The Black Witch


Are There Lesbians?

What Happens?
Elloren is the granddaughter of the powerful Black Witch so everyone expects great things from her. Unfortunately, in a society that values magic over everything else, she has none.

The Verdict:
I didn’t start reading this in order to tear it to pieces. I read it because I’d seen people make snaps judgements about a book based on a review rather than reading the damn thing themselves. Unfortunately here we are and I can’t get the hours of my life back I spent reading The Black Witch. Boy I wish I could. I can see where the author was going with this, and I think that with some editing it could be a thoughtful discussion of prejudices and how hard it is to overcome them, especially when raised in an insular society. The emphasis here is on the phrase “with some editing” because seriously I’m not convinced this book was actually edited. Sentence structure is often confusing, and characters have… well no character. Pretty much the only thing I enjoyed about this book was the world-building, it seemed like the only part of the novel with an actual research put into it. Unfortunately that’s not even remotely enough to hold up over 270 pages of novel (that’s about where I stopped, I don’t know how many more pages there are and I’m afraid to check.)

ANYWAY below the cut is a blow-by-blow of what I was thinking as I read. Some of them don’t have page numbers because I took screenshots and then forgot what page they were on (^▽^”)

  • Where are you Sage? I wonder unhappily. She’s been gone without a trace for well over a year. What could have possibly happened to you?
    • Whatever happened to “show don’t tell”?! The whole page this was on was a disaster
  • It’s like a poor man’s Wicked, without the social commentary or good writing, also this world is like the inverse of the Black Jewels in that the men have all the magic instead of the women and also Black Jewels was well written.
  • It’s not til the beginning of ch.3 that we find out where the superiority complex comes from – first hint of irony “at least that’s what our holy book… tells us” p.31
  • Elloren continues to refer to the Selkie as “her” rather than “it” despite what her aunt says, which is nice but also the baseline. Unfortunately she also doesn’t question the Selkie’s designation as an animal, considers her as one would a puppy… “My brothers would agree. They’re staunchly against the abuse of animals” p.54
  • Elloren doesn’t question anything but then, when one is raised in a relatively insular society you don’t question. Things are what they are and there is no other option. It’s not until said other options are presented that you realise they were there all along.
    • She’s still annoying tho
  • “A starlit sky overhead, we arrive, the carriage pulling up before Aunt Vyvian’s three-story home, arching windows lit golden and an expansive, dark wooden staircase spilling towards us in welcome.”
  • “You don’t have to know anything, dear… I’ve taken you under my wing. And that’s the best place to be. Simply sit back, enjoy it and follow my lead.” Pp.64-5 – Aunt Vyvian.
    • Elloren doesn’t seem all that interested in knowing outside the expected spheres however. It’s all well and good to not know certain ideas etc, but there is no desire to learn outside her immediate realm of interest ie. apothecary
  • The girls characterisation is painfully 2D. It’s uncomfortable and makes me hate them… if I consider them at all, I want to skip their entire first conversation
    • They’re only here for exposition
  • “‘I know how much you have suffered, Kam.’ The sorceress’s face flinches. ‘No. You do not.’”
    • This is good! I like this attitude. But still… that it’s so noticeable really says something about this book :/
  • There’s just some weird phrasing – start of part two reads like a tense change (it’s not but I had to read it twice)
  • “This Yvan Guriel doesn’t even know me, I lament, glaring resentfully at him out of the corner of my eye. He has no right to be so hateful.”
    • But it’s fine for her to hate/fear people she doesn’t know. Honestly, White People.
  • Do you have to add Yvan’s race like its a prefix every time he’s mentioned in ch.3? We get it! He’s a Kelt! You don’t need to keep mentioning it.
  • So much is happening in this book and it gets in the way of actual character development – first a ball now a tournament. Not to mention a university  welcoming assembly and various attacks which don’t do anything but solidify Elloren’s (and, maybe it’s supposed to solidify ours too?) hatred against the Icarals who have every right to hate her.
  • Feels like the Gardnerians are increasingly Jewish coded – lost people reclaiming the land of their holy book, priests wear black, and they have dark often curly hair. Apparently there is something later on about how the backstory they’ve been told isn’t actually true, so this line of thinking may all fall apart with that… but I didn’t get that far…
  • Does this girl not know snitches get stitches? Why she gotta run to everyone for help. Do your own damn dirty work, I don’t care how weak you think you are
  • “Translucent black lines curl out from the wand tip, fluidly making their way toward me.
    I gasp as they flow and curl around my body. At first I feel a gentle pressure from the, tickling at my skin, teasing.
    And then they tighten.
    It’s impossible to resist as the swirling lines pull at my waist, my arms, my legs. I find it both exciting and disconcerting to be so much in his power. My feet skid over the grassy ground as he pulls me closer, until I’m right before him. Once there, he flicks his wrist, and the black lines dissolve as he languidly wraps his arms around me”

    • Creepy yeah, but I’ve read worse and Beautiful Disaster has 4 stars on Goodreads so…
  • She doesn’t even try to be nice, or anything other than hateful and disparaging (or a bystander) but expects everyone to be on their best behaviour towards her
  • “The chalky smell of minerals, as well as the acrid tang of Bornial flint, hang in the air, but it’s freshened by the cool, clean scent of Spine-stone, and I breathe it all in without reserve” p.241
  • There is so much extraneous, unnecessary description here its exhausting – and I’ve slogged through Cecilia Dart-Thornton’s incorrigible listing so you know it’s bad
  • Elloren is just so boring at this point she’s all “I’m so weak why does no one like me” like bitch you don’t even try
  • Wow everything Fyon the Snake Elf says is almost word for word Snape. And here I was thinking that at least she’d done a bit of research with race names (alfsigr being one)
  • EVERY. FRIKKEN. TIME “I felt bad but then I remember one of the was mean to me once” jesus christ get over yourself
  • I got to chapter 17 p.274 before I decided enough was enough and life is too short
  • Never mind I just accidentally read the next page “Lukas’s hot kisses” SERIOUSLY? I can’t believe I just read that with my own two eyes. I’m out.

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