by Ruth Warburton
Plot Summary: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.
Review:This book was very easy to immerse oneself into. The descriptions of London, the characters, and the way witchcraft is depicted made for an interesting blend of historical drama, fantasy and suspense. The dilemma Luke finds himself in - with his mission to kill a witch who is definitely not as evil as the Malleus think all witches are - was so gripping, and I couldn't wait to find out how he would find a way out of it. It was difficult at times to read though because since I know Luke is a good person his attempts to fulfill his mission were really disturbing to me. Especially when in one instance there is a very sad consequence. I wanted to keep liking him and fortunately the author was able to bring his character around.
Rosa Greenwood was another great character to get to know. I feel like she has a lot of potential because while she is very kind and sadly beset by her family's expectations, that spark in her gradually came out and I am sure she will continue to grow into a stronger character in the next book. I was looking forward to seeing her take more of an active role in freeing herself from her situation in this book, but her growth is slow and it is important that Luke is the one who helps her the most. Their romance was very sweet though building in a way that does play more on mutual attraction than an intellectual connection but it is understandable that since Rosa is unused to kindness she would form a strong attachment to Luke.
The main villains in this book were really striking I thought - especially because I was not quite sure about one character and what part they had to play in the story. The mystery of what that character was up to was gradually worked in and it was surprising and fantastic the twists and turns the story took near the end. There are many aspects of this story that are intriguing and will be great to learn more about (Luke and Sebastian's backstory for instance) and although I found the ending of this book pretty satisfactory, I look forward to more exploration of the world and characters when book 2 comes out later this year.
(I received this book from the publisher or author for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review.)