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.
Worldbuilding: My favorite part of the novel, the historical London with magic elements was charming without overdoing it – there’s such a thing as worldbuilding overkill sometimes, and I’m glad to say it didn’t happen here.
Characters:Rosa was adorable, and I loved her as soon as the story started. I mean, she’s an animal lover, has good solid principles and keeps trying to do the right thing while going through the age-specific flutters (gorgeous Sebastian would give anyone a flutter if they wouldn’t know him). I can’t say I was emotionally connected with Rosa though, we didn’t really click though I liked her.
Luke was nice, but I can’t say I was overwhelmed by his charm. Again, he was a good guy, tried to cope with what happened when he was a kid by trying to do what he thought was best at time, all the time. I liked him, but I wasn’t into him or the Rosa/Luke thing either.
I will mention that I found Sebastian charming to begin with, in fact the most charming character of the novel – until the dog moment. When you read this, you’ll know what I mean. I hated his guts but without passion from there on, and hence the only charismatic character (for me) was lost.
I had no favorite character, though I liked (or hated) many if not all of them. I will say that perhaps one of the things that kept my enthusiasm at bay was this sort of clear-line demarcation between good/bad guys. I don’t like clear lines, more of a blurred lines fan myself. But if you do like clear lines, you’ll love this story.
Plot: The story was fun, engaging and I particularly loved the whole factory tangent there at the end (cause I’m a sucker for righting wrongs, or at least trying). I felt events had the slightly slower rhythm I expect out of historical reads (different perception of time back in the day, ever notice that?), which I loved.
Writing: Third person narrative, Rosa and Luke’s POV. I loved the authentic, different voices of the characters and the classic-beauty-like air of the writing style.
Curb Appeal: Gorgeous cover, very tempting buy on that alone. Hooking blurb, definite impulse-buy material for a witch mood.
All in all, this was a good read but it didn’t get my heart pumping. If you’re into Young Adult historical reads with a touch of magic and good writing, do give this a try.