The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Just got this as a Read Now on Netgalley... I hope it's good!
Ohhh, I liked this.
Now, just as an aside, I do wish that publishers would stop with the book comparisons! This book is nothing like GoT, and the comparison is honestly kind of weird. I understand why the comparisons are made, but I still wish that it wasn't so common.
I quite liked how this book went against my expectations. There are moments in this book where you expect the usual tropes to appear and annoy you, but the author seems to have mostly resisted them, which I quite liked.
Elizabeth is strong, stubborn, quick-thinking, with a strong sense of right and wrong. This book is very much about all of that getting up-ended and the fallout of that, with some adventure, magic, pirates, witches and spells along the way.
In case I haven't made it clear, this was a lot of fun to read.
I really enjoyed the world-building in this. The book is set in our past, but an alternate one - a universe where there actually is magic in the 1500's, and we meet a society dealing with trying to stamp that very magic out. It's recognizable as 'our world with a twist', but it's also very unique - I really enjoyed the little touches that the author has brought in as she's built this world, and carved out places for each character and how they fit into that world.
The plot flags for a bit in the middle, but overall it was an enjoyable ride. It's as much about self-discovery and choices for Elizabeth as it is about anything else, but that doesn't mean that we're stuck in her head as she daydreams about it - there's a lot of action, and we meet an interesting cast of characters along the way without getting bogged down, either.
The book does stumble a bit when it comes to coherency, however. We're told that Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters alive, yet we see very little of this. We learn her background in bits and pieces throughout the book, and while I'm guessing that that was in an effort to avoid an 'infodump', unfortunately the execution is lacking a bit. There are also a few things that I'm still not entirely clear on - whether that's due to poor reading on my part or whether it legitimately wasn't explained, I'm not sure.
Overall, though, I really enjoyed this. The romance is sweet, not overly in-your-face the way so many YA books are lately, and I like that the characters seem real, and there are consequences for Elizabeth's past actions and decisions. I'm pretty sure I'll be checking out the sequel when it comes out!
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