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NIGHT OF THE WITCH

From the Witch and Hunter series , Vol. 1

A promising introduction to a witchy new series.

The destinies of a witch and a witch hunter become entangled against the backdrop of 16th-century witch trials.

It’s 1591 in Trier, part of the Holy Roman Empire, and the increasingly brutal persecution of witches has led to the destruction of Fritzi’s coven and the murders of her family members. The only other survivor is her cousin Liesel, a younger witch with a unique power who is taken by the hunters’ kommandant as part of a perverse plan. Determined to rescue Liesel, Fritzi follows a path that collides with that of Otto, an up-and-coming captain of the hexenjägers, or witch hunters. Otto has a secret: He is working from the inside to bring down an institution he despises for very personal reasons. As Fritzi and Otto learn to trust each other while venturing deep into the Black Forest, they unveil bigger truths about magic and witches (and the goddesses they worship). Romance, magic, and fantasy intertwine with the real history of Trier’s witch trials as the worldbuilding juxtaposes paganism and Christianity in a story that explores belief, fate, power, accountability, and revenge. The story grows from the initial, slow-moving setup, becoming a more complex, evolving, dual-perspective tale. While the overly fast romantic bond between Otto and Fritzi feels unearned, and the villain’s nefarious plan is a bit cartoonish, overall, the story engages and entertains.

A promising introduction to a witchy new series. (content warnings, historical note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781728272160

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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