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Book Review: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker, by teen reviewer Lexi

witchhunter“I’m quiet for a moment, enchanted by the idea of something stealing over you, settling into you, and telling you, with absolute certainty, who you are and what you’re meant to do.”

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.

Review:

This is one of those types of books that you wish you could reread for the first time again so that you could experience the way you did when you read it the first go round.

This book was absolutely brilliant. The plot was spectacularly planned and executed. The characters had so much life in them that I felt like I knew exactly who they were. The imagery is also phenomenal, it was all so vivid in detail. Every part of this book had me mentally and emotionally attached. I couldn’t put it down once I picked it up, it was that good.

At first, I expected it to be that cliché love triangle where the main girl is so pretty but doesn’t think so and she gets the love interest of not only one boy but TWO!!! and she spends the whole book flipping back and forth between the boys trying decide which one she loves the most. HOWEVER!!, this was not the case. Elizabeth is quite ordinary and plain in the looks department. She at points compare herself to other girls but what girl doesn’t? It was her bravery, her strength, and her love that won her the boy. (Shout out to every girl who doesn’t meet the norm idea of what they should look like.) Elizabeth is a strong character with a flawless character development that blew me away when revealed in the end and in my opinion, we need more characters written like this. She goes through hell and back for the ones she cares about. She let’s go of the one person she had left because she knew she couldn’t hold on forever, that he was no longer good for her. To this I raise my tea cup to her. It is hard to let people go but this display of bravery teaches any person reading the book a valuable lesson about people who hold you back, the people whom assist you in advancing forward in life and what needs to be done to rid your life of the people who will only bring you down.

The last thing I want to touch on is the very first quote that caught my eye in this book: “But then he leaves. I watch him go, wishing more than anything I was the kind of girl who could make him stay.”

Every single friend i showed this to all had the same reaction: ‘Same’ *sad face*. This quote had everyone of us instantly relating to Elizabeth. That’s what the author needs to do in order to make their book a success with the reader. We need to connect to it somehow, relate to the characters, associate with it’s meaning. If we can’t do that then we lose interest. Virginia Boecker managed to get 5 teenage girls to relate and automatically love Elizabeth by one quote. That is amazing.

To end my review I must say that I could have easily wrote one word to sum up every emotion this book evoked. That word would have been WOW. It has been a very long time since I’ve read a fantasy novel this good. After a while it seems like every vampire book is the same and every witch book is the same but this one, this one was like drinking a cold glass of ice tea after going weeks suffering in the sweltering heat.

I hope there’s a sequel!!!

Published June 2, 2015 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. ISBN: 9780316327008

Cover Reveal: Beast in the Mirror by Laura Bradley Rede

We’re excited to share with you the cover reveal for Beast in the Mirror, Laura Bradley Rede’s forthcoming LGBT fantasy novella. Laura is a Minnesota author who I had the pleasure of meeting this past summer when she came to visit the YA book club I facilitate through the public library. We had a great time talking books and writing with Laura, as well as a bit of a wild (and fun!) time doing a writing prompt exercise. Check out Laura’s website, where you can find information on her other writing, and go follow her on Twitter, too. Laura’s novella will be available soon–we’ll share the release date when it’s out.

 

First, a blurb (isn’t blurb a weird word?):

 

Once upon a time, Bella Ashton was the teenage model to watch . That is, until her anorexia got the better of her and she passed out on the runway. Now, fresh off a year of eating disorder rehab, Bella is eager to get back in the game. But when she and her photographer cousin break into an abandoned Irish manor to stage a photo shoot, Bella finds herself face to face with the house’s owner: a hideous Beast who used to be a girl like her. Taken captive, the terrified Bella will do anything to escape. But as she learns more about the Beast, she discovers they aren’t that different—and that the Beast, in her own way, is a prisoner, too. How far will she go to save the Beast she’s slowly learning to love? And can finding the beauty in someone else help you find it in yourself?

 

Laura Bradley Rede gives the “tale as old as time” a fresh new twist in this queer, feminist reimagining.

 

(Please note:  This story’s intent is to be healing, but it does contains discussion of anorexia that may be triggering for some readers.)

 

And now for the stunning cover, designed by Damon Za

 

 

An excerpt from Beast in the Mirror:

“Teach me the bottom-hand part,” I say.

