Author: Ruth Warburton
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Publication Date: January 2, 2014
*Received ARC from publisher via NetGalley
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.
I enjoyed this book, it was a fun, fast-paced read about a guy whose mother and father were killed by a witch and so he hates witches and has vowed revenge. The book starts off with Luke being initiated into a group that kills witches and his last test is to kill Rosa, a sixteen-year-old witch. He becomes a stable hand where Rosa lives and then struggles with how nice and normal Rosa seems to be compared to what he has always believed about witches. He still keeps trying to kill her, though, which was unexpected.
There are definitely some evil witches in this book, and Rosa's family is just awful. I really felt for her situation. Even though she's fairly powerful as a witch (although we never see that power, which was disappointing) her choices are very limited as far as what she can do. Basically, she needs to marry for money because after her father died her family is running out of money. And of course the guy who her family is pushing her into marrying is evil (although he does have some complexity to him, showing a softer side occasionally).
I liked the historical aspect of it and the different issues that were brought up (women's rights, child labor, physical abuse, etc.). I liked learning about the different groups (the witches and the witch hunters) but I wish we would have learned a bit more. I also liked the differences between Luke and Rosa. Different stations, which would be difficult enough to overcome, and then on top of that, you have Rosa being a witch and Luke being a normal guy (although there is definitely more to him and I'm interested to see how his talent plays out in future books along with the why of what happened to his parents). Luke does fall for Rosa pretty fast, which was not necessary because it would have worked with him realizing that the world is not so black and white when it comes to witches and that Rosa is just a good person. But it didn't bother me that much. The ending was rather abrupt, but I like that it was not a cliffhanger. There is still a lot of story to tell, and I'll definitely be reading the next one.
Posted by: Pam