Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

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Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Historical paranormal story about witches and witch hunters, set in the same fictional universe as Warburton's contemporary series. Enjoyable read with a strong romantic thread.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: January 2014
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1444914464

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Eighteen-year-old Luke wants nothing more than to be initiated into the Malleus Maleficorum. He wants to hunt witches because a witch murdered his parents. And he is looking forward to his final task in the process - to kill a witch chosen from the brotherhood's records. So he must make a journey from poverty-stricken Spitalfields to wealthy Kensington. And he can't wait. Sixteen-year-old Rosa is the witch that Luke has chosen at random. Rosa is the focus of her family's quest to restore its fortune and influence. They want her to set her cap at the fabulously wealthy Sebastian Knyvet, a member of the witch's ruling council.

But, when Luke meets Rosa, and sees her as a person, he realises that murdering her will be no easy task. And Rosa agonises over marrying the cruel Knyvet even though she knows her family depends on the match. Torn between loyalty to their clans and families and their growing attraction for one another, Luke and Rosa have hard decisions ahead...

What I particularly like about Witch Finder is that it is set in the same universe as Warburton's contemporary series. So the witches are run by the same, pretty murky, Ealdwitan and non-magical people are still called outwiths. I think it will draw in fans of paranormal novels who don't usually read historical fiction. For this story, Warburton has imagined a witch-killing brotherhood known as the Malleus. So the set up is forbidden love between a girl and a boy caught up in sectarian conflict - it might be familiar but it is enjoyable.

I also enjoyed the way in which Warburton has blended a lot of accurate historical information into the story. Witch Finder offers a vivid view of poverty in Victorian England and the awful conditions in the factory. She discusses phossy jaw - the literal rotting of the jaw suffered by match workers of the time, for example. In fact, I felt the scenes in Spitalfields were better realised than those in Kensington among the gentility - they felt real and busy and interesting. The connection between Luke and Rosa was great and I believed wholly in the attraction between them and I also appreciated that Luke wasn't only conflicted about murdering Rosa because he thought she was pretty, but also because he increasingly came to understand that coldblooded murder is wrong.

I was less keen on the sections of the book centring on Rosa's family. Rosa herself is a great character and I liked her, but her mother, brother, and potential beau all felt like stock nasty characters, lacking in real credibility, unlike the Spitalfields cast supporting Luke, who all felt fully fleshed out.

Witch Finder is primarily a romantic novel, so it is quite light and predictable. Nevertheless, I'd recommend it to all fans of the paranormal genre.

You might also enjoy Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb, this time set in Elizabethan, not Victorian, England.

Buy Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton at Amazon.com.


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