Monday, June 1, 2015

Title: The Witch Hunter
Author: Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter, book #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Source: ARC received from publisher
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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The magic and suspense of Graceling meet the political intrigue and unrest of Game of Thrones in this riveting fantasy debut.

Your greatest enemy isn't what you fight, but what you fear.

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake.

Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that's been laid upon him.

But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth's witch hunting past--if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she's thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

I found The Witch Hunter to be a jaunty little read. It was very fantasy-light -- heavy on the vague explanations or lacking them altogether -- but I still found it quite enjoyable, all things considered. And though a few times it seemed like the story might venture into some trope-y territory that would have diminished my enjoyment, it redeemed itself by veering in the opposite direction.

So, in The Witch Hunter, there was this unexplained magical plague -- blamed on the infamous wizard Nicholas Perevil -- that decimated the population and left most everyone terrified of magic, or at least questioning the ramifications of using it. The king goes and outlaws magic and those still found practicing after the fact are burned at the stake. There are even those in the king's ranks whose only role is to seek out witches and bring them to justice. Elizabeth Grey is one of the foremost witch hunters when allegations of witchcraft are brought against her for having contraceptive herbs on her person.

There are good reasons -- VERY good reasons -- why she needed to have these herbs, but the law is the law. Elizabeth has all but accepted her fate, despite Caleb's -- her witch hunter best friend and cohort -- assurances that he'll come for her, when who should show up to rescue her but the very last person she ever expected to lay eyes on. Prior to this, I had thought there was a slim chance that Caleb would come for her, but his pretty words at the door of her cell came too little, too late. He was too closed-minded to see what was in front of him and he'll never be persuaded that all magic isn't evil. I mean, it can't be anything but when the kingdom's most wanted wizard is named PerEVIL, right?

Elizabeth has obvious trust issues and it takes a lot to convince her that the witches and wizards who came to her aid mean her no harm. They do want something in return, though...something only Elizabeth can retrieve for them. Of course, they do. And in the process, she meets ghosts and revenants and pixies and pirates, oh my. All while attempting to hide the fact that up until Nicholas facilitated her jailbreak, she was hunting their kind.

At this point, we're basically following Elizabeth and company on a quest, while the rest of the kingdom is hunting her now. She doesn't have any special power herself, but she knows things, and knowledge is a power unto itself. Along the way, Elizabeth's narrow-mindedness fades as she begins to realize that magic isn't inherently good or bad, it's all dependent on who's wielding it. Basically, her whole world has been turned upside down, but she's taking it in stride.

I'm sure it helps to have an attractive healer and his friends along for the trip. I much preferred the sweet and caring John as a love interest over the caustic, unfeeling Caleb. Maybe I'm the only one who sees Caleb that way, but actions speak louder than words, and I hate when a guy only finally notices the main character once others have shown an interest in her. Whereas I could never tell if Caleb was actually showing anything but brotherly affection for Elizabeth, John's intentions toward her were abundantly clear.

I also appreciated that though one of John's closest friends is female, she wasn't of the I'm-pining-away-for-my-best-friend-but-he-doesn't-know-it variety, nor was she the overprotective best friend who warned the main character away. It did seem like either or both of those scenarios might come into play until her own relationship was revealed. And Fifer actually turned out to be a pretty good friend to Elizabeth, once the air was cleared between them and Fifer realized that Elizabeth was in fact not going to murder them all in their sleep or turn them in as witches.

If The Witch Hunter was kind of fun and fanciful, the ending of the story was anything but. The big reveal is a bit questionable and too easy and doesn't really explain anything, but this is only the first book so I'm hoping a more quality explanation is forthcoming in the sequel. Despite a few minor qualms with this book, I'm definitely looking forward to more of this series.

GIF it to me straight:
♫ Someone's gonna burn... 

About the author:

Virginia Boecker recently spent four years in London obsessing over English medieval history, which formed the basis of her debut novel, The Witch Hunter. She now lives in the Bay Area, California with her husband and spends her days writing, reading, running, and chasing around her two children and a dog named George.

In addition to English kings, nine-day queens, and Protestant princesses, her other obsessions include The Smiths, art museums, champagne, and Chapstick.

Find Virginia:

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1 comment:

  1. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one! I have it on my Kindle and am looking forward to reading it.


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