Title: Witch Finder
Author: Ruth Warburton
Source: from publisher for review
Review Summary: This was a fun, light, action-packed adventure but the anticlimactic ending and two-dimensional villain left me wanting something more.
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. (Source)
This book hooked me right away. The first two scenes, where we meet first Luke and then Rose, immediately engaged me in both protagonists lives. These scenes were tense and mysterious and I felt I got to know both characters. The book continued in the same fast-paced way it started. I was so involved I hardly took any notes! However, despite the excitement and adventure, at the end this book fell a little flat for me.
While the world was fascinating (similar to that in Born Wicked), it wasn’t fleshed out very well. For instance, Luke can see witches surrounded by an aura representing their power. That’s interesting and I would have liked to learn something about how it worked. There also weren’t a ton of details given about how the witches’ powers worked. More than that though, my biggest problems were with the villain. He’s basically evil for the sake of being evil and loving power. Oh, and he had a sad childhood. It just wasn’t enough to give him any complexity. Instead we got way more animal cruelty than I thought was necessary to show us that he was a bad person.
The ending was similarly flat. The protagonists never really confront each other about the lies they’ve told one another. They only solve the most immediate of their problems and then decide to go out into the world to face the rest together. It wasn’t even a cliffhanger, where you’re left at the end of some dramatic climax. It was more as though the author just stopped writing. Fortunately, she actually hasn’t stopped writing and there is a second book. Since I did have fun reading this one for most of the book, I’ll actually be quite excited to see if the second book fleshes out the world, the villain, and the main characters’ relationships a bit more. Because really, while it took longer to describe the flaws than the good bits, this certainly was an enjoyable read.