Title: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Genre: Fantasy YA
Synopsis: 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.
I received a copy of this in eARC format in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I liked the book. I liked it a lot. It was a great fantasy with enough romantic tension to keep me engaged. That being said, I struggled to get involved and it was probably about half-way through when I really began to care for the MC Elizabeth. Once I was engaged, I couldn’t put it down, but it did take about a dozen chapter for me to get there. Anyway, let’s break this down.
What I liked: While the main character Elizabeth did not begin as someone I was invested in, her journey throughout the novel was incredibly poignant, and even though this was a fantasy I thought some of the conclusions she came to at the end of the book were very powerful. There’s a scene where she discusses coming to the realization that she was not and will never be enough for her childhood crush. Even in the midst of the action, this scene stood out to me as one of, if not the most, powerful scene in the entire novel. By letting go of certain things, Elizabeth is able to finally be a brave woman instead of a frightened girl. Though she is not one of my favorite female YA characters, I think her journey was the most relate-able. Crazy because this is a book about magic and witch hunters. Strangely enough, the pieces of this book I enjoyed the most had nothing to do with the fantasy aspects. The most powerful parts, the most explosive parts where in how Boecker has her characters interact. The humanizing aspects were the one’s that really stood out for me, and at the end I was left with a feeling of both empowerment. Gosh darn, I had a strange amount of feels over the ending. It ends a little vaguely, but there was a certain beauty about the domesticity it displays. I’m curious to see where book two picks up from.
What I didn’t like: I spent about 90% of the books confused as hell. I mean this had a complicated backstory and I felt like I missed a huge chunk of important events that would have explained all the stories. I need a novella that gives me a little more history about the world. Is there some sort of world codex? My absolute biggest point of contention is that there is a whole story line centered around a potential pregnancy that felt very swept under the rug. I can guess the events that occurred but considering this played a huge part in the beginning of the story, I felt like it needed to be ingrained a little further. It was like “bombshell bad things,” and then “oh just kidding, no big deal.” Like huh?
Overall, this book was very story. I’m a lover of good character stories and this was a story with very good characters. 4/5