Book Reviews

Review: Island Witch by Amanda Jayatissa

Island Witch blends horror, historical fiction, and fantasy all at once. It is an intriguing book taking place at a crossroads for a family, for a community, and our main character. Keep reading this book review of Island Witch for my full thoughts.


Being the daughter of the village Capuwa, or demon-priest, Amara is used to keeping mostly to herself. Influenced by the new religious practices brought in by the British Colonizers, the villagers who once respected her father’s craft have turned on the family. Yet, they all still seem to call on him whenever supernatural disturbances arise.

Now someone—or something —is viciously seizing upon men in the jungle. But instead of enlisting Amara’s father’s help, the villages have accused him of carrying out the attacks himself.

As she tries to clear her father’s name, Amara finds herself haunted by dreams that eerily predict the dark forces on her island. And she can’t shake the feeling that it’s all connected to the night she was recovering from a strange illness, and woke up, scared and confused, to hear her mother’s frantic No one can find out what happened .


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

What I enjoyed most about Island Witch was how it examines a changing community. The impacts of colonialism and the intersections of belief and witchcraft. At the same time it also examines female rage, revenge, and the ways fear is drilled into women. The idea of sin, religion, and guilt all merging with ‘Christianity’ and colonialism. With these ideas swirling around, for Amara where will she stand? For me, the pacing was a bit stop and start. I’d get intrigued in the supernatural and then I feel like would slow a bit.

Island Witch is one of those books where I’d think about the themes after reading, but I was never absorbed enough to have trouble putting it down. Does that make sense? There’s this slow unraveling to the investigation combined with a slow build up for the supernatural. But together it made the book creep along. Throughout there’s an unreliability which I enjoyed, but due to the three combined, it just felt a bit disjointed at times.

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Overall, I enjoyed Island Witch especially the themes, but it takes a while for the gears to start turning until it felt like the story got a handle on itself. Find Island Witch on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


What is your favorite story which blends colonialism and the supernatural?

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