by Ruth Warburton
Published January 2nd 2014
by Hodder Children's Books
ARC from Netgalley
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London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.
Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.
I quite enjoyed Ruth Warburton's earlier witch series; Winter Trilogy where the Malleus Maleficorum was first mentioned. They were described as a fearsome brotherhood in pursuit of witches. Initially, I really had something like this in mind.
But the truth is they were just a group of men consists of blacksmiths, farmers and butchers who decided to go against the powerful witches who secretly controlled the government. And their nemesis is the powerful Eadwiltan which consists of the most powerful and richest witches in the country.
The main problem with this book is that the two main characters did not appeal to me in any way. I know it's supposed to be a historical setting but nothing big really happened halfway throughout the story. Luke Lexton; the Brotherhood wannabe had to disguised himself as a stable boy in order to infiltrate the Greenwoods' household to kill the young Miss Rosamund Greenwood. All of this could really be exciting but Luke is such a bumbling witch hunter who failed several times in his ridiculous attempt in killing the girl. His only unique trait is the fact that he can see magical auras of the witches which apparently differentiate them from normal people. But, one minute he's so hateful and full of vengeance towards all of the magical clan for murdering his parents and the next he's melting with lust over the red-headed girl. Make up your mind already!
And the witch in question? Rosa Greenwood is so dull and has zero personality. She was supposed to be kind and considerate towards servants and non-magical people but her powers are so wasted in worrying herself to death on whether to let her mother and useless brother marry her off to a rich young noble (with noble magical blood-of course) to save their debt-ridden household. And believe me..after reading too much historical fiction for my own good, this personal social dilemma arc is so predictable and yawn-inducing to say the least. And I just hated the fact that she let herself to be a victim of domestic violence even before she marry the damn guy. Seriously, grow a spine, please.
And the romance? I failed to see any chemistry between these two and was wondering when exactly that they fell in love with each other? Maybe it was more like pity or sympathy and not real attraction. How can you actually fall in love with someone who repeatedly tried to kill you? I just don't get it. I'm sorry to say the book is just not for me. Normally I just love books about witches and I still do adore the Winter Trilogy by this author but this one is just so disappointing.