Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ARC Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Title: The Witch Hunter
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Author: Virginia Boecker
Published: June 2, 2015 by Little Brown Young Readers
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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. 

Virginia Boecker weaves a riveting tale of magic, betrayal, and sacrifice in this unforgettable fantasy debut.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley and at BEA in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

The Witch Hunter is one of those debuts that I was really excited about reading. It's a high fantasy with historical elements and what sounds like lots of political intrigue and interesting magic. But after seeing a few mixed reviews I went into the book cautiously optimistic, which is exactly how I ended this book. It was an interesting read that I liked but I wasn't quite blown away like I was hoping.

Unfortunately one of the things that didn't work for me was the characters. Most of them just felt a little one-dimensional to me. There were a few halfway decent secondary characters but only a few felt like they had any depth or development for me. I'm not usually the kind of reader who needs to connect with the characters to enjoy a story. In fact I like in likable characters. But I need to understand why the characters are acting this way. For our MC in particular, I didn't understand her motivations. I don't need a kickass female protagonist all the time in fact it's sometimes nice to find a character who is more well-rounded but I found Elizabeth to be a bit of a damsel in distress she started out to be a strong female protagonist, which was especially strange because she started out to be pretty tough and savvy. She did have some decent character development and I thought she was going to take matters into her own hands but it didn't work out that way. But more than that I found her naive, overly-trusting, and even flippant at times. It was hard to connect with her and the story.

Speaking of that story, I did ultimately enjoy it despite the fact that it felt a little basic at times. The synopsis makes it sound like a dark tale of political intrigue but that's not what it was at all. There was a little political intrigue but it was thrown in at the end and almost felt like an afterthought. To me, the real plot was different. It was much more mysterious, which I liked. It was one of those quest type of stories which can be hit or miss for me, but here it worked. The character went searching for clues, interpreting prophecies, and generally attempting to find something. Unlike a lot of mysteries in YA fantasies I didn't find this one predictable and when a plot twist seemed obvious to me, it was pointed out to the character too. The mystery felt genuine and engaging. But even better than that was the action of the story. This was definitely a thrilling read. It was full of fight scenes, near deaths, and lots of adventure. I seriously cruised through this book once it started diving into that mystery. But it did take a little while for that to kick into gear. The beginning of the book was a little slower paced and there were more than a few things that happened which didn't seem to connect to the overarching plot and mystery. Then like I said, the political intrigue in the end seemed to come out of nowhere. If the mystery had been the focus in the beginning I think I may have liked it a little bit more. But on the whole it was a thrilling and interesting read, if a little basic.

The other thing I found basic but still engaging was the world of this book. It's an alternative 16th Century which you see a lot of in high fantasy novels, but it's one of the things I like out of the genre. It gave the book a much more historical feel and as a fan of that genre as well I enjoyed the It fit so well with the magic of the book too. It was a little bit of folk magic and a little bit of mysticism. It was subtle and didn't overpower the world or the plot. It felt more realistic that way. If you are a follower of My Thoughts Lit you know that I usually like my magic to be big and flashy but here it was nice that it was more subtle. The magic that we did see was interesting and like all good magical systems had clear rules and was specific to that character. It gave the book a little more depth and made it more engaging.

The Witch Hunter was a good read with a lot going for it but my inability to connect with the main character and a slower plot development in the beginning made it feel a little basic for me.

I give The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker 7.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. Though this book wasn't totally for me it was a good read. If you are a fan of YA fantasies and quest stories definitely check this book out. It's a fast and interesting read with lots of action that I think will appeal to a lot of different people.

Have you read The Witch Hunter? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. It's interesting you don't seem completely sold on this one, what with all these raving reviews. Too bad you couldn't connect with the MC, on to the next, great read.

    1. Yes, I was a little disappointed I didn't love it in the same way a lot of people did. You can't win 'em all I guess. It was a good read but didn't blow me away.

  2. Awww I'm sad you didn't like this one more but happy you didn't hate it! I loved it and can't wait for more hehe~

    1. Yeah, me too. I can definitely see why a lot of people loved it, there was just a few things I didn't connect with. It also came at a weird time for me. I may have liked it more if I hadn't read it during BEA and had a book that had blown me away. It was good though.

  3. I've also seen a lot of mixed reivews on this one. I think the one-dimensional characters will bug me unless the plot is really compelling. Of course, it sounds like the plot is a little all over the place, which is concerning. Hopefully, it exceeds my expectations.

    Sarcasm & Lemons

    1. I think that was my problem entirely. I didn't connect with the MC and the plot didn't blow me away. I think the only think that I loved was the world and a fantastic world doesn't a great book make. I hope you love it though, I know a lot of people have.

  4. I love you love it Michelle. I really enjoyed it.

  5. I have the ARC from BEA and it's in my TBR pile for this month, so I hope I'll get to it soon! Glad to hear you liked it enough, even if you didn't love it too much!