The Witch Hunter (Original Pub Date: 06/01/15)

“Nicholas says that magic isn’t inherently good or bad, it’s what people do with it that makes it that way. It took me a long time to understand that. Once I did, I realized it isn’t magic that separates us from them, or you from me. It’s misunderstanding.”

Title: The Witch Hunter
Author: Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter #1
Publication: June 2nd 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre: Fantasy, Witches, Romance, Historical Fiction
Pages: 368
Source: Publisher at ALA

Summary:
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.

My Thoughts:
Historical Fiction in Young Adult books is are far too rare for my taste. I love history, I love fiction, and I love Young Adult literature – why can’t there be more of what I love? Books like this only make me want more and more of what isn’t there…yet. When I found out about The Witch Hunter, and boy let me tell you did I find out a long time ago, I was ecstatic. It was in my top ten books to grab at ALA. Want to know the best part? I got to meet Virginia and she signed my book! She was so nice, and it only made me more excited to read the book.  Not only is The Witch Hunter a fantasy novel, it was Historical Fiction set back in a medieval like setting. To be honest, when I read the description of the book I thought it was going to be something reminiscent of the crusades. I do want to point out the fact that the earlier time period was a perfect fit for the overall tone of the story. In this world, all magic is forbidden. If you are caught practicing witchcraft or even holding a herb that is considered to be linked to any form of witch craft you were arrested and burnt at the stake – sound familiar? It was like a wonderfully strange mix between the crusades and the Salem witch hunts. There are, of course, two sides. The side that opposes the ban on magic is called the Reformists, and this is the side that Elizabeth finds herself on for the majority of the novel after they help her to escape from a fatal situation. I do have to say that I really loved the historical aspect of this novel. All the lords and ladies, formal gowns, sword fights and pubs were perfect additions to set the stage for this amazing book.

When we first meet Elizabeth, are heroine, she is watching a witch burn. As an individual, Elizabeth was really interesting. Here, at least according to how she thinks other people view her, we have a small female that supposedly looks too cute and innocent to be a witch hunter and yet she is one of the best there is – or rather, she was. Elizabeth is clever, brave, strong-willed, and an all-around good person. Despite what her job is, she is very afraid of being alone and losing her one friend, Caleb. She was loyal, too, and that was something I really liked. Sure, we get a lot of loyal heroines – but I still love seeing it.

Elizabeth was not the only amazing character, the supporting cast was just as wonderful – if not more so at certain points in the book. Fifer is one of the witches that Elizabeth is forced into working with after her escape, and I think she is one of the biggest surprises this book had to offer. She is nasty, and not in the dark and gritty sense, but in the sense that she is basically a medieval bitch. I did like her though, she was fierce and unapologetic – and her personality shines much brighter than Elizabeth’s does during some parts of the novel, but at other points I wanted to punch her in the face. The other character that I think is absolutely amazing is John, the main love interest. He is patient, he is gentle, and he blushes – how adorable is that? John is a healer and we first meet him after he finishes healing Elizabeth of her injuries and sickness from the jail she was thrown into. I wish we had gotten more time with him and more relationship development, but I guess that is what the sequel is for. One thing I will say, though, is this: Boecker was able to develop her characters in such a way that I rarely see within one single book.
The Witch Hunter is one of those rare reads where you begin to feel so immersed and invested into the story and the culture that you forget to put the laundry in the dryer, burn your dinner, and the bathtub drastically overflows. I recommend The Witch Hunter for anyone ages thirteen and up that enjoys a good fantasy novel with a historical twist. It’s gruesome at points, with references to sex and an allusion to past sexual assault on a character, but nothing too graphic on that front. Filled with animated and complex characters, pirates, and hostile ghosts, The Witch Hunter is a delightful tale of magic, love, and betrayal that will leave you satisfied yet burning for more.

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