You yell witches, I will immediately start running. Add in that they’re queer and it’s an almost insta-buy for me. That’s all I knew about Witches of Ash and Ruin and those were definitely my favorite parts. Keep reading to see what my other thoughts were in my book review of Witches of Ash and Ruin!
Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.
And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: Panic attacks, OCD, homophobia, anxiety, child abuse, self harm, mentions of rape
I adore books about witches. It isn’t a topic I grew up on, but one that is a recent obsession. Witches of Ash and Ruin has diversity (bisexual, anxiety, queer, Nigerian SC, and somatic OCD), questions about what we will do for power, and darkness spreads from page one. The stakes are high and deadly. Foreboding oozes from the first chapter and only increases as the mysteries keep unraveling. Witches of Ash and Ruin is almost constantly action mixing elements of serial murder, witch-killers, and the homophobia of the community – all equally terrifying.
The momentum of Witches of Ash and Ruin only builds as the story progresses in this multiple POV story of power, corruption, and betrayal. Latimer introduces themes of nature versus nurture especially as it is revealed the differences in powers. Do the influences around us set us on paths we cannot leave? This is certainly a darker fantasy not only with the murders, but also the emphasis on power and obedience. What forces are at work behind the scene and the sense of mystery pulls readers along.
Because of the multiple POVs, at the beginning I was struggling with getting a sense of each character. Witches of Ash and Ruin is definitely action driven – unlike some other stories which are almost exclusively character driven. Witches of Ash and Ruin vibes are of a series opener which means that all these POVs are setting the stage for more. Because of that, I got a sense that we get a general overview of the world (including the setting of Ireland) and the characters who will become more important, but there lacks depth in some areas.
Witches of Ash and Ruin is a book that sheds light on monsters hiding in plain sight. Heavily influenced by Celtic mythology, it is an intriguing first book to what promises to be an action packed series. Find Witches of Ash and Ruin on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.