Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

From the Back Cover:

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

Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. When she's accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to die at the stake. Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can track down the person who laid a deadly curse on him.

As she's thrust into the world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and all-too-handsome healers, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate. 

My Thoughts:

I had really high hopes for this historical fantasy debut, but it didn't quite live up to my expectations. Almost a month passed between when I read this and when I wrote my review, and I could hardly remember a thing about it before I skimmed back through it, so I think that's pretty telling. A medieval world filled with witches and wizards, revenants and prophets, magic and alchemy should be extremely gripping and atmospheric . . . but it's not so much.

I had some issues with the presentation of Elizabeth's character. There's a twist early on when we find out what Elizabeth has been doing with her nights, and I really felt like it merited more explanation and emotional exploration. That kind of secret has got to take a toll on a young woman, but we don't know if it does on Elizabeth because she never talks about it. And later in the story, Elizabeth is confronted with some startling truths about the world she thought she knew, but really, I couldn't help but think that a smart girl like her should have figured it all out much sooner. I did.

Combine that lack of depth with some uneven pacing and a superficial romance, and eventually I realized I was reading just to get to the end and see how it would all play out. There was a lot of potential here for in-depth characterization and gritty storytelling, but it wasn't fully realized and ending up feeling rather simplistic. The Witch Hunter is by no means a bad book--it certainly has its share of action and excitement--but I found it to be ultimately forgettable in a genre where the bar has been set high by some fantastic stories.

My Rating:  3 Stars out of 5

*Please Note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. These are my honest and unbiased opinions, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.

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