London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.
Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.
Paperback, 374 pages
Published January 2nd 2014 by Hodder Children's Books(info grabbed from GoodReads)
WITCH FINDER is a wonderful and atmospheric read, but with a few hang-ups. The story was very dry -- dry is the best way I can put it, I think. Not that I’m sure what a moist story would be, but it’s definitely the opposite of WITCH FINDER. The dryness in addition to being a somewhat depressing story made this book harder to read for me and even harder to review. I’m rather torn: I did enjoy the story and remained interested while reading, but it was hard to keep reading for long or the world would seem to turn gray around me.
The treatment Rosa experiences is absolutely abhorrent. It was hard to stomach at times and honestly left a bad taste in my mouth after reading some passages. I had to take this book baby steps at a time because there was just only so much sadness I can handle reading at a time. Also, animal lovers be warned: there are some despicable things that happen to a puppy and a horse.
The romance was sweet, but felt kind of forced and the pacing was off. It was hard to believe that someone with such hatred towards witches could fall in love with one knowing exactly what she was. I mean, I adore forbidden love, but this one didn’t feel right. Not quite instalove, but close; our main man’s transition between being murderous and then in love felt a bit cut short. Also, let me repeat that: he is murderous. He is actually plotting her demise and falls in love with her. Just sayin’.
While the romance was hard to swallow and Rosa’s life was draped in sadness, I think the book really excels in its world building. The story is crafted in a darkly realistic Victorian London where witches are real and deadly. I liked how the author pulled together fantasy and historical fiction to make a Victorian magical realistic setting. It was different, and I happen to really like different.
I will more than likely continue with this series, as I am super interested to see where the story is going. Though WITCH FINDER seemed a little messy and had its ups and downs, I overall still really liked it. I’m hoping to feel a bit more connected to the story in the sequel, but I guess we’ll see on that.
Final Thought: 3 out of 5 toadstools
This review is also posted on GoodReads