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The Witch Hunter Hardcover – June 2, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In this fantasy adventure set in an alternative medieval England, witchcraft of any kind is illegal, even though magic practitioners were welcomed in the past. Employed by the Inquisitor, Lord Blackwell, 16-year-old Elizabeth, and her best friend, Caleb, hunt witches who will be burned at the stake. Elizabeth fully believes that all magic is evil and must be destroyed. But when Blackwell finds her with some herbs, Elizabeth is declared a witch herself and is sentenced to die. She is rescued by an unlikely ally, the notorious wizard Nicholas Perevil, who wants her to fulfill a prophecy to save him from a deadly curse. The teen is skeptical of the witches, pirates, healers, and other Reformists who accompany Perevil and is afraid of what will happen when they discover she is a witch hunter. However, she gradually becomes suspicious of Blackwell's motives and must finally decide where her loyalties lie. Debut author Boecker's first-person, present tense narrative creates a suspenseful mood by allowing readers to see Elizabeth's secrets, doubts, and fears. Secondary characters are well realized and integral to the plot. The book has plenty of action—sword fights, battles with monsters, black magic, and betrayal—but there is also camaraderie and romance. The ending leaves room for a sequel. Fans of Kristin Cashore's Graceling (Houghton Harcourt, 2008) will see similarities in this story of a girl with deadly skills who begins to question using her services to benefit a brutal ruler. VERDICT This action-packed tale will be a welcome addition to most YA fantasy collections.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
A YALSA 2016 Teens Top Ten Nominee
"In her debut novel (a sequel is planned), Boecker has created an alternate sixteenth-century world whose characters are as intriguing as the magical world they inhabit...Woven within the complex fantasy is a new understanding of friendship and a tenuous but sweet Romeo and Juliet-like love story that promises to blossom, along with the witchcraft, mystery, and bloodletting."―Booklist
"Elizabeth is a compelling heroine, surrounded by strong supporting characters. Particularly compelling is Elizabeth's uneasy alliance with Fifer as they race to find answers, uncovering dark secrets along the way...First-time novelist Boecker delivers a promising debut. This reviewer is hoping Elizabeth's future adventures prove equally engaging."―VOYA
"The world-building here is comprehensive but concise...Thrilling action scenes combine with a twisting plot to spur readers forward. Perhaps most compelling, however, is Elizabeth's character arc, which moves her from a girl so beholden to the men in her life that she hands her body over both physically and sexually, to an autonomous young adult making decisions for herself....It will satisfy fans of warrior girls who realize their own power."―The Bulletin
"Those who like their stories fast-paced will enjoy this mashup of historical and fantasy. Ghouls, ghosts, magic, and supernatural creatures all appear, lending humor and creepiness in equal measure."―School Library Connection
"[Filled] with everything a good fantasy book needs: swords, poison, black magic, and betrayal. Elizabeth Grey is a tough, feisty protagonist whose fearless heart takes more twists and turns than the narrow city alleys in which the story opens. A fun, corpse-ridden, blood-drenched debut."―April Tucholke, author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
"Sassy and smart, this page-turning fantasy is full of action, wit, and magic. I ate it up in one sitting and demand more...now!"―Beth Revis, New York Times bestselling author of Across the Universe and The Body Electric
"Crisp writing, a fast pace with bloody action, and the all-important monster rats make this story of a bold but more-vulnerable-than-she-realizes witch hunter a strong fantasy debut."―Kate Elliott, author of Cold Magic and Court of Fives
"Elizabeth is an endearingly flawed heroine, and the other characters are just as nuanced and delightful. With an immersive world and fast-paced, addictive plot, The Witch Hunter is perfect for those looking for their next fantastical adventure."―Emily Lloyd-Jones, author of Illusive
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Top Customer Reviews
Anyone who knows me, knows that it is almost virtually impossible for me to resist a good witchy read and that, more than anything else, is what drew me to pick this up.
I'm so glad that I did because I was immediately drawn right into the story. If there is a second thing that lures me in besides a good tale full of magic and witchcraft, it is a strong heroine who knows how to kick a little butt and stand up and take charge and that is exactly who Elizabeth Grey, our heroine of the story is.
I won't go into to much detail about what happens but I will say that I was pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to get caught up in the story line and want to learn more about this world that Elizabeth lived in. And the secondary characters were every bit as fun and interesting as the rest.
No this wasn't some mind blowing read or even anything that maybe hasn't been done before but it still captured my attention and left me turning the pages and wanting more and most of all, I had a great time while doing it.
