Tag Archives: witches

The Witch Hunter

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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.

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Anna Dressed in Blood

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I love murder mysteries, but have never been the biggest fan of the horror genre. It’s a bit much for my already over-active imagination.  Anna Dressed in Blood might change that. After reading book one of the series, I am looking forward to the second.

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual calling in life. He kills the dead. Well, he releases them. And only those that are dangerous, that threaten the living. He and his witch mother, her weird witch’s companion cat, and his athame (the mysterious knife he inherited from his father along with the job), follow hints and legends and hear-say, moving from city to city, ending the murderous rampages of the already dead.

His latest adventure takes him to Thunder Bay, Ontario (woooo!), where he is looking for a ghost that the locals refer to as Anna Dressed in Blood. This bloodthirsty spectre has haunted her former home for more than 50 years, since she herself was gruesomely dispatched the night of a school dance. Anyone who stumbles into the now-derelict shack is swiftly decapitated and torn limb from limb. Lovely. You are warned.

What Cas discovers when he confronts the ghost is one with more rage than he has ever dealt with in the past. She is uncontrollable, powerful and invincible, tossing him around like a tennis ball. But she doesn’t kill him. He, in turn, cannot release her to find the peace she craves. Her long ago murder holds the key.

Characters, setting, pacing, plot.  Loved it all. The characters are all relatable, well-written and believable (yes,even the ghost killing teen and the ghost herself. Anna is awesome.). The language is realistic – the occasional f-bomb from a 17 year old is expected, but so often avoided in YA lit.

Loved that the book is set in small town Ontario. The descriptions built a familiar landscape, are recognizable and authentic.  And when Cas said “…and Carmel and Thomas looked pale, even for Canadian kids,” I cracked up.

The book is fast paced and moves from one scene to another seamlessly.

I liked how author Blake did not end the book predictably. There was the easy, romantic pairing that I think would have taken away from the story as a whole, but she went in another direction. Good.

There are a few issues with the book, but none of them are game changers for me. Blake does not explain the history of the athame or of Cas’s family; what makes them so special that they are the only ones that can kill ghosts? What is the relationship between the athame and his father’s killer? It doesn’t make total sense to me.

Maybe these questions are answered in book two, which means I am going to have to go for it. Because I so need to know. And I thought I didn’t like horror.

By the way.  AWESOME cover.

There is a LOT of violence and gore in this novel, well-written, but there, nonetheless.  Be prepared. Otherwise, appropriate for any teen (and adult!) who can handle it.

Anna Dressed in Blood is published by Tom Doherty.

Hex Hall (series)

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I picked Hex Hall up but expected to put it back down fairly quickly, bored.  Yes, I did judge the first book by its cover.  To me, it looked like standard chick lit YA romance. You know what?  I was right, but SO wrong.

This is a fun series!  It is teen chick lit, but in a great way.  Teenage witches and demons and spells and all the mistakes that you just know are going to go along with it.  Big mistakes.  Picture delinquent supernaturals, all grouped together in one place.  What could go wrong?

16 year old Sophie is in high school, and a witch.  With no training, a mortal mom, Grace, and warlock father whom she never sees, she is a little out of control.  Due to Grace’s lack of magical ability, she can do little more than ask Sophie to behave herself.  That doesn’t work so well.  Although the teen has the best of intentions, a prom night spell goes seriously wrong. Sophie’s erstwhile dad steps in and sentences her to Hecate Hall, which is basically reform school for the supernatural set.

Beautiful dark magic witches, a vampire best friend with hot pink bangs, and a sexy warlock potential boyfriend set the stage for the mysteries that follow.  Throw in a demon summoning, a murder, a magical Project Runway for the prom, and you have all the ingredients needed for a fun story.  And seriously, when Sophie encounters a werewolf and her first instinct is to yell “BAD DOG!”, it is FUNNY.

The story has all the right ingredients to make for an entertaining series. And Rachel Hawkins has a fantastic writing style; loose, relaxed, great characters that are not so so predictable.  Jenna is the perfect BFF, the dark witches are, of course, gorgeous, and make great mean girls when Sophie doesn’t join them,  and the three books flow nicely from one to the other, for a really good time.

I loved the romantic twists, the story of Sophie’s parents adds some good intrigue, and the story wraps up really nicely in the third book, maybe a little too nicely, too easily, but it was still satisfying.

Young teens will devour this book; it might seem to be a bit young for the older ones at first glance, but they will still enjoy it for an easy escape! And just so you know,  I am NOT Team Archer.  No way.  Team Cal, all the way.

The Hex Hall series is published by Hyperion Books.