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These Witches Don't Burn by Isabel Sterling - Review

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Where did I get it? I bought it for myself. I had it on pre-order and had totally forgotten about it when it arrived! 

What's it about? Hannah lives in Salem, Massachusetts, site of the infamous witch trials, with her mum and dad. She is an Elemental witch, one of the original three witch clans. She can manipulate the elements into doing her magic. The other clans are Casters, who make potions and cast spells, and Blood witches, who use blood from their victim to manipulate them. She has plenty of her coven close by, including her ex girlfriend, Veronica.

It's never fully explained why they split up, except they were in New York City when they met a Blood witch who took over Hannah and scared the both of them. They're both finding it hard to get over the other, but Hannah can't forgive Veronica. 

At the beginning of the book they're at a party when there's a fire. There's an animal sacrifice near by it and Hannah becomes convinced there's a Blood witch in town. A few days later she sees some runes on a wall and her conviction deepens. Her family says there's nothing to worry about, so Hannah tries to put it behind her, but then at another party there's a house fire and Hannah uses her magic to save her friend Benton. This gets her in trouble with her coven but she's desperately trying to find out the truth.

Meanwhile, she has to keep her magic hidden from her best friend Gemma, but Gemma has introduced her to a new girl in town, Morgan, and Hannah discovers she is also queer. 

I struggled to get into this book in the first hundred pages. I thought there was a lot of stuff there that didn't need to be there and which didn't, in fact, get resolved later in the book. I think at least 25 pages could have been cut out. But after that, I got into it and really enjoyed the book. Things keep happening - there's a lot of catastrophes - and Hannah just kind of spins through the book, although there are really sweet episodes where she and Morgan are together, for instance. I hope it's the first in a series - it certainly has that kind of ending and would lend itself to a sequel. I thought the author wrote really well and I'll certainly look out for something else by her. 

What age range is it for? 14+ 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Yes. Hannah is gay and already out at the beginning of the book. Morgan is bisexual and although Hannah reacts badly to this when she finds out, I loved how she apologised and I am always here for more bisexual representation in books. 

Are any main characters people of colour? I don't think so?

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Not exactly. There are some accidents and subsequent trauma, though. 

Is there any sex stuff? No. I would have liked it if there was! 

Are drugs mentioned or used? I don't think so. 

Is there any talk of death? Yes, and some of it is graphic and may be upsetting. 

Are there swear words? No 

What criticisms do I have? As I said, I thought the book was slow to get going. I also would have liked to see exactly what happened to Hannah in New York and why she couldn't forgive Veronica, because I don't think it was clear enough. 

Would I recommend the book? Yes absolutely, it's great. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? It had just arrived and I'm loving this resurgence of witch based books. 

What do I think of the cover? I like it, I think it's really cute and would make me pick the book up. 

What other books is it like? It's definitely like Undead Girl Gang which I read recently. I thought they were both really good. 

How many stars? Four out of five 

Where is the book going now? I actually lent it to my friend Sarah! I'll have to see what she thinks about it. 

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