages     Harper Paperbacks       1992






Cassie is a junior in high school and homesick for California. They are in her mother’s native home state and she is being irritated by Portia Bainbridge, an accomplished bragger from a family of braggers. Her mother looks really ill and guilty when Cassie talks about going home to her friends and the life she left behind. She feels like she doesn’t belong. A red-haired, tall guy on beach with dog approaches. Portia is disgusted by the fact that he works on boats and tells Cassie not to make eye contact. Other girls on beach reject him. As he nears Cassie, she can see his smile turning into a grin. She thinks how unfair their treatment of him is. The dog befriends her and then the boy, despite Portia’s presence. He tells her life isn’t always fair and then walks off. “Witch,” Portia whispers after he leaves and hurries off to do something.


After Cassie goes off on a walk by herself, the guy appears being chased by Portia’s big brothers and their friends. She tells him to hide himself and the dog in one of the boats docked there. She misleads the brothers and their friends as to where he went. In return, he gives her a  chalcedony stone which is supposed to bring luck. If she’s ever in trouble, he tells her to hold it and think of him. He says the brothers wouldn’t bother him if he was on his own turf but here he’s fair game.


A moment almost happens and then suddenly it’s as if he remembered something and draws back. He kisses her hand where Jordan twisted her wrist and tells her Jordan will pay for that one day. He leaves the Cape. Cassie realizes she never asked him his name.


Her mother and grandmother are estranged. They are going to see the grandmother up the coast next week as she’s gotten worse. It’ll be the first time Cassie has seen her. Her mother looks pained when she mentions going home. She says the grandmother wanted her to follow a path she didn’t want to. Finally, she admits they’re not going home—they’re going to live with the grandmother in New Salem, Massachusetts.


She knew she’d see the guy again, part of her whispers. Voice crushed by despair of being all alone. New Salem is on an island not on the map. They drive to the oldest house at the top of the bluff, in the shape of a T. Not painted, it’s in total disarray. Cassie proclaims she hates the house and bursts into tears. She sees fear and loathing for the house on her mother’s face before her grandmother comes along. The two women embrace but tension remains.


Cassie dreams mother and grandmother glide into the room. Cassie’s mom said she shouldn’t have tried to escape destiny. Her grandmother says what they’re doing is the only way. They whisper about sacrifice…


She is drawn to the most beautiful house in the neighborhood and the girl in it. Slowly, she meets her acquaintance after run-ins with the town “bullies.” She finds out that the girl and the mean crowd are part of something called, “The Club.” Tempted to join, she is put off by Diana saying that you can’t ever leave the island. They’re also supposed to do each other no harm. Though some of them don’t seem to follow those rules. Diana has a boyfriend who is away at the moment. Cassie wants to be like Diana. She feels like they’re sisters. And when she discovers they like the same guy, she determines Diana will never know.


I admit to watching the TV series before reading the original book. The storylines are quite different as I’m told is the same way with The Vampire Diaries books, also by L.J. Smith. Anyway, I kind of liked the television shows better. I know there’s more than one novel in this series and I’m sure they’re each used to fill in the pieces, but I didn’t feel much of a depth in the book when it came to the events happening. I guess I expected a better wrap-up of what the characters went through and I didn’t get that with this part of the story. Plus, I just felt let-down by everything that occurred. The mystery of who killed one of the girls isn’t solved. I like the antagonists to get their due and maybe that happens as the books continue, but I probably won’t read any further. I just didn’t get as captivated by the characters in the novels as I did with the ones on the show. I don’t necessarily have to have a “happily-ever-after” in something I read, but I sure like to see good triumph.


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