The past few books I’ve read e.g. Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices, The Mortal Instruments, and L.J. Smith’s Dark Visions, always seem to have heroines that are incognizant of their hidden talents before they are then plunge into some conflict in which they then find out about their real selves and had to learn to use their ‘abilities’ without the benefit of prior training or at least some kind of manual. The Secret Circle is no different.
The Secret Circle Part I & II by L.J. Smith
In The Secret Circle (published around 1992), L.J. Smith writes about a teenager by the name of Cassandra Blake, Cassie for short, who also lives a ‘normal life’ in a normal world. As usual, most characters of this kind defines normal as living like a less than regular teenager… few friends, playing ‘tag along’ with a dominant friend whose every wish is a command. Her dominant friend here is Portia, who appears in the early part of The Secret Circle Part I and in the later part of Part II.
Cassie is a witch. She didn’t know it at first. She only learns about it later when she and her mother had to move, by some unforgiving reason, grudgingly to New Salem. There she finds a group of high schoolers who are called by the name of ‘The Club’. The Club enjoys all the top privileges in the campus – a private room in the cafeteria, immunity from school rules, etc. Her first day at school was the worst day a new student can have, courtesy of some members of The Club. Of course, a few days later, by virtue of her residence’s address, she somehow became a ‘member’ of The Club and enjoyed all the privileges that comes with it.
Gradually, she realizes that she is part of the club because she is a witch. All the members of the club, both male and female, are witches and borne of witch parents with witch parents before them, and witch ancestry.
I find that the later half of Part I is dragging especially since I know it’s going to be incomplete because there’s a part II. Part II however makes up for whatever shortcomings it has in Part I. It builds up until it climaxes at the end and you find all threads closed and justified.
I thought the ‘villain turns out to be the heroine’s father’ routine is old. But it obviously still works, at least for me, in this story.
I however find the part where Diana ‘turns over’ Adam to his soul-mate a little shallow and not so elaborated. The ease of the transition is not so realistic as LJ Smith did not dwell even for a few moments on the agony Diana must be silently enduring. You just don’t let go of someone you love like that and smile a true smile. I mean, it was probably implied and left to the reader to imagine, the way it made me. Well, writing a long story isn’t easy. Perhaps LJ Smith was tired and wanted to wrap things up quickly at this end point of the story, and provide closure as well specifically to this angle of the love triangle (another over-used cliche).