I really look forward to seeing the conclusion to this story and it will be high on my must read and finish list this summer.
The premise is great: high stakes that were borne out in the strong pacing. I liked Elizabeth, who struggles to reimagine her place in a world that no longer values her, but who remains strong and determined. But I loved her friends, and the tentative threads that bind them as their adventures unfold. Her growing relationship with a handsome healer was particularly strong, and I look forward to seeing where Virginia takes their relationship in the sequel.
Book #1: The Witch Hunter Series
Source: Netgalley and Purchase
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Elizabeth Grey has spent the bulk of her short life rooting out witches and witchcraft and watching as they are killed for their crimes. Elizabeth and her fellow witch hunters have been trained by Lord Blackwell to hate everything that is magic, to bring a stop to all that is magic so peace can once again reign in Anglia. Since she was orphaned during the magic-induced plague, Elizabeth has never known another family other than Lord Blackwell and her fellow witch hunters. With her from the beginning has been fellow hunter, Caleb Pace, the boy who found her after the plague took her parents and brought her with him to be trained as a hunter. Elizabeth thought nothing would ever tear her and Caleb apart and then she was arrested as a suspected witch.
For a week Elizabeth rots away in jail waiting for Caleb to come for her as he promised he would. When the time comes for her to be released (read executed), it isn’t Caleb who is her savior but the most wanted practitioner of witchcraft in the country, Nicholas Perevil. In an impressive display of magic, Nicholas not only steals Elizabeth from the jaws of death but he takes her into his home where she is cared for and returned to health. When Elizabeth wakes, she feels instantly as if she has gone from the frying pan into the fire and there is a really cute boy in the fire with her. John Raleigh is a healer who proves to Elizabeth through both his actions and words that not all magic is bad and not ever witch or wizard is out to accomplish evil deeds. In fact, the longer Elizabeth is with Nicholas and his band or outlaws the more she is confused by her life and her training. If magic isn’t all about evil then why has the crown been rooting it out for so long? Why have so many died?
Within days of being with Nicholas Elizabeth discovers she is now the most wanted person in Anglia, Nicholas is dying, she is part of large prophecy meant to restore Nicholas’s health, and Lord Blackwell may not be everything he has shown the world. With few choices and mounting doubts about the nature of witch hunting, Elizabeth agrees to help Nicholas and his group. Though Nicholas warned Elizabeth not to reveal her with hunter status to the group circumstances just keeping cropping up that reveal Elizabeth’s nature to the group which creates a tension not needed in a situation already fraught with tension and danger. The group is forced to travel and risk getting caught but saving Nicholas’s life is worth it. He has been cursed and destroying the curse tablet is the only way to save him. With her witch hunting skills being called upon at every turn, Elizabeth is stunned to find out not only who cursed Nicholas but why it was done in the first place.
The longer the group is together the more opportunity Elizabeth has to sort out her feelings and for the group to figure out they really can trust her. Everything and everyone Elizabeth has ever known has been called into question and as she sorts through the pieces of the puzzle she begins to understand the significant shift in her loyalties and what she must to do in order to protect those she has come to care for. Elizabeth must walk right into the enemy’s camp in order to save Nicholas and when the chips are down, she is ready, willing, and able to fight to death.
The Bottom Line: The Witch Hunter is a very slow start but if you are willing to hang on to about the halfway mark, your patience will be rewarded. Elizabeth is a strangely likeable character who has lived a lot of life in a very short amount of time. In many instances, I forgot Elizabeth’s age given the circumstances she finds herself in and how she handles herself throughout. In the face of incredible odds, Elizabeth calls on her training to keep herself calm and save those around her. She is brave and daring and so courageous when she is forced to face her worst fears. In addition to Elizabeth, The Witch Hunter offers a strange mix of characters including Nicholas Perevil (a super-powerful yet kind wizard), the healer, John Raleigh (love him), the angry yet talented witch, Fiffer Birch (she takes some getting used to) and, the muscle and jokester, George (he is hard to dislike). The group dynamic changes considerably over the course of the read as it should and will continue to do so as the series continues. The plot is interesting but as I mentioned previously, it is a very slow start. The read picks up the pace significantly at about the halfway mark with a lot of action and drama packed into the last half of the read. There were some instances/scenes throughout the read I found to be extraneous and could have easily been eliminated from the read in order to increase the pacing of the book. There isn’t necessarily a cliffhanger with this read but it is very clear in the final pages that the author is far from finished with this cast of characters!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2015. While I definitely enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping to.Read more