These Witches Don’t Burn | book review

These Witches Don’t Burn

Author: Isabel Sterling
Series: These Witches Don’t Burn, #1
Format: Hardback
Page Count: 336
Publisher: Razorbill
Original Publication Date: 2019
Genre(s): Young adult, Fantasy, LGBT

Salem, Massachusetts is historically known for its witch trials. But that was before Hannah’s time. She and her parents are Elemental witches, and belong to a coven made up of 12 families in Salem present day. Unfortunately, one of those families includes Veronica, Hannah’s witchy ex. But when cute dancer Morgan moves to Salem and shows interest in Hannah, things start looking up…until strange things start occurring around Hannah, dangerous things, and her worst fears become a possibility: there might be a Blood Witch in Salem. And they are definitely after her.

These Witches Don’t Burn is a YA fantasy novel told in first-person POV. It follows Hannah the teen witch during a dangerous time in Salem: someone (or something) is after her and her coven. At first, I wasn’t sure I would be able to get into the story. Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE the idea of a gay witch MC, and the plot sounded both fun and interesting, but it started off a bit too slow and teenager-y for me. Now, I know what you’re going to say: Alyssa, it’s YA, it’s going to be teenager-y. I know that. I read a lot of YA. But it just felt a little…forced. Like trying too hard to sound adolescent.

Luckily, not only does the plot pick up, but also that try-too-hard feeling does go away. Maybe it was the writing, maybe it was the way the story opened, or maybe it was just me. Regardless, I really got sucked into this one about halfway through. At first it was just about Hannah trying to conceal her witchy life from her “Reg” (non-witch) classmates and also trying to get over her ex, but then it changed into a darker, more dangerous story. It actually becomes quite thrilling! And sad.

Perhaps my biggest letdown: I almost immediately figured out who was after Hannah’s coven. The “bag guy,” if you will. It felt very obvious to me, but hopefully that’s not the case for everyone and you can still enjoy that bit of mystery in the book.

Character-wise, I can’t say I was a huge fan of anyone, really. Hannah, our MC, is not my favorite narrator. While I thought she was okay and sympathized with her, she just wasn’t someone I connected with. Veronica wasn’t great, either. She was really hypocritical and a liar and way too forceful with her lips, even when a character protests multiple times. Regardless, I still enjoyed reading the book despite my inability to connect with the characters. I will say, though, that this book had great LGBT representation. We had lesbian characters, bi characters, and even trans characters. It was nice to see so much representation for the community all in one book. Let’s hope book 2 continues that trend, and maybe adds a little POC representation, too?..

I really wasn’t sure I was going to continue the series when I first started reading the book, but having finished now, I think I will! Book 2 comes out this summer, and you better believe I’ll be trying to snatch it up quick!

Anyone else perpetually disappointed they’re not a witch?..

My Rating

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