Summary: On our sixteenth birthdays, our kind is gifted with awesome powers. Except no, not really, because this isn’t Narnia, or Hogwarts, or whatever other mythical realm where witches supposed live. This is Elizabethtown, Illinois, and much to the chagrin of the local chapter of Susie-Homemakers, we live here.
All witches understand that the universe is a scary sort of powerful on a good day. On a bad day? Well, that’s when The Tower card shows its face during a reading. As summer draws to a close before the beginning of junior year, Rowyn Black is tired of seeing that card stare up at her from the table. Rowyn, Reed, and Rosalyn have made it through just about every dramatic storm their sarcasm could weather during their seventeen year friendship, and it would be nice to have a quiet semester. Rowyn hopes that the only thing The Tower foretells is the frightening sight of the school parking lot come the first day- full of more jacked-up trucks and cut off shorts than a Luke Bryan video. True to its nature, however, the universe doesn’t care much for hopes and wishes, and when the promise of The Tower comes crashing down, they might fall right along with it.
Rowyn, Rose, and Reed are the very best of friends. I thought that their friendship was written very sweet and realistically. There are varying dynamics in the relationships, and I think that the nuances between how the characters interacted with each other based on who was in the scene together was well written. Furthermore, each character was very distinct and had their own voice. Rowyn was very sarcastic, fiery, and independent, in contrast to Rose’s girl next door and happy demeanor. Of the trio, Reed seems to be the weakest link (sorry, Reed). I liked him as a character, but he didn’t really find his own voice until the end. So much of him was pinning for Rowyn or angry at Rowyn.
The Tower is not what you would expect. As the summary says, this isn’t Narnia or any other magical realm, and there is no fantasy element despite the main characters being witches. They are simply pagan and practice real, practical rituals and ceremonies as real life pagans. Shortly after junior year starts, a tragedy strikes that alters the lives of our main characters irrevocably. This is really a coming of age contemporary of dealing with friendship, family, love, loss, and forgiveness.
If you are looking for a quiet contemporary YA story, I would recommend The Tower. Although the main characters are witches, there’s nothing fantastical or paranormal about this story. There’s also not a lot of action. There are emotional obstacles and drama that the characters have to navigate.