"The Book of Lost Souls" is the first in a series of novels featuring plucky teenaged witch, Ivy MacTavish. She and her best friends, Shayde and Raven (a werewolf and a vampire) live in a pleasant enough New England town called Northwick, where the Regulars (meaning non-magical humans) and Kindreds (vampires, werewolves, witches, and demons) live in a peaceable detente.
The night of the big Northwick High Halloween Party, Ivy has found the perfect date: a beefcake model in a magazine ad. All she has to do is make him human, and she has found the perfect spell to do so. She'll simply concentrate on the magazine ad and turn Spike, a horned-toad lizard belonging to Raven's younger brother (another vampire), into a studly human. Ivy is doing this to make Dean, upon whom she has a crush, sufficiently jealous that he would leave his girlfriend, Tara.
Oh, and Nick, an already studly Sicilian demon, already likes Ivy, who finds him to be arrogant and vaguely creepy.
Thus begins "The Book of Lost Souls." As punishment for wrecking the Halloween party, the three besties are assigned to clean up an old part of a town cemetery. On their way out, Ivy finds two old books: a magical gardening book, and a dark magic book. The package obviously once held three books. The third, alas, is "The Book of Lost Souls," with which the user can bring back horrible people from the past.
The person who has that book proceeds to do so, and it's up to Ivy and friends to find the book, and get the evil duo banished back to hell before they can cause more damage.
I liked "The Book of Lost Souls" just fine. However, it seemed aimed way more at teens and tweens than at adults. This is not a bad thing. There wasn't anything objectionable in the book, and even the scariest parts wouldn't be too scary for younger readers--less intense than the early Harry Potter books.
Being neither a teen nor a tween, I didn't get as much out of "The Book of Lost Souls." I thought the whole werewolf/witch/vampire best-friends circle (er, triangle?) was a little too cute. The werewolves, for example, just changed into werewolves, who were fast and strong and had awesome smell, but who didn't undergo a painful transformation, and who could still communicate with their friends. The vampires were able to go out in the daylight, and were perfectly content drinking corpse blood. Even Ivy, the heroine witch, just "came into her powers" at age 12, sort of like getting her first period. Most of her magic involves rolling up her car windows by just twiddling her fingers, or magicking cereal, bowls, and milk from the kitchen to the table. It's more "Bewitched" tv show magic.
I enjoyed the Harry Potter novels, because they showed that having inborn power wasn't enough. To be a successful witch or wizard, you had to learn, to study, to practice.
Incidentally, my favorite magic-based novels were "The Dresden Files" series. There, magic was taken beyond having a wand or a broom. It involved focusing natural forces, and a whole lot of ritual.
As I said, this is an awesome book for younger teens and tweens, who would be overloaded (or bored by) "The Dresden Files," and other adult-targeted magic-based novels.
I enjoyed "The Book of Lost Souls" well enough, even though I am not at all its target audience. I read author Michelle Muto's "Don't Fear the Reaper," and I loved it. "Reaper" transcended the YA demographic, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone, even my fellow grownups.
With "The Book of Lost Souls" as a cornerstone, Ms Muto's "Ivy MacTavish" series should be a hit with its target audience. For me, being distressingly beyond my tween years, I lament that this book wasn't like "Reaper," which had tremendous cross-demographic appeal. As a book-lover, though, I'll just regret that nobody was writing fiction this good when I was 12, and being just a little jealous of 12 year-olds today, who can read these books and relate to them far better than I can, as a reluctant grown-up.