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The Book and its Author
Modern witchcraft blends with ancient Celtic mythology in an epic clash of witches and gods, perfect for fans of V.E. Schwab's Shades of Magic trilogy andA DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer's motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don't stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that's impossible to put down.
E. Latimer is a fantasy writer from Victoria, BC. Her middle grade novel, The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray, was published by Tundra Books, and was recently nominated for the Red Maple Fiction Award.
In her spare time, she writes books, makes silly vlogs with the Word Nerds about writing, and reads excessively.
Her latest novel, Witches of Ash and Ruin, will be released Spring/Summer 2020 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Magic and murder collide in this contemporary fantasy novel that remains true to its bloody premise. Admittedly, I was skeptical at first, but I was hooked by the end. I was most pulled in by the plot—Dayna and Meiner’s quest to stop the Butcher, interspersed with magic and rituals, and the occasional shocking chapter from the perspective of the Butcher himself. The lesson here is that everyone has a story, even those who dabble in darkness.
Romance fans don’t have to stay away, though. Witches of Ash and Ruin also features a budding relationship between Dayna and Meiner, who start off as semi-rivals but grow to understand each other better over the course of the story. I love enemies-to-lovers plot lines, and this is no exception. The bond between the rest of Dayna’s coven was also lovely, and provided relief from her ultra-religious father, a priest who despises witchcraft. The spirit of sisterhood and family is strong in this novel, and I appreciated the mother-hen tendencies of Reagan, Dayna’s best friend, Yemi, her mom, and Bronagh, a grandmotherly woman who leads the witches.
Around 50% through, I found that I couldn’t put the book down. Several confrontation scenes moved at a fast pace as Dayna unraveled the mystery of the Butcher and came into her full powers as a witch. This was when everything began to feel more real to me, and the characters seemed to rise off the page. Any plot-focused reader will surely engage with the care taken to fully realize every plot thread, and character-focused readers will love the novel for the friendships and subtleties that appear throughout.
My only complaint is that I would have liked more world-building. The mythology wasn’t fully explained, and I like to explore the ways different books include the same deities and symbols. The spells and charms in Witches of Ash and Ruin were Celtic in origin, but I would appreciate more clarity on what each of them meant.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this novel. It was a great distraction from the outside world, and I fell easily into the murder mystery and the magical entities that played in this mystical version of Ireland.
Hey, I'm Shreya! I love to read, write, travel, and drink coffee.
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