Book Review – These Witches Don’t Burn

This book is like stepping away from the high fantasy I’ve been rolling around in – but not entirely. There’s magic in abundance, lesbian romance and all the normal teenage drama on top of it. Perfect.

Hannah is an Elemental Witch, meaning she and her coven draw power from the four elements. What the rest of her coven don’t know – and especially not her grandmother, their high priestess – is that Hannah and her recent ex girlfriend Veronica had a run in with a Blood Witch recently which all went horribly, horribly wrong. So when things start to go wrong again, Hannah is convinced it’s the work of the Blood Witch they got on the wrong side of, here to finish the job. Her grandmother is less convinced, and that means that the only way Hannah is going to get to the bottom of this is by teaming up with the last person she wants to spend time with – Veronica. None of this is helped by the new crush in Hannah’s life, and of course, she can’t even tell her best friend she’s a witch, pushing her more towards Veronica than ever.

I came across this book mentioned as a sapphic recommendation via Twitter, and it seemed like a great midway point between reality and the fantasy books I’ve been hiding in lately. As with Rivers of London this kind of magic still has its roots in the real world, covering everything from ballet shoes to text messages – just with a slice of magic on the side. It reminded me very much of a series I read in my teens, as I mentioned on WWW Wednesday. Wicca, or Sweep if you were in the US, followed a young woman discovering she was a blood witch (different meaning to this book’s use of the term), and her adventures into magick. There was even a magical supplies shop to get lost in during that series too. I reread the first few books earlier this year, and it was nice to be reminded of them again.

I had a lot of empathy for Hannah as a character, trying to solve mysteries while trying to mend her heart at the same time. Their past romance is a key factor in the story, and I have forever inhabited the well known space that is known as The Awkward Gay sphere throughout my life, relating far too hard, although you don’t have to be gay to remember the inescapable awkwardness of trying to function around a new ex as a teenager – or in your twenties. Probably your thirties too.

The story itself was strong, with twists I didn’t see coming and sufficient universe building so that the sequal (and hopefully more of those to come!) falls naturally into place. More than enough happens to fill one book, but there is also enough happening that it will need more than one book for the characters to full adapt to what occurs. This is great, as it means we’re going to get to see further character development in This Coven Won’t Break, moving onwards from everything that we experience through Hannah.

It was an easy book to get lost in, and I devoured it in the space of twenty four hours. I can’t wait to read book two!

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