Not quite Holly Black, not quite Sarah J. Maas, not quite Robin LaFevers, and not quite Kristin Cashore but somehow all those ‘not quite’s add up into something pretty special. I was really excited to read The Witch Hunter because I think it was one of the book that came out at BEA last year, an my friend Lea really loves it. It sounded like something I’d enjoy and I did! Then I received the second book King Slayer from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.
P L O T and P A C I N G
Elizabeth is a witch hunter marked by a stigma on her abdomen. She works with Caleb to hunt those in possession of illegal materials until she’s no longer the hunter but the hunted. Suddenly Elizabeth has to run with a new crowd, who know more about her abilities than they let on, and she finds herself in some pretty tricky situations that make her question everything she’s been told. The second book picks up immediately after the events of the first but all of the emotions are more intense! There’s more death and more romance, also some new characters – basically it’s amped up 100%
As for the pacing I was pretty engrossed. The way the book ended made me think that this was more of a Part 1 and Part 2 kind of series rather than each book being complete wholes. I think that’s partly down to the way the drama escalated, with the majority of it happening in book 2. There were some pretty climactic moments at the end of the first book so I was relieved I was able to pick up book 2 immediately! The Witch Hunter starts right in the middle of the action, giving good scope for the characters are their job, but it left the middle to be a lot slower, as we were still meeting and getting to know some of the main players half way through.
C H A R A C T E R S
Elizabeth – grows over the series as she understands who she is. She’s pretty feisty, but her personality isn’t overwhelming.
John – Elizabeth’s main love interest. He’s a healer and against witch hunters…can you see the tension? John is a cinnamon roll, and like most cinnamon role boyfriends his personality changes when he tries to protect those he loves. (Major from iZombie style.) So, in King Slayer, he’s a different character for quite a lot of the story.
Fifer – helps with the gender imbalance. Now she’s feisty. She’s been practising witchcraft since she was young and is very close to Nicholas (the Merlin of the series) She’s got some tricks up her sleeve and she’s not to be underestimated!
George – the comic relief. That’s it.
Schuyler – a revenant, which is another kind of power in Virginia Boecker’s world. From what I can gather that means he’s immortal, but that comes with the cost of being tied to someone else. He’s conflicted, for sure, but a good guy at heart.
And that’s the team. They go up against the evil Lord Blackwell who also isn’t what he claims. In King Slayer more characters are introduced to help in the battle, and as well we get to properly meet Malcolm aka the King. (I had some issues with him because of his views on consent. Silence doesn’t mean yes, d-bag. Because of that I couldn’t bring myself to like him no matter what happened. At least he didn’t really threaten the true love relationship, though. This series really did not need a love triangle.)
R O M A N C E
The romance in these books is the “I’ll love you for the rest of my days; I’ll fight for you” kind. So…intense to say the least. It’s exactly the kind of guilty pleasure kind of love that can work really well in fantasy stories. Unfortunately, I thought Elizabeth got a little consumed with her relationship in the second book, thought I think that was mostly circumstantial. I don’t know, I just really want to read one fantasy where love interests are vetoed by the main girl, because who needs ’em?
W O R L D B U I L D I N G
Anglia is a fantasy worlds based on Tudor England with a bit of Salem in the 1600s chucked in for good measure. It’s kind of mirrors the dispute between Protestants and Catholics, but instead it’s witches versus…non-witches? I didn’t think the world building was particularly good. I have no idea what the terrain in like, not what Anglia’s history is or how witchcraft is affecting people outside of the country. But because I live in England, and actually studied Tudor history at A-level I could piece a few things together myself.
There’s quite a bit more world building in the second book, but this mostly comes in the way of name dropping different towns. However, we did learn more about how the monarchy worked finally! I did have a little laugh when it was explained Malcolm would have a privy council as well as a Council of the North and a Council of the Marshes, because Henry VII (my favourite king) does literally the exact same thing.
V E R D I C T
When reading this series I tried not to take is so seriously, and just enjoy it. And I succeeded! It was fun and definitely something I would recommend to fantasy fans. It’s got a lot of ingredients from other best-sellers, so I think it will tick a lot of boxes for people! I gave the series a solid 3 stars.