Elizabeth Grey, titular protagonist of The Witch Hunter (2015), returns, having thrown her lot in with the witches she used to persecute.
Elizabeth has taken refuge in Harrow, the witch-friendly territory that resists the rule of Anglia, now controlled by her former boss, the usurper and evil maniac Blackwell, whom Harrow—and Elizabeth—is determined to take out. She’s operating at a disadvantage though, as she has given the magical stigma that protected her to her sweetheart, witch and healer John. But Blackwell seems to want it back, and moreover, John’s formerly saintly affect turns blacker by the day. Can the newly vulnerable Elizabeth complete her mission and restore her sweet John? And what about deposed king Malcolm, Elizabeth’s former abuser? Boecker begins her sequel with virtually no recap, so fans of the first book should do a quick skim to refresh their memories. Once they do, they are in for more of what the first book offered: a grim, first-person, present-tense narrative that seesaws between melodramatic exposition and violent, often confusing action. The rules of magic seem to change as the plot demands, and the equally arbitrary geography is difficult to navigate (readers will be grateful for the map). Witty banter under stress is both unlikely and a pleasant relief, as is the addition of sardonic witch Keagan, operative of a resistance group from neighboring Airann. Though the world is largely white, a couple of dark-skinned characters noted in passing ensure it’s not monolithically so.
Soapy faux–16th-century angst. (Fantasy. 12-16)