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666 Park Avenue: A Novel

1 rating: -1.0
A book by Gabriella Pierce

Jane Boyle can�t believe it when fabulously wealthy American Malcolm Doran comes into her life and sweeps her off her feet. An orphan raised in the rural Alsace region of France by a superstitious, overprotective grandmother, she moved to Paris … see full wiki

Tags: Books
Author: Gabriella Pierce
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
1 review about 666 Park Avenue: A Novel

Bewildered, but Definitely Not Bewitched

  • Feb 3, 2011
Darn! Reading the blurb on the back of Gabriella Pierce's novel, "666 Park Avenue," is much more fun than reading the actual contents. The premise sparks with the scintillating electricity of what could have been a modern day reversed "Bewitched (Special Edition)"--a cross between a delightful adult fairytale with lot of nose-twitching and Project Runway. Too bad Pierce doesn't make it work.

Jane, an attractive well-dressed, twenty-something blonde, meets Malcolm, a hunky, label-savvy and moneyed art collector in Paris. It's a whirlwind carousal of love leading to nothing but marriage and the baby carriage with just one little problem--Lynne, mother-in-law-to-be and matriarch of one of New York's fabulously wealthy families, happens to be a witch--and not one of the fairy godmother genre. We're talking black magic, purple smoke, eye of newt and the smell of sulfur--dangerous enough as that may sound, but even more so as this witch has an agenda whose success relies on the cooperation of the naïve Jane. If only Pierce could deliver the fun and sophistication the story blurb promises! Instead the lack of detail, the absence of place and the weakness of perspectives (Jane's, Malcolm's, Lynne's) plunge the story into the mundane dungeon of mediocre storytelling when it could have raised a magical beanstalk world of comedic fun and fractured fables that authors like Gregory Maguire (Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years)) do so well.

As "666 Park Avenue" is being marketed as a series that would appeal to the fans of Gossip Girl and the Vampire Diaries, perhaps it is meant to be a young adult dabble with its eye on the longevity and film adaptability of Stephanie Meyer's The Twilight Saga Complete Collection. If so, Pierce needs to concentrate more on figuring out in what genre her story is intended to lie. Is it comedy with a sense of danger? Chicklit starring fashionistas? A romantic tale of love and marriage with a penchant for bodice-ripping details? A little witch's coming-of-age? If it is any of these or a combination of all, Pierce must develop her premise from that perspective, condense some of the action (there is lots of it) and add more revelations from the characters' different points of view.

Because the book is unsure of its genre, it goes astray in a variety of ways. When the innocent Jane discovers that she has stumbled upon a multitude of witches intent on harnessing her energy to increase their powers, the backstab of treachery should rip through her thoughts disabling her from functioning. Doesn't happen--Jane merely blinks and continues with her wedding plans. Talk about a Stepford Wife! Constantly pitted against the dark motives of characters like Lynne, Charles, Yuri and even Malcolm, Jane moves through crucial life and death moments with seemingly no lingering effects on her psyche. Revelations that should be monumental receive little playtime rendering Jane's ultimate realization about herself and her strategies ho-hum.

Is "666" serious or funny? If Pierce wants her primary focus to be the elitism of her characters she should go for it in unabashed Jackie Collins style but, alas, that wouldn't work with a YA market. Deriving a cutesy version of "Samantha Stevens Does New York" with a little bit of the "Magic (Sex) and the City" vibe could work using television's beloved sitcom Bewitched as it's role model. Characters empathizing the likes of Endora, Aunt Clara, Uncle Arthur, Esmeralda and even Tabitha who test and tweak their magic comically in one uproariously funny episode after another while wearing chic fashions with matching cell phones would update the whole "I hate my mother-in-law" theme in a way similar the film "Clueless" modernizing Austin's "Emma."

Pierce's characterization of Jane as an American brought up in France by an Alsatian grandmother couldn't ring more falsely--Mirielle Guiliano of "French Women Don't Get Fat" fame would cringe at Jane's New York bagel fetish especially after living in Paris for six years. If the series is geared towards a younger audience, scenes of intimacy between Jane and her husband-to-be could be depicted less frankly. In view of Jane's sheep-to-the-slaughter position inside enemy lines, her over-the-top sensual preoccupation seems ludicrous--dodging bullets and sexy lingerie can go together but not with any degree of realism. Ms. Pierce, please decide whether "666" is a charmingly funny romp or an uphill struggle for existence.

Bottom line? What could have been a wonderfully fun debut to a series about the relationship between a witch-y mother-in-law in New York society and her novice-witch son's wife transforms into a story runs amok with too much going on and not enough in-depth moments. Meant to be breezy, sophisticated, romantic and magical, "666 Park Avenue" comes on as too action-packed, too strong in the sensual department and lacking in insight from the POV of its main characters. Categorizing it as young adult or adult fairytale presents a challenge, while the lackluster storytelling does not help to keep the reader's attention.
Diana Faillace Von Behren

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