‘Witch Hunter’ is book one in a set of books currently to include two novels and two novellas by Virginia Boecker.
Elizabeth Grey lives in a world not unlike ours in the 1500s but hers contains magic which is her job to stamp out as she is a witch hunter. You see, magic is the root of all evil within her world or at least that’s what most people are taught as it brought about a plague created by one particularly nasty wizard called Nicholas Perevil. Therefore, Elizabeth spends her days hunting out witches, wizards and necromancers to send to prison and will eventually be either burnt at the stake or hung until dead. This is all well and good until Elizabeth discovers that she is also a witch and she, in turn, is hunted, even by those she has come to see as family. After being imprisoned and finding no help from her friends, she is eventually rescued by the previously mentioned Perevil. Now she is on the run and is amongst the people and creatures that she used to hunt but now has to rely on for her safety.
I really enjoyed this book but I can’t rave over it, although it was a good, enjoyable, well-written read but nothing ground-breaking or spectacular to my mind. I did like that Elizabeth is forced to rethink her previous preconceptions of who was bad and who was good in her world, but I did feel that in her previous life as a witch hunter she did seem very naive. She also seemed to just follow orders given to her rather than really look at what was happening, which I guess was because she had her spirit broken during her training, which we eventually learn about and I found pretty horrifying. But it really didn’t take much evidence for her to look back at her life and see the inconsistencies in the stories and justifications given to her as reasons for killing off all magic users.
I liked that the love story wasn’t one of insta-love as it was an interesting slow burn with none of the usual nonsense associated with romance in a YA book. In fact, this is one of the reasons I want to carry on with the series, to see what happens with Elizabeth and her romantic interest (I don’t want to spoil this by giving their name for obvious reasons). I did also find myself interested in the other characters such as Caleb and would like to learn a little more about their past to see why they behave in the way that they do. I’d also like to see some of the other countries outside of Anglia to see how they are dealing with magic.
With regard the magic element of the book, I liked that Boecker introduced us to things such as the witches ladder, which is not something I’ve seen in other witch-based books. I would like to see more of the other creatures mentioned in the book other than witches, maybe we could learn more about them in further books or spin-offs? In this book, we simply saw them in passing, more of an introduction to them than anything else.
Oh and this book is nothing like ‘Game Of Thrones’, which it has been blurbed as being similar to. To be fair, this is a YA book, so there’s no way it really could be. There is not as much political intrigue or as much death but this doesn’t make it a bad book, just a different book.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, more so as it progressed this wasn’t an instant hit with me. I do want to read others in this series to see how everyone gets on and to see if we get to learn more about the characters past, and get to see more of the other magical creatures in this world.
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(pub: Orchard Books. 416 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-40833-522-2)
check out website: www.hachettechildrens.co.uk/homepage_orchardbooks.page