I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on June 2nd 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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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.Virgnia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice that will leave readers wanting more.
I am essentially a magpie when it comes to books about witches. I can’t resist them. When you throw comparisons to Graceling in the mix, GAME OVER, I am convinced that I must read the book. The Witch Hunter by debut author Virginia Boecker is an alternate history young adult fantasy book. It is compelling, fiercely gripping and well written. This book is a unique and worthy addition to the ever expanding young adult fantasy genre. It has character development and world building in spades.
Boecker’s debut is told from the first person viewpoint of Elizabeth Grey. Elizabeth is the titular witch hunter. You see, she lives in a world where witches are considered Reformists and magic is considered evil. Elizabeth’s job is to ferret out witches with her elite group and take them to a character named Blackwell alive. From there, the witches are imprisoned and interrogated. PLOT TWIST! Elizabeth is arrested for witchcraft when she is found with pregnancy preventing herbs, essentially birth control, in her pockets. She thinks it is all a mistake. However, it is zero hour when Elizabeth is rescued by the most infamous wizard, Nicholas Perevil. Perevil offers her a deal — Elizabeth must break a curse on him and if she does, she will keep her life. The Witch Hunter is an excellent read, where the point isn’t quite the curse, but re-examining what it means to be good and evil in a world where magic is outlawed.
If you like characters that have big realizations and that are dynamic as the book goes along, rather than static in their beliefs, you will love Elizabeth Grey. When The Witch Hunter opens, Elizabeth is quite steadfast in her belief that all witches are bad and evil. She doesn’t understand why anyone would perform magic and go against Blackwell. As she lives with Nicholas Perevil, the famous wizard who saves her, Elizabeth’s thoughts and feelings begin to change. She begins to develop empathy for the plight of the magic users.Furthermore, character traits of Elizabeth’s that I admired were that she’s little and so she’s consistently underestimated. Yet, Elizabeth is a fierce contender. I liked that eventually she did open up her mind to different possibilities. She’s a courageous character and one who is actually compelling enough to carry the story.
Boecker’s historical fantasy is set in a world that is quite similar to our own. The time period echoes the medieval era but also reminded me a little bit of Cromwellian England. As I read the book, I noticed that the society seems to be a patriarchy where currently men hold all the power — there is a King, there’s Blackwell who is essentially Lord Protector, there’s Perevil who is the most powerful wizard. It’s interesting though that Elizabeth, a female, is the one who must save Perevil and break the curse. The magic within this book is interesting too. Each magic user sort of has different strengths and some have different specialties like healing and necromancy. I liked that magic wasn’t some unlimited resource and deus ex machina.
If you like kissing books and romances, you’re in luck when reading The Witch Hunter. As the book opens, Elizabeth has this best friend from childhood named Caleb who has helped her get into the witch hunters and who seems to always have her back. I started the book thinking Elizabeth would end up with Caleb. However, when she goes to live with Perevil, there’s a new contender – John, the son of a pirate and a healer. John is awesome and let me just say that I really like what develops between the two.
In all, this book sort of surprised me with how good it was. The Witch Hunter is certainly worth adding to your summer to be read pile.