The Book That Wasn't What I Had Been Expecting - The Witch Hunter (ARC review)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Paper Bindings - The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Title: The Witch Hunter (The Witch Hunter #1)
Author: Virginia Boecker
Release Date: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: Little Brown
“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.”

RELATED: The King Slayer

*Received a copy for an honest review.*

My Review

Somehow or another I came across this author on twitter. Don't ask me how, but I found a post of her mentioning The Witch Hunter. Naturally, the title made it sound like my kind of book, so I had to check it out. Social media really is a wonderful thing for book recommendations. When I saw this book on NetGalley, I knew it was a sign.

The heroine of the novel was a young orphan named Elizabeth. Elizabeth was a witch hunter, an person who was charged with routing out these dangerous individuals in a time where magic nearly destroyed the world. She used to be good at her job, until things started to change for her. Then, when she was caught in a risky situation, Lord Blackwell decided to make an example of her. Only the witches themselves, led by Nicholas Perevil, believe her to be necessary for a certain goal of theirs and they stage a rescue attempt.

"Not all Reformists are wizards, but all Reformists seek the same end: to reform the antimagic laws, to abolish The Thirteenth Tablet, to end the burnings." (6%)

Elizabeth was an interesting girl. Her parents were killed when she was younger, and she grew up in a dangerous world. It's made very clear early on the threats she faced come in all designs. Yet the girl does not quit. Her focus may not be one hundred percent on the task at hand, capturing witches, and she may allow her unrequited love for her fellow hunter to push her into making stupid choices, but when you look deeper you cannot help but see the girl who was desperate to be loved and wanted.

Yet, for someone who went through as much as she had, even before the story opened, she was a bit too trusting at times. Still, I think the author did a nice job showing her struggle to accept what she "knew" with what she experienced for herself.

If you've seen my goodreads updates for this book, you'll know I posted "If I ever have to be rescued against my will by my supposed enemy.....I hope it's by a group that makes me laugh half as much as this. *eats popcorn* this is better than TV."

And at the end of the book, that was still true. I really loved the dynamics of the group. It wasn't just meeting a group of characters who represent different tropes and pilling them all up together. No, it really felt like this cohesive group already existed and and I enjoyed the chemistry between them all. They were all fully developed and unique characters. Getting to know them was fun, and a certain swoonworthy healer attempted to steal my heart. 

I won't say anything more about them because I really think you should be like Elizabeth and discover this group the way she does, by being tossed at them full speed. Really, was there any other way to enjoy George's antics?  

One of my favorite things about this book was actually summed up nicely by something Fifer said towards the end.
"Nicholas says that magic isn't inherently good or bad, it's what people do with it that makes it that way. It took me a long time to understand that. Once I did, I realized it isn't magic that separates us from them, or you from me. It's misunderstanding." (74%)
Between that and:
"Magic isn't something you can just stop. It's who you are. You're born with it or you aren't. You can make the most of it, as I do, as Fifer does, or you can ignore it. But you can't make it go away." (John 30%)
This book really made you think about right and wrong, about how there are two sides to every story, and about acceptance. It is a very powerful message that was woven into the story line, without making a fuss over itself and detracting from the plot.

The romance in the novel was cute. 

I won't lie, when I first met Caleb who was obviously not the "all too handsome healer" the blurb mentioned, I was kind of in a panic. Right away, I could tell he was kind of a jerk AND she had feelings for him. My fear of a love triangle with him nearly sent me into a panic. 

Thankfully, Sarah (from The YA Book Traveler) had me all but convinced I was going to the steal this mysterious John from the pages of the book. All would be well.

He made me smirk from the first time he geeked out over healing. It was love the first time I laughed. 

They were super cute together. It was a lot of learning about one another's backgrounds, breaking your preconceived notions, and about finding yourself as much as it was about two people falling for each other. 

Words To Live By

"'You don't look like a fool.' (Elizabeth)
'I should hope not. I'm a fool by occupation, not presentation. And occasionally by reputation.'" (George 10%)
"...If we ever got caught, tell the truth, as much as doesn't condemn you. The less you lie, the less chance there is of confusing your story. Not that it mattered anyway. He also told us that i we ever got caught, we were on our own." (28%)
"It goes against everything I've ever know, a betrayal of everything I've ever been taught. But who betrayed who first?" (54%)


From the reaction I have seen around the blogosphere, I think this is one of those books you're going to love or you're going to dislike. From what I can tell it stems to how well you connect with the characters. I thought The Witch Hunter was a fun, quick read, the really made you think as the pages turned. So I do recommend this book. Give it a try, maybe you'll fall in love with the characters as much as I did.


  1. Great review! Yes you're right about the theme, it's all about choices. I'm glad John stole your heart, I can't wait for more!

    1. I thought this book was a standalone, but as I kept reading I realized there was no way that it would wrap everything up nicely. I wasn't expecting a series, but I think it could be a fun one. I really cannot wait so see what happens next either.

      And John! *adds him to her collection of book boyfriends*

      Thank you for stopping by.


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