Officer Wesley Rockville is the black sheep in his family of overachieving law enforcement personnel, held back by his dyslexia and impulsivity. After making one mistake too many, Wes is transferred to the highly-classified Witches Protection Program. His new partner, the fantastically named Alistair Verne, gives Wes the rundown: there are two kinds of witches, Davinas and Willa. The former are devoted to the healing arts, while the latter are rogues using their powers for evil. Wes’ new job will be to protect the Davinas (and everyone else) from Willa chicanery.
Meanwhile, Morgan Pendragon is about to turn 21, at which point she will have voting rights at her aunt Bernadette’s cosmetics company. But Bernadette—who raised Morgan after the death of her mother—is a Willa disguised as a Davina, and she’s determined to ensure that Morgan never gains any semblance of control, especially as she puts into action her plan to release a new face cream with mind control properties. These characters collide when it becomes clear that Morgan needs to be protected from Bernadette and her menacing lackeys.
WITCHES PROTECTION PROGRAM features brisk pacing and exciting action scenes brimming with shape-shifting magic that unfolds in delightful chaos on the streets of New York City. Its success largely stems from Michael Okon’s excellent plotting skills; the book is a quick read and every scene serves a purpose. His world-building is clever and riddled with wonderfully weird details (such as nefarious sentient gummy candies). Bernadette Pendragon is a well-drawn villain with quasi-feminist motivations that give the story an interesting layer of complexity. Some elements of the novel’s ending are a bit ludicrous (even for a novel about witches), but Okon does effectively wrap up the story while leaving plenty of loose ends for a potential sequel or series.
Okon’s character development is hit or miss; Wes and Bernadette are relatively well-established with full backstories, but some others, like Morgan, could have been further cultivated. Perhaps future books set in this world will rectify that flaw. His snappy dialogue is pitch perfect—when an incredulous Wes asks his new partner sarcastically if they’re also in the business of protecting trolls and pixies, Alistair responds, “Oh, they never give us any trouble.” The witches’ rhyming incantations, however, are not as strong.
WITCHES PROTECTION PROGRAM is a zany supernatural romp that doesn’t take itself too seriously; it’s a fun premise and the execution is nearly perfect.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader