The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith feels like you are reading a fairytale or folktale. Elena Boureanu is a vine witch, for centuries she and her sister witches divine and cast spells for Château Renard to create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. That is until Elena is cursed to live as a frog in the marshes, leaving her beloved vines without the care they need.
After breaking the curse that banished her to a swamp for seven years, Elena finds that her vineyard is under the ownership of Jean-Paul Martel, a man who does not put much faith in the old ways despite his scientific approach not working to save the dying vines. If she wants to save her beloved vineyard she will need to hide who she truly is while trying to find out who has unleashed an evil hex on vineyard.
Excerpt from The Vine Witch by Luanne G. Smith
Still squatting in the mud, she wiggled her fingers, testing, then dared to hold them in the sacred pose as if cradling the face of Knowledge itself. Warmth engulfed her. Consciousness reignited. The bonds of the curse disintegrated.
The name flashed in her mind so quickly she thought it a phantom whisper. Then memory flooded in. She was Elena, disciple of the All Knowing and daughter of the Chanceaux Valley. And she was free.
As her body woke from torpor, muddy hands trailed over breasts, ribs, and stomach, assuring all was normal—until warm flesh turned pond-water cold beneath her touch. She dared look down, and a strangled scream caught in her throat. Giant speckled legs with webbed feet clung on in horrid stubbornness. She kicked and thrashed, and yet they remained grotesquely fused to her body.
“What demon spell is this?” she cried. But when panic failed her, she took a steadying breath and let her mind meditate on the problem as she always had. The powerful alkaloids secreted through the skin had eroded the curse over time. Perhaps all she needed was one last jolt to complete the change. Mastering her revulsion, she picked up the spit-up toad skin and stuffed it onto the back of her tongue. The toxic residue tasted of rotted reed grass and bitter herbs, but as the sun haloed in her vision and the poison danced in her blood, she gave thanks to the All Knowing for teaching her well the ways of magic. After one last agonizing moment, her transformation was complete. Long legs, weak but willing, held her when she stood, so she tipped her face toward the daylight stars to calculate the distance home. Naked, but no longer at the mercy of the sun for warmth, she walked out of the marshland with the hot pulse of revenge beating beneath her breastbone.