She looks at me doubtfully. “You play?”

“Not a note, but you can teach me, right? Just that one part.”

“Fine.” With her human hand, she arranges my fingers on the keys. “First this.”

I play a hesitant chord.

“And then like so.” She rearranges my fingers slightly. Her hand is very warm. Does she get hot under all that fur? My own hand trembles on the keys as she teaches me the rest of the phrase.

“Are you cold?” It sounds like an accusation. She frowns at me. Concern and annoyance look identical on her inhuman face, and I can’t tell which one she is feeling.

I shrug. “I’m always cold.”

“Why?” It’s not polite curiosity. The Beast just demands.

I almost say, None of your business, but I tend to talk when I’m nervous. I can’t help it. “When I was thin—”

“You are thin.”

“When I was thinner, it screwed up my thyroid or something. Or maybe it was just that I didn’t have any fat to burn for warmth, or for insulation or whatever. I felt cold all the time.”

The Beast frowns. “That sounds unpleasant.”

“It was painful, really.  I would wake up in the night with numb feet. My toes hurt if I touched them, like I had frostbite.” I should stop talking, but I can’t. “Once a doctor told me I should watch out for numbness in my arms—because it’s a heart attack symptom, you know? And my body had started eating my heart muscle? He was like, ‘Tell me right away if your arm goes numb,’ and I was like, ‘My arm has been numb for a month.'”

I’m kind of trying to be funny, but the Beast doesn’t get it. I think her scowl is a look of concern. “That sounds like torture.”

I play a wistful little tune on the piano. “I liked it, actually, at the time. Shivering burns calories. I’d drink a big glass of ice water and wrap up in a blanket and shake.”

The Beast stares at me for a long moment. “You’re a very unusual person.”

I laugh. “You’re calling me unusual?”

“I am.” Those eyes. So serious.

“Well, I’m not really unusual. I’m just a little further up the spectrum than some people. They’re like here.” I plunk a note towards the middle of the piano. I have to reach across The Beast to do it, which feels bold. “And I’m more like here.” I reach even farther past her, my arm brushing against her warm fur, and plink the third to highest note. Even as I do it, I wish I could be the highest.

I pull my hand back, self-consciously.

“And where am I?” The Beast asks, “Here?” She reaches around behind me with her bird claw and thuds the very lowest note. It echoes her deep, growling voice.

I laugh. “Something like that.”

The Beast leaves her arm around me for a heartbeat. At least, I think it would be a heartbeat. My own heart seems to be frozen in my chest.

Then she lets her arm drop. She puts her hands back on the piano. There’s an itchy little silence.

“Here, you said?” She plinks that third-highest note and a little chill goes through me, like she just ran her finger down my spine.

“And here, right?” I sound the lowest note. Its so deep, I feel the vibration in my core.

Her hand feels too far away from mine now. How many keys are there on a piano? Eighty-eight? So that means we’re…My mind won’t do simple math. I’m too distracted.

I trip my fingers back towards hers, hitting random notes along the way. She slides her hand back to meet me. Our fingers brush somewhere just south of the note I called “normal.”

“Can we play that piece of a song now?” I ask.

“If you haven’t forgotten it.” Her facial expressions are still too hard to read, but I’m starting to recognize a little glint in her eyes that means she’s joking.

“Of course not!” I say, and then realize I could have faked forgetting it and she would have shown me again, with her hand over mine.  But that would be lame, right?

“Then we can play,” she says, “But only if you stop shaking. I’m starting to think you’re afraid of me.”

“Not in the least.” I smile up at her. I know what I’m saying isn’t entirely true. On the scale of “fear” to “not fear,” I am still a middle note.

“Then you have to warm up,” she says. With her bird-claw hand, she pulls the edge of her curtain cape around me, resting her claws on my shoulders.

I stiffen. The bird hand is so strange, the talons so curved and sharp.

But I don’t let myself flinch away. I let myself feel it, warm and dry, the skin like scales. This must be what it feels like to touch a dragon.

“Ready?”

I nod. Together, we play: me haltingly thumping the chords, her patiently picking out the notes. It’s timed all wrong, the notes banging up against each other, like knocking teeth on a first kiss.