Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Reading on a Theme: Witches in Young Adult Fiction

I'm always up for a little magic in my books and witches are a great way to deliver that dose of magic. In compiling this Reading on a Theme, I was pleased to see that we have witches in every circumstance here. There are witches who are villains and heroes, and witches who are much more complicated than that. The settings run the gamut from 19th-century London to full-blown fantastical worlds. Who is your favorite witch? 

1880s London:
The final task in Luke Lexton's initiation into a secret society of witch hunters  is to pick a witch's name at random from a ledger and then kill this witch. The name he picks is Rosamund Greenwood. Rosa isn't what Luke expected; sure she can do magic, but really she's just a girl with problems of her own. Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton reminded me a bit of Anna Godberson's The Luxe series, but with magic. Both books are set in the late 1800s, feature the economic misfortune of a once-wealthy family, and contain an "inappropriate" love interest serving as a stable boy. It's a good recipe for a story. It's an entertaining tale with an action-packed climax. Review copy from NetGalley.

Salem in a Parallel Reality:
Lily Proctor has a whole slew of debilitating allergies. After a particularly embarrassing and life-threatening reaction in front of her classmates, Lily wishes that she could disappear. And then she does. She ends up in a parallel reality, one ruled by witches and the most powerful witch is named Lillian.  Lily learns she has the capacity to become a powerful witch herself. The world-building in the World Walker Trilogy is top-notch as are the characters. Lily has a very strong voice, and I loved how the relationship between Lily, Rowan, Tristan, and Caleb developed. I'm also fascinated by Juliet and Lillian. I can't wait to read the final installation, Witch's Pyre, out in September 2016.

In Heir of Fire, the third book in Sarah J. Maas's Throne of Glass series, we continue to follow Caelena, Dorian, and Chaol, but we also have the addition of a new perspective--Manon Blackbeak. Manon of the Ironteeth Witches and heir to the Blackbeak Clan and her Thirteen have been summoned to perform a special role in the king's forces. I think it takes a lot of guts to introduce a whole new perspective this late in a series. Luckily, Sarah J. Maas has a whole ton of fans who trust her, and I, for one, grew to like the witches more and more with every chapter. There's a reason that Sarah J. Maas and Celaena are the queens of the YA fantasy world right now. Who's excited for Empire of Storms?

In a world where magic is illegal and witches and wizards are put to death, Elizabeth Grey is one of the king's best witch hunters until she's accused of witchcraft herself and sentenced to burn. Nicolas Perevil, fugitive, leader of the resistance, and most powerful wizard alive, breaks her out of her cell. He has come because a seer has foretold that only Elizabeth can break the curse that is killing Nicolas. Virginia Boecker delivered a great debut with The Witch Hunter. I love the dank and gritty atmosphere. The characters, especially those whom Elizabeth meets in Nicolas's home, are really excellent. Like Elizabeth, I'm pretty taken by John. I'm excited for the next in the series, The King Slayer, out in June. Review copy from NetGalley.

The Witchlands:
The Witchlands are home to Merik, a windwitch and prince of a downtrodden nation, Safiya, a truthwitch able to detect truth from lies, and Iseult, a treadwitch who can see the bonds that connect people. The three team up to keep Safi safe. I appreciate the complex political environment and the ethnically diverse characters in Susan Dennard's new series.
With a compelling plot and strong characters, this book is a great set-up for the books that will follow; books that I'm sure will build in intensity and complexity. I have a feeling that the sequels will be better, maybe much better, than Truthwitch, and Truthwitch is good. Out January 5th, 2016. Preview from NetGalley.

All reviews by JoLee.

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