Witch Hunter Trilogy Review
Updated: Nov 24, 2020
Welcome back, witches! Today I'm bringing you my first book review on this blog! *Insert fanfare here* Before we get into it, I should let you know that I did receive a free ebook from the author, but that did not affect my review. You should also know this is not a spoiler-free zone, so proceed with caution! If you're here for the tea, grab your mug and let's get to it!
Genre: Adult Paranormal Fiction
Category: Spooky Read
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Rating: 1/5 Stars
The Witch Hunter trilogy by K. S. Marsden follows Hunter, a seventh-gen witch hunter and member of the Malleus Maleficarum Council (MMC), which is an age-old secret society of witch hunters. The Shadow Witch, the greatest threat in a millennia, has emerged, and the council must eliminate this threat. Their battles span continents and years, causing world-wide chaos. Unfortunately, this book was less exciting than it sounded.
My first impression was that this work was not heavily edited or revised and needed some serious work. It should not have been published as is. It contained countless issues in grammar and format; problematic portrayals of multilinguals, Wiccans, and the spiritual community in general; contradictions in character logic and believability; and a general lack of conflict and excitement. While I will say Marsden had a few really cool ideas, this work is poorly executed and only meets a fraction of its potential—especially considering there are moments that are more fleshed out and on a higher level.
There are numerous grammar errors throughout, including spelling and punctuation, improper use of commas, strange paragraph breaks, several run-on and fragmented sentences, improper capitalization, a character name that shifts spelling, and clunky and repetitive wording. Sentences like, “…the fire sped with unnatural speed…” and “…repeated everything he told Brian. Told her everything.” were common. I hoped since the first book was published in 2013, there might be improvement with each installment, but I was disappointed. In fact, the grammar and formatting errors picked up in the latter half of the third book.
Unfortunately, most of the writing is all tell and no show, making it hard to visualize anything or anyone. There were a few times I had to reread to figure out when a person reentered the room or which “she” was the one moving.
There are a few issues with time lapses. Often, it was a simple failure to indicate that time or POV had changed. At one point, the narrator says their "next stop was..." when the day ended at the close of the previous paragraph.
POOR DEPICTIONS OF OTHER CULTURES/RACES
Several characters in the series are multilingual, and while this could have been awesome, it was done a bit lazily. Many times, the only non-English phrases a character would use in a bilingual conversation were easy, basic ones like “good morning” or “panico." Furthermore, I find it hard to believe that a person who speaks relatively good English would stumble over the word “disorienting” and instead say "disorientante." THEY’RE PRONOUNCED ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME!
Then there were the more off-putting aspects of the story: the clichéd depiction of witches as "all black-hearted, evil" Satan worshipers who regularly practice ritualistic sacrifice. Wiccans are described as “a laughed-at, semi-religious sect” that "treated magick as a religion [. . .] mostly bored housewives and teens that wore too much black." These views are shared by the main character and all of his kind. Per the witches, Wiccans are "grasping, leeching creatures" who "dared to use magic that did not belong to them" and are hardly worth keeping as servants. People who practice divination are "harmless, normal people that play with the idea of using magic." [Note that the author also jumps between spellings of the word "magick/magic."]
While I understand this is a work of fiction, there are lines when it comes to the depiction of faiths and their histories. Promoting untruths and problematic stereotypes is not cool, nor is taking a big crap on them. I do not believe real-world Wiccans would appreciate how they are painted in this book, or having Hallowe’en referred to as “a random festival.” While this could have been a great way to lend character growth to the story, I’ll explain why it failed (for me) later.
From the very beginning, there are issues with believablility. At one point, Hunter reflects on his partner encouraging him to go around unarmed on his vacation. Why would a witch hunter encourage another to NOT carry a weapon if the witch threat is so prevalent and omnipresent? ESPECIALLY considering the main character was recently almost K.I.A.?
Soon after Hunter saves her from being sacrificed by witches, Sophie shows up at Hunter’s door wanting to join the MMC. He begins to argue, but she has learned everything she needs to know about this secret society on Google. Google, dammit! *eyeroll* So he takes her through his mansion, showing off his family’s stash of witch-hunting booty dating generations back, then gives her a powerful amulet and sets her up training with his old mentor, who is one of the greats. Hunter is overly forthcoming and puts up almost zero resistance despite earlier protestations of how dangerous it is, which is both out of character and lazy story progression.
Pretty much every female character has the same backstory: they were saved by witch hunters from becoming a witch sacrifice. Or they were a product of their passion from being saved. It's repetitive and lazy writing.
In book two, Hunter’s mom is upset he didn't contact her for months, apparently oblivious that he'd been nearly killed and was bedridden, recovering under the same roof while the MMC took over her home. As if someone wouldn’t have told her or she couldn’t have easily found out if she cared so much. Later, when she meets her grandson (by Hunter and Sophie), she has no issue with his parentage in spite of not liking Sophie in previous books and having her house overrun because of Sophie.
Despite “making” witches as his “representatives on Earth," the Devil (who never shows up in the story) decides to help the witch hunters defeat the witches he feels neglected by.
When taken over by the power of the Shadow Witch, a character decides to end her life rather than lose herself and subject the world to the horrors of it. Even though Hunter's grandfather loved this woman throughout and she sacrificed herself with a request to let everyone know the truth so they can be safe in the future, he allows everyone to believe he killed her and refuses to talk about it. He lets the power's mystery die with him, until it is recovered. I just don't see why he wouldn't have told anyone or why he allowed the witch hunters to retain their beliefs about witches.
LACK OF CONFLICT
Hunter’s views on witches and Wiccans remains unshaken until nearly the end—despite several opportunities to confront his thinking beforehand, including finding out his lover is a witch and siring a son with her, seeing the way his son is treated by people who assume his nature, befriending Wiccans, being saved by witches and Wiccans, developing his own powers, the MMC using items imbued with magic against witches, and spending nearly two years with an ancient group of monks who have their own abilities. It isn’t until someone casually mentions that the military tags Hunter has been wearing the whole series belonged to his grandfather and were blessed by a witch to protect him that Hunter begins to wonder if he and the MMC might have extreme views.
Of course, there's no time to see Hunter grapple with this as he immediately rejects it, storms out, and ends up exactly where he needs to be to [too] easily stumble upon the evidence of the transaction: his grandfather’s journal, missing and sought for years, hidden in the wall behind his portrait. Almost everything falls into Hunter’s lap like this, from everyone going along with what he wants with little to no push-back, to the weapon he needs to defeat the Shadow Witch being hand-delivered by surprise.
In the end, Hunter saves the world at a great cost. While the ending is fairly satisfactory, the final confrontation lasts only a few pages and goes completely according to plan, which leaves you wanting yet glad it’s over.
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