TITLE: Witch Hunter
AUTHOR: Virginia Boecker
SERIES: The Witch Hunter (#1)
PUBLISHER: Orchard Books
GENRE: Fantasy, Young Adult, Historical Fiction
RATING: 3.5/5 Stars
Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Grey doesn't look dangerous. A tiny, blonde, wisp of a girl shouldn't know how to poison a wizard and make it look like an accident. Or take out ten necromancers with a single sword and a bag of salt. Or kill a man using only her thumb. But things are not always as they appear. Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters in Anglia and a member of the king's elite guard, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and bringing those who practice it to justice. And in Anglia, the price of justice is high: death by burning.
When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself, she's arrested and thrown in prison. The king declares her a traitor and her life is all but forfeit. With just hours before she's to die at the stake, Elizabeth gets a visitor - Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in Anglia. He offers her a deal: he will free her from prison and save her from execution if she will track down the wizard who laid a deadly curse on him.
As Elizabeth uncovers the horrifying facts about Nicholas's curse and the unwitting role she played in its creation, she is forced to redefine the differences between right and wrong, friends and enemies, love and hate... and life and death.
What I Liked:
- The plot was the most enjoyable aspect of the book, particularly the second half. It didn't totally grab me to begin with, but I was hooked as it went on and I thought that Boecker paced it perfectly. I never found myself completely bored of it, as something was always going on but not so much that I found it too fast paced either. It wasn't completely original I suppose, but it was certainly an easy, fun read with a story-line I would like to see continued.
- This one is slightly tricky but let me just talk about the characters, or in particular, our main character Elizabeth Grey. Why is it tricky? Because to begin with I didn't warm to her at all. But I'll tell you all why in the end I decided she was worth my time. She was one of the most kind-hearted, open-minded heroines I have read from in a while. I liked watching her develop as the book progressed and it was nice to read from the POV of a character willing to listen rather than blindly follow her beliefs without considering others. The romance was a good read too, particularly as I didn't feel that the love triangle got in the way as it has done in the past with other books.
What I Disliked:
- Let me just quickly mention why I didn't like Elizabeth Grey to begin with, because I feel like it's an important note for those that are not a fan of reckless characters. The blurb paints Miss Grey as a lethal, ass-kicking, notorious witch-hunter. In truth, she's a bit of a blunderer who couldn't even strike fear into the cowardly lion, let alone the Mages she is supposed to be hunting. She makes a lot of mistakes. This happens all through the book. In the end, I found her warm heart and selfless deeds outweighed this flaw but I know a fair few people who would be less forgiving.
- I guess, despite growing to like this book, I still didn't feel entirely convinced by it or by Boecker's writing. The world-building was recognisably an alternate version of Medieval Britain and yet it could have done with a bit more (though I loved the reference to Stepney Green, where I currently live!). The conversations fell a bit flat at times, a couple of sub-plots weren't necessary and I think the characterisation generally could do with some work.
This was a tricky review to write because despite some obvious problems, I did actually end up liking this book and wanting to continue the series. Plot-wise (though nothing new) it was entertaining and action-filled, with a couple of interesting twists and turns along the way. The main character was just the kind that would usually disappoint me too, but I ended up kind of liking her other attributes. I just really hope that there's a little more conviction and personality in the next instalment so that I grow to love it! This series has so much potential!