Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Burn Mark

Burn Mark by Laura Powell
4/5 stars
Bloomsbury, 2012
405 pages
YA Paranormal

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

I haven't seen very much about this book around the blogosphere, which I would say is good as it allowed me to enter this book with very little preconceived notions, prepared to enjoy myself fully. What I did see left me happy as it seemed like a fun different twist on the witch story.

Basically it's modern times very similar to our world but in this world, witchcraft is very real and threatening. There is an inquisition in place to track down unlicensed and malevolent witches as well as a registry to keep track of confirmed witches. But not all witches are content to live like that with groups of them forming covens that are similar to gangs. Needless to say, suspicions are high and danger lurks around every corner. Witchhood usually starts in the teens or early twenties; the earlier it appears, the more powerful the witch will be. He or she will see a tiny mark appear on the skin.

The story is told mostly through alternating between two characters with additional sections filling in the gaps. One character is Glory, descendant of famous powerful witches, who fully anticipates becoming a witch and a powerful one at that who can lead her coven back to its days of glory. The other is her near opposite: the posh Lucas Stearne whose father is an Inquisitor leading an important prosecution. Both of them receive their marks on the same days and their paths soon intertwine to uncover a great conspiracy that threatens the very stability of the nation.

One of the cool things, for me, was that this book was set in London and its author is British. This meant there was quite a bit of slang that went past me (chav is something I've seen but is most definitely not American slang) as well as descriptions that helped create a distinctly British world. Most of the books I read are set during Regency times so it was also neat to see an alternate contemporary world. This world is fully realized; there are a lot of details packed in to this book and I feel like I can see exactly what Powell envisioned. While sometimes this was overwhelming, I love details so that aspect worked great for me.

Next I actually really liked both of the characters. Oftentimes, I end up preferring one main character vastly more than the other but I could not pick a favorite in this case. I loved Glory's toughness and her strong ambitions while Lucas underwent a stunning transformation in his thinking about witchkind because of his induction into that category. I would have liked a bit more about Lucas' difficult relationship with his father whose career is of more importance than his son but you can't have everything.

Overall: An exciting alternate world is displayed here with lots of possibilities for future stories; I, for one, am along for the ride. Highly enjoyed!

Cover: Kind of reminds me of Divergent actually with the big circle. I do like that it's dark with just the fiery hints but it's not exactly to my taste.


  1. Haha yes, sometimes I find that going into a book without knowing what to expect is better because you don't have everyone else's perceptions clouding you... but other times (like now!), I love knowing what other people think first x) I'm a huge fan of witch books, and I LOVE the idea for this one. At first I thought it would be set during the witch burning times, but the modern and dangerous setting seems so much cooler! :)

    Really awesome review, B! <3

  2. I also love witch books, so I will add this to my list of things to check out!

  3. Oh, and I'll link to this review on my Hot off the Presses. I don't think I've seen a review of this yet...

  4. Love when other countries' slang turns up in books--I get to learn something new AND it's like a puzzle trying to figure out what it really means. I'm pretty sure I have this one on my Kindle (NetGalley, like you) and I'm going to definitely have to read it after that review!

  5. Great review!! I just received this to read from Publisher, so after reading your review I might get stuck into it this weekend:D Chav, not sure what that is?



    1. Hey Michelle! I googled "British slang chav" for more info and read this wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chav.

      Also this definition:
      (slang, often derogatory) typically a nouveau riche or working class person of most of the time lowish intelligence who wears designer label (e.g. Burberry) copies, fake gold bling, and is a trouble-maker. "Chav" is used nationally, though "charv" or "charva" was originally used in the northeast of England, deriving from the Roma (people) word charva, meaning disreputable youth. The closest US equivalents to the chav stereotype are arguably wiggers, although the cultural differences are existent. To a lesser extent "Chotch" (reference sitcom character Charles "Chachi" Arcola), "chinstrap", or simply "douchebag" (wikipedia)


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