Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Witchstruck

Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
3.5/5 stars
HarlequinTeen, 2013
303 pages
YA Historical Fantasy

Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I'm a bit surprised not to have seen more reviews of this. Though historical fiction, it does feature witchcraft and HarlequinTeen is an imprint I trust to put out the kinds of books I tend to like. Though this one was not an all-around winner, I am still curious enough to want to try the sequel, due March 2014.

Going back to 1554, Lady Elizabeth is under house arrest under suspicions of treasonous dealings against her sister Queen Mary who is preparing to marry the Spanish Catholic Prince Philip, perhaps birthing an heir and forever stifling England in Catholicism. Accompanying Elizabeth is a small cohort including Meg, a witch who must navigate her own tricky path in deeply superstitious patriarchal England.

This book initally caught my attention due to its historical setting (I adore Elizabeth but haven't read much about her life under her sister's reign) combined with the paranormal element of witchcraft, being that fear of witches and their persecution was rampant, women without a male's protection being especially vulnerable to such a charge.

What's striking to me in hindsight is comparing Elizabeth and Meg's journeys over the course of the book. Though neither gets to travel much given that Elizabeth is under house arrest for almost the entire book, they share many parallels. Both are young women whose mothers died young with rather uncaring fathers, currently under the control of someone else's indifference. Both would be given in marriage by others for political gain (Elizabeth to a royal prince, Meg to the powerful local witchfinder). And both attempting to wrangle power as Elizabeth wants to cement her position as heir to the throne and Meg wants to consolidate her witchly powers. Both would also like to just plain survive, which is threatened at several points.

The problem comes about as I was absolutely fascinated with Elizabeth but less enthralled with Meg, who is our main character. I thought Meg was kind of dumb and unduly possessed with growing her powers especially as she's under almost constant surveillance. I would prize survival higher and it's only when she's almost caught on several occasions that she ever really considers this. I was frustrated with her at several parts for the dumb choices she made though I do admire her determination to correct the wrongs.

Probably my least favorite part was a budding romance with a Spanish priest Alejandro who is planning to join an order that does allow for marriage albeit with some vows of chastity for most of the year (this is told to us several times). I was not charmed by him though he's certainly the best male character depicted as almost every other male is absolutely vile. I was not feeling the sparks!

Overall: This book just lacked some magic for me-I found the writing easy enough to follow but I wasn't thrilled with anything. I plan to check out book two and hope for more amazement there.

Cover: I love the colors and seeing Woodstock but I'm not really a fan of what we can see of the girl's face-it's just awkward.

Other Opinions:
Buried in Books
Inspiring Insomnia
The Reader Bee

30 comments:

  1. I love historical fiction, but it's a real shame that this book was sadly lacking. I think I'll be skipping it after all. Great review, though!(:

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    1. I was very disappointed-usually I have great experiences with this publisher but the addictive writing and characters I expected just weren't there.

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  2. Uh oh. This is the second review I've read by a blogger I trust where the book was found to be disappointing. I have a feeling I wouldn't like Meg very much either. I was interested in reading the book because of the Tudor setting but at least you seemed to like the parts with Elizabeth so maybe I will too.

    I agree with you about the cover and think the UK cover is better.

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    1. I was surprised not to see more reviews until I read it myself and realized others probably shared my opinion but weren't willing to write negatively about it.

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  3. Sorry it lacked the magic to make it spectacular

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    1. Great one-sentence summary of my thoughts Brandi :)

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  4. That's surprising - HarlequinTeen is usually great about the sparks.

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    1. Right? I had much higher expectations because of their name-hope the sequel turns it up!

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  5. I actually just ordered this one so I'm sad it wasn't more amazing, but it sounds like it's still worth the read and I'm looking forward to giving it a try!

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    1. I look forward to seeing your thoughts-maybe you will find more redeeming than I did.

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  6. Hmm...It's always a bummer when a book with a ton of potential doesn't quite hit the mark. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I think the idea is very inventive and just different enough from other historical fantasies but it didn't quite sing.

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  7. Awe, I thought from the sounds of it that it would be really good. Too bad it really isn't. I'll think I will hold out for my library to carry it. :(

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    1. I love the concept so much but we did not click. Hope you give it a try and help me think further on it.

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  8. I LOVE witchy books--but they are often very hit or miss with me. I got this one on NG but haven't read it yet--but like you I was intrigued by the historical setting. Sounds like this one was kind of meh for you--I'm still going to check it out, with fingers crossed, but I'm slightly more wary now then i was. Thanks for the honest review as always!

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    1. I think I've had some hit or miss experiences too despite my deep love for witchcraft books (thanks HP!)

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  9. Too bad the romance was just so-so. That makes it really difficult to connect (for me) to the characters if you can't even enjoy them falling in love. Blah romance aside, this one does sound interesting, and since I haven't read a lot about that era, I will have to add it to my TBR!

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    1. I hoped for an amazing romance and just did not feel anything. I can't even understand how people could root for this romance honestly. There are times when I don't like the guy but I get why others swoon and it's not even fathomable to me here.

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  10. Hmmm… the premise of this sounds so great but a blah main character isn't something I can usually tolerate. I'll wait to see what you think of book 2!
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. I would be willing to try it but I won't be seeking it out; this may be a trilogy to just pass over.

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  11. I'd get tired of that - with keep being told why someone can't be with someone else.

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    1. So annoying right? I don't mind so much when someone might die if they get together because that's a big consequence but it's not the case here.

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  12. I've not ever heard of this one, thanks for pointing it out to me! I do like historical fiction and this time period is particularly fascinating. I like that it incorporates witchcraft which is something that people at this time really feared. But It's hard when there are parallel storylines and you don't connect to the main one. Also, I'm a sucker for a strong romance, so one without the sparks, makes me a tad hesitant. However, I'm curious to see what you think about the sequel, and if you really like I may try this afterall.

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    1. That's what intrigued me so too but wow did this not work. On the bright side, the sequel could really blow me away and redeem the series...if I try it.

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  13. I do really like the cover for this book. So pretty. Glad you mostly enjoyed it :) But omg, romance sounds AWFUL. I would not approve, lol. Thank you for sharing your honest review, though. <3
    Thank you for commenting on my blog. <3
    Love, Carina @ Carina's Books

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  14. I love the cover and was hoping you'd rave about this one, convincing me to read it as I love the time frame and have read quite a lot about Elizabeth & Mary in adult historical fiction. Think I'll wait to see what you think of the sequel lol

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    1. I love the sister relationship and hope the second book explores that some but so far, this series is not a winner.

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  15. I'm reading this now and I'm having pretty similar feelings. It just lacks a spark. I think for me a large part of that is Meg (she's very boring and you're right, she's making dumb decisions). I'm also not feeling the romance and it feels like nothing is really happening here. I'm getting the "what is the point of all this?" feeling a lot, which is never a good thing. I think I'll finish it, but I'm not sure how hard I'll try to get my hands on a copy of the sequel. I'll probably wait for your review to see if it's worth seeking out.

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    1. Thank you for agreeing with me! Sometimes I worry I'm just crazy or coming from an odd perspective but she makes some really stupid decisions and I just wanted to yell at her. I think she even knows they're dumb sometimes but she continues to make them.

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