Author – S.A Carter
Published – Jan 2015
I’ve been making an effort in recent months to read and review books by other Indie and self-pub Authors. From the start of 2015 I’ve decided to review any that I give 3 stars or over on my blog.
As per my previous post on the subject, I am also very interested in swapping honest reviews with other authors, so please get in touch if you’d like to swap reviews
From Amazon –
When Elena is given a kuthun on the morning of her birthday she is unaware of the ancient magic it wields. Tormented by dreams, and haunted by a curse that has plagued her family of witches for centuries, she must uncover the truth about her destiny, or face an uncertain future.
As the last remaining female descendant of her bloodline, Elena must confront her enemy in a fight for survival, that sees her forced towards the brink of darkness.
When the time comes to choose between the life she knows, and a life she must give, will she be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?
This is a very readable story, I had already read the first 5 chapters before I realised it, having just sat down to read the opening chapter.
The main character Elena is a sassy, quirky hipster. At first I was wary of this – I’m so fed up of sassy glib heroines. But actually Elena isn’t overdone and her introduction doesn’t consume the opening of the story. In fact the opening is very strong and places the reader immediately into Elena’s life. My only criticism of the introduction is that I didn’t feel it needed the mention of pop culture witches to frame it, it could have spoken as strongly for itself. In fact this was something that I felt throughout the story – the pop culture references were jarring for me and could end up dating the story.
We discover almost immediately that Elena is a witch in a long line of witches. I really love the other worldliness that is there from the beginning with her ghostly great grandmother, tales of the afterlife or “The Other Side” and her mother’s missing spirit. Elena is given an unusual and mysterious birthday present – the Kuthun – and we learn more about her powers and the curse on her family – that they have all been hunted and killed by a group of Puritan hunters called the “Venators”. We learn of connections to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, Salem witch trials, and the Native American old west and it all feels jumbled and too busy at first but by the halfway mark this starts to come together and is a well weaved tale.
The story is engaging throughout however there are a few weak parts, most of which are easy to let go – some details are glossed over or written off, for example as “certain documents”, which requires the reader to just accept historical gaps. However, most would be happy to do so for the compelling story. That said I do feel that the story overall was missing the level of gravitas you might expect from a tale of a girl who knows that in her future lies a gruesome and unfair death, most especially during the trip to Egypt towards the end of the story. It also felt that there was an explanation missing as to why the Venators left her alone/were unable to find her for so long when there didn’t appear to be much effort made to hide her.
The ending is strong – from Elena’s revelation of the roots of her family and her promises to her ancestor to the final confrontation with the Venator who has been hunting her – the story has a satisfactory conclusion but leaves another intriguing mystery to be solved in the sequel.
I really enjoyed this book, but can’t help but feel it could have gone further. It often feels like it is on the verge of something great but never takes the next leap. I enjoyed the exploration of Ellie being the villain from another point of view and the Salem witch trials being a cover up. Would have loved to explore it more from the side of the Venators “baddies” and hope we learn more about them and their side of the story in the sequel, which I am looking forward to reading.