Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DNF: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

DNF Explanation

Read: 117 of 320
Received: ARC from publisher, via NetGalley

I thought a book about witches (with actual magic) set in Tudor England during the tenuous reign of Mary (as in, Bloody) would be filled with all sorts of excitement and intrigue.

Unfortunately, no. Maybe this is a case of misplaced expectations, but if I had to pick one word to characterize Witchstruck that word would be "boring."

The characters rarely did anything useful with their magic, which I never understand because if I had magic I'd use it for everything. But, I don't know, maybe the magic in this world can't be used like that? It was all very "cast the circle, bring out the ritual knife" kind of magic, which was super serious and kind of sapped the sparkly joy out of magic. Except for when it wasn't and Meg could just do things with her mind. So, yeah, I'm not really clear on the rules of magic in this world.

And, yes, I know the fact that witches are considered evil and tracked down by witch hunters to be killed in horrific very Tudor-esque ways may be somewhat of a deterrent to using said magic, but, seriously, YOU HAVE MAGIC. Can't Meg figure out a way to use her powers (powers to alter the perceptions and thoughts of those around her, by the way) to manage to both be a magical witch AND stay secret?

Apparently not.  

I probably would have been able to get on board even with the frustrating misuse of magic if I had a compelling main character but Meg never struck that best friend chord with me. Her characterization was so wishy washy that I'm not even sure what character traits I'd assign to her.

In one breath she seemed like she had significant magical powers, and then in the next she's talking about how she really doesn't. She's totally on Elizabeth's side, but she doesn't want to stick her neck out to help Elizabeth in a plot to overthrow Mary.

And, I mean, I can see why she'd feel that way what with all the people losing their heads during that time and all, but a timid do nothing main character is a boring main character. Even if it's the smart thing to do (and Meg has already shown that she rarely does the smart thing).

Then there's the romance. Sure, Meg won't get involved to help Elizabeth, but she sure will get involved with a priest (sorry, "soon to be warrior priest" whatever) who has been sent by Mary to spy on Elizabeth. Because that's not stupid or anything.

Also, I had a hard time mustering up a swoon for a priest. Especially a bland priest.

Sorry, "soon to be warrior priest." Whatever.

By the time Meg found herself in a dangerous situation with witch hunters, I disliked her enough to root for the witch hunters. She was only in that situation because she didn't understand the importance of stealth (and then she couldn't figure out how to outwit a "simple" child kitchen maid. Really), and for a witch living in Mary's Tudor court as Elizabeth's pal, well, that's just dumb.

Bottom line

Does the intrigue pick up? Does the magic play a better role? Does Meg learn the value of sneakiness? Does the priest ditch his Catholic calling and transform into a dashing romantic hero? Does Elizabeth DO anything?

I don't know, but that would certainly improve things.

Do you have any questions about Witchstruck that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

Did you finish this book? What are your thoughts? Should I pick it up again?


  1. Oh boy. Turn and way I'm going to even attempt this one. So sorry it ended up being a bad fit.

    1. Nope, this is totally NOT the book for you, that's for sure! :)

  2. Thanks for the warning, I will steer clear of this one! I think several of the aspects you highlight would bug me too, especially the whole magic-without-rules thing. That's one of my pet peeves, because if there are no rules then magic can just be conveniently used to explain away anything!

    1. Yes, exactly! I read a spoiler for the ending, too, and it seems like the magic-without-rules is used too conveniently, and not in the most logical way either.

  3. Oh what a shame...I've been debating this the cover and the premise...but I'm not so sure now...

    1. I felt the same way :( (though I fell in love with the UK cover. I'm still a sucker for a pretty dress cover). If you're on the fence, I'd say give it a try! Especially if you can get a copy from the library. Plus, it will count for your challenge :)

  4. Aww, that sounds kind of really boring actually,
    I'm sorry, dear, may your next book be awesome

  5. Lol, I love your DNF reviews, Small. I have this one for review and read a page of it before I realized I wasn't in the right frame of mind for a historical fantasy. I haven't gotten around to reading it again yet and probably will hold it off for now. I hate when books involve magic but there are no rules about said magic!

    1. :) Thanks! I'm glad I'm not alone in wanting rules! :P


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