The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

witch hunter

3 out of 5 stars

I received an ARC of this book.

The description of this book on Goodreads really drew me in. It sounded a lot like a fantasy version of the Salem Witch Trials, so instead of hunting and burning scared old women, they would be facing off against real witches. So cool! There could be these epic battles between witches and witch hunters and it would be really exciting and imaginative.

What I got was somewhat inventive. Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters in the kingdom, until she is caught with herbs in her pocket and sentenced to death. She is rescued from jail, but instead of her best friend, it is the kingdom’s most wanted wizard who breaks her out. Now also a wanted criminal, Elizabeth has to decide who will finally win her loyalty.

What was unfortunate about the setup of this book is Elizabeth spends so much time in hiding with the rebel witches and wizards the setting and the magical system never really get explored to the reader’s satisfaction. There is not much before and after her hiding away so we don’t see much of the world, and since the witches don’t really trust her, we do not get to see how magic works in this fictional universe. Most of the book seemed to be short conversations with various characters in which biographical details were gained, and Elizabeth trying to figure out who to trust. There does end up being some action at the end, and there is a dramatic reveal of hitherto unknown information, but the promise of the premise gets really overridden by a plot that really restricts information about the world it is set in.

We never get to know the characters very intimately. We see Elizabeth react to quite a few different stimuli, but you never get a real sense of her personality or inner voice. We have even less sense of the other characters. There are a couple rebel boys her age and I kept getting them confused since they seemed so similar. I would have enjoyed this book a lot more had I gotten to know the characters better. I found it difficult to care about what happened to them because, even most of the way through the book, they were still strangers.

The plot was very standard, with no real surprises. Girl works for evil government, girl meets rebels, girl falls for one of the rebels, girl has to decide who to trust. There was nothing you really couldn’t see coming if you are familiar with the genre. It wasn’t bad, just not very innovative.

I was fairly disappointed in this book because I had come in with fairly high expectations. It is entertaining and I am glad I read it, but nothing really caught my attention as groundbreaking.


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