Title: These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1)
Author: Isabel Sterling
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Edition/Pages: Hardcover, 320 pages
This follows Hannah who is an elemental witch living in Salem, Massachusetts. It’s the summer before her senior year of high school and her biggest concerns are saying goodbye to friends and avoiding her ex, Veronica – who is also an elemental witch, at all costs. But at the end of the year bonfire, Hannah and Veronica stumble upon a blood ritual and they immediately suspect a blood witch is in Salem for the first time in decades.
When more dark and dangerous things start to happen, Hannah and Veronica fear they, and everyone else in their coven, is in danger.
I want to preference this by saying while this book did not work for me, I appear to be in the minority. So definitely do not let my rating deter you away from picking this up.
Overall, this just wasn’t the book I was expecting to read. I was expecting a lighthearted, fun, witchy standalone and instead I got a series with half the book feeling lighthearted and half really dark and heavy. It took me aback and really hindered my enjoyment.
➸ POV – 1st person from Hannah’s POV
➸ Hannah Walsh: 17, High school junior, Works at Fly by Night Cauldron, Elemental witch
➸ Veronica Matthews: 18, Ex-girlfriend, Elemental witch, Recent graduate
➸ Gemma Goodwin: 17, “Reg”, Hannah’s best friend
➸ Content Warnings: Animal cruelty, Underage drinking, violence, blood/gore, arson, death of a parent, grief, panic attacks
What I Liked
➸ This book was filled to the brim with representation. There were queer characters, trans characters, discussions about bisexuality, etc. And I was here for it. Sprinkled throughout the book were also subtle mentions or descriptions of underrepresented demographics that really highlighted the normalcy of a diverse world.
➸ The romance in this was so sweet and well written. These characters are young and their interactions and relationships felt true to their age. I was definitely rooting for them throughout the entire story.
➸ YA books need more friendships like Gemma and Hannah’s. There is a scene where Gemma defends Hannah to her parents that had me cheering. Their friendship was so strong and I’m always here for women supporting women.
What I Didn’t Like
➸ This unfortunately contained one of my biggest YA pet peeves – teenage main characters who think they know more and can do better than all the adults. Hannah makes bad decision after bad decision and then complains about how no adults know what they’re doing so she needs to take things into her own hands. No you don’t, you’re 17, sit down. It was very frustrating to read about – nonetheless 3 or 4 times.
➸ Some of the reveals were quite predictable. To the point where I became frustrated with the characters for not coming to the conclusion quicker. I don’t want to go into spoilers but this applies not only to the major reveals but small ones. I thought the relationship between 2 characters had been established and when they are “discovered” the main character’s reaction made no sense to me.
➸ But overall – this story was just NOTHING like what I was expecting. This cover and synopsis led me to believe I was in for a fun, witchy YA read. But this story goes quite dark. And while I have no qualms with that in theory, it was an extremely jarring change at the half way point. I know cutesy, illustrated covers are in right now, and synopses need to be vague. But I felt very misled by the last page.
Also a note! This is not a standalone and does end with minimal closure and lots of loose ends.
Unfortunately this book just didn’t work for me. I didn’t love the writing (which came across quite young but then again I’m not the intended audience) and the story was not at all what I was expecting. While the ending left many unanswered questions, I honestly don’t care enough about the plot or characters to continue on with this series.