Monday, July 20, 2015

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boeker

The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boeker
Release Date - June 2, 2015
Publisher Website - Little Brown/Hachette
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 368 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.
The cover, synopsis, and details known about The Witch Hunter might lead you to expect a darker, more sinister read. I certainly was expecting that when picking up my copy of the book. Virginia Boeker instead delivers up action sequences that are fast paced, and engaging. A romance that is tentative and kind. A plot that is filled with intrigue and reveals and overall while not quite what I envisioned was enjoyable nonetheless.

This is a novel that requires patience. It rewards those who let the story unravel at the pace in which it needs to by providing the answers you need. The pacing is more methodical, and measured allowing the characters and the reader time to breathe and take in the information being presented. It's a change from most novels of this genre, but a welcome one. There is plenty of action, romance, secrets and betrayals to keep your interest, but the answers are revealed in a particular order for a reason that becomes clear at the end. Those seeking instant gratification may find themselves itching to sneak ahead, but the pay off is all the greater when it happens.

The world building in this novel has received it's fair share of praise around the book community. I did enjoy the blending of historical with a more contemporary twist. The magic that exists within these pages was given it's own spin by Virginia Boeker and it's spellbinding. Being allowed a glimpse at both sides of the story (that of the witch hunters and the witches) allowed you to understand the characters more, and adds a little more depth the world that has been created for these characters.

Elizabeth Grey is someone who has pretty much been brainwashed. She's been raised since a young age to believe that magic caused a horrific plague that killed innocent people. She's been groomed, trained and taught to distrust magic and those who wield it. As she interacts with those who use magic she has to work though years of conditioning and hatred. It's natural that she would struggle to accept this new truth. Moments can not erase years of hatred being implanted in her. It's enough that she is willing to question and start the journey down the path of making amends. It's also natural that she'll stumble during the journey. I found her imperfections, and mistakes made her seem all the more human.

The other characters are where Virginia Boeker's character development shines. In particular Fifer, who completely steals the thunder from any other character. She's unapologetic, head strong, loyal, and surprising. Her character surprised me the most out of all of them because she was taken to unexpected, but welcome, places. My wish for subsequent novels is more time spent with the characters in general now that the world has been fully established.

The why behind Elizabeth being accused of being a witch was the only real misstep for me in the novel. Without giving away spoilers, Elizabeth is put into a position that requires her to seek the aid of some items that are associated with witches. The reason she needs them is one that I feel was brushed away too hastily. It wasn't given the proper weight I feel it required. I am hoping that future novels will rectify this as it feels like a glaring omission as it would surely weigh heavily on her going forward.

This novel boasts an imaginative plot and clever world building. After turning the last page I was beyond hooked and desperate for the sequel. Elizabeth Grey's journey is one I am excited to continue as I hope the author to continues to have her grow and change. Fans of fantasy like novels with a historical setting will certainly be interested in picking this one up.

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