Author: Jennifer Mugia
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Length: 328 pages
Raised by an old fortune-teller within the dark veil of the Bavarian Black Forest, Rune has learned two valuable lessons: only take from the forest that which you can use, and never, never look anyone in the eye in the village. For something terrible happened in the forest long ago... and now, the whispers of a long-dead mother with a vengeful secret have come haunting.
Forced to flee all she has ever known, Rune soon learns of a legacy she is bound to--one that is drenched in fear, witchcraft and murder--a birthright that stretches beyond the grave to the trees where Rune is no longer safe.
Protagonists: Rune has been raised in the Black Forest of Bavaria by and old fortune-teller and the only mother she's ever known. That is until her long dead mother's voice begins to whisper to her from beyond the grave haunting Rune as she begins her journey to discover the truth about who she is and where she comes from. While it was fairly hard to get a good grasp on Rune's character at the beginning of the book, possibly due to the fact that I felt I was told more about who Rune was rather than shown in the beginning, as the book picks up it's easy to get a read on who Rune is and the deep inset moral code that she retains even when all seems lost. Her growth over the book is fantastic and beautifully interwoven with that of secondary protagonist Laurentz. Laurentz, who I kept calling Laurence while I was reading, is the son of the Electorate of the castle near Rune's village and after travelling down to Rune's village finds his life will never be the same. Haunted by his own past Laurentz was a fairly similar character to Rune, but was amazingly still able to keep a distinct and unique voice than that of Rune, whose chapters take up the majority of the book.
Romance: While there is a romance in this book it is very subtle, it really never got as far as I was expecting it would which was a very big surprise. While there was an instant attraction between Rune and Laurentz, it was just that attraction, they acknowledged that the other was attractive but while it showed that they have romantic feelings for each other they weren't really discussed between the two during the book which was probably the most surprising of all as I'm so used to characters making out before the end of the first book. I found that I really enjoyed this change of pace as it left more room for the plot to shine through.
World-Building: So there are so many categories this book could go under, witch lore, fantasy, paranormal, historical fiction, and even a dark mystery. All of these things describe this book so limiting it to just one wouldn't even begin to touch on what this book is about. Set in Bavaria at the beginning of an inevitable witch hunt and inquisition, our heroine must stay safe as there are many forces great and small that want to see her dead. With even a mix of political intrigue the author weaves a fantastic and immaculate world to set this series in. I was blown away by the descriptions and imagery that I felt like I was practically right there with Rune during her adventure.
Predictability: When I began this book many questions were raised and I had thoughts on all of them, little theories ranging from the incredibly possible to the bizarre but not unheard of. Before I was even halfway through this book all of my theories were debunked. When the answers to these questions were revealed well it's not a stretch to say that I was shocked, and while some shock came from the fact that there was just no way to piece those pieces together, there were also a lot of surprises that I realized made perfect sense and had to chastise myself for not realizing it before. This book is full of spectacular reveals and marvelous twists.
Ending: With this being the first book of a series I had expected a rather plateaued ending, which we get, but as the book was wrapping up I had felt as though there might have been a cliffhanger after all. While there wasn't I still found myself pining for the next book in the series. As for the final climactic moment itself, well all I can say is it was phenomenal! Everything comes together in a crazy awesome way where it all just comes together, makes sense and makes me cheer!
If you're a fan of witch books (or really any of the categories I listed in the "World-Building" section) I highly... HIGHLY!!!!... recommend this book. I'll just leave it there as I think I've used all the synonyms for "fantastic" that I can.
P.S. I'm currently holding a GIVEAWAY for a SIGNED ARC of The Iron Trial, the first book in the Msgisterium series, by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare so if you would like a chance to win head over here for your chance to WIN!!!