Elizabeth Grey is an orphan, and a witch hunter, one of the best in the country of Anglia, in the service of young King Malcolm. But lately she has been making mistakes, a lot of them, serious ones, and is lucky her best friend is also her partner, and can cover for her. But even Caleb doesn’t know why her concentration has broken, and she doesn’t know how to tell him.
Then one night, full of drink and unable to focus, she is caught with witch’s herbs in her pocket, and she is arrested and sentenced to burn.
Her salvation comes not from her oldest friend, her only family, but from someone whom she considers a mortal enemy. Nicholas Perevil is the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, but he will save her, in return for a favour only she can grant. As long as he doesn’t find out who she really is.
Phew. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I was really excited to read it – it has so much I love in a fantasy novel. Witches? Check. Witch hunters? Check. Alternate medieval universe? Check. But the execution of the story is where author Virginia Boecker loses me. I’ve sat on it for awhile, turning it over in my mind, and I still can’t say it’s good, but I also can’t say it isn’t. Don’t love it, but don’t hate it either…
I think the problem is that the premise is fantastic, but the story doesn’t quite get there. Boecker has a great plot, in theory, but a lot of it doesn’t add up. She isn’t sure of the story enough, and where to take it, to make it happen. Too much is forced.
The great thing about fantasy is that ANYTHING can happen. But it still needs to make sense to the reader. i.e.: Elizabeth is a witch hunter is a world where witches are feared and hated, but instead of being revered because she is a witch hunter, she is also feared and hated, and must hide herself for fear of her life. Could someone explain??????
The characters, on the other hand, were decent. The secondary characters were fairly developed. The Inquisitor, Lord Blackwell, her oldest confidant, Caleb, her new protector, Nicholas Perevil, as well as all the new acquaintances she makes after her rescue, all seem to have distinct personalities that work for the story. Elizabeth is actually the weakest of all, with constant changes in personality and making decisions that just don’t fit with what you already think of her. But maybe she can get her sh*t together in book two.
So, if you are a fan of fantasy, give The Witch Hunter a try. I do have some reservations, but think the series deserves a chance in the second book.
It is appropriate for all teens; there is some violence and gore (witch burnings and sword fights), but the description is fairly benign.
The Witch Hunter is published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.