book review, young adult

Witches of Ash and Ruin by E. Latimer (Review)

Title: Witches of Ash and Ruin
Author: E. Latimer
Type: Fiction
Genre: YA, Fantasy, LGBT, Paranormal
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette Book Group)
Date published: March 3, 2020

A physical copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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.

⤖ My Review ⬻

I still remember when I first heard about Witches of Ash and Ruin. I thought that the title sounded epic. And when I saw the cover, it only encouraged me to read this book even more (some of my may have seen my minor freakout in my Insta stories when I unboxed this title, haha). I will generally pick up anything that has to do with witches (with the exception of the occasional book where a witch/or witches are cast as the antagonist/s).

The fact that Witches of Ash and Ruin is set in Ireland just ramped up my anticipation. And speaking of the setting, the first thing that I noticed when I started reading was the way in which the author had a way of describing the setting without using very many words to do so. Or maybe she just did it in a way that wasn’t very obvious.

I absolutely loved Latimer’s writing and how much she was able to express through the setting and the mood of the book alone. The dark elements in this book were also well-written and definitely gave me goosebumps. I definitely tried to read this book during daylight hours, haha.

I found the portions from the antagonists’ perspectives to be written in a slightly confusing way, but this is because the reader—in a way—steps into the mind of the villain which is a bit of a chaotic place. So I feel like this added to the eerie feeling and mystery because it was unsettling. I couldn’t predict what the villains would do next!

While I did love the setting and mood and how they were described, I didn’t feel particularly invested in any of the relationships and characters. I did ship one of the relationships in the story, but it wasn’t the ‘can’t-put-this-book-down’ kind of shipping. If that makes sense, haha. I spent some time trying to figure out why this happened, and the only conclusion I came to was that the pacing in the story was little off for me (too quick in some sections that should be slower, and vise versa).

All in all, I did enjoy this read and would recommend it to anyone who’s in the mood for an atmospheric, LGBT, spooky story rooted in mythology and set in a conservative town in Ireland! This is very specific, I know, but I would still recommend this book if you were intrigued by only one or two of those descriptors! And I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for what Latimer writes next,

⤖ About the Author ⬻


E. Latimer is a fantasy writer from Victoria, BC. Her middle grade novel, The Strange and Deadly Portraits of Bryony Gray was published by Tundra Books, and was recently nominated for the Red Maple Fiction Award. In her spare time, she writes books, makes silly vlogs with the Word Nerds about writing, and reads excessively. Her latest novel, Witches of Ash and Ruin, will be released Spring/Summer 2020 from Disney Hyperion.

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