My latest addiction has been “A Witchling’s Rites” by Monica Sanz (AKA DistantDreamer), a fantasy adventure centering on Seraphina Dovetail, a hot-headed, talented, but cursed seventh child who finds herself in the midst of a literal witch hunt/purge by radicals.
So this story, still on-going, is to blame for me not sleeping till 1:30am. It’s fast-paced, the characters are interesting and realistic, and so vivid. From the school to the winter setting in to the docks, I see, hear, and smell everything.
Monica has a way to really drop me into the midst of the story and I find my heart racing when Sera is chased by a hell hound, tearing up when she gets betrayed, holding my breath when she is caught by the radicals, and whooping when she pulls through. She has her shortcomings but is one of those who is ever the underdog whom I always root for.
I’ve reviewed fantasy in a previous posts and have mentioned the three things that make a great fantasy (for me): the magic system, the characters, and the storyline.
Monica’s magic system is interesting, although not unique, utilising wands and spoken (sometimes unspoken) words, but Sera gives it a twist by being able to blast pure magic from her bare hands in a desperate situation. Most of the magic we see so far is unspoken and mostly blasted straight out of Sera’s hands, which fits in well with her bursts of rage, but I would also like to see more of her world’s “traditional” magic later on.
The characters — oh, the characters. Love them. There is the misunderstood, ostracised underdog Sera, her sympathetic albeit naive friend Mary, the possible love interest/new friend/possible future backstabber rich boy (but not a bad boy! Yes!) Timothy Delacort, the moody but oddly and awkwardly attractive professor Nikolai Barrington, and the ominous brotherhood who literally wants to sacrifice seventhborns to torture the dead. Their personalities are solid, the interactions so clear I hear each of their voices, and the subtle hints of romance spices up the action-packed story just the way I like it. I love a good story that sprinkles romance but is not driven by it. AWR is just that.
The storyline is a little harder to comment on at this point as it’s only several chapters in, but I’m already enticed by it. Monica paces it well, alternating between edge-of-your-seat adventure, backstory, and character building (I do love the more vulnerable sides of Sera and Barrington). There is some foreshadowing of unknown significance, making me hungry for more. I’m sure I’ll eventually reach a “eureka!” moment when everything ties together but she’a certainly got me speculating for now!
And did I mention the cover is amazing?
So go check it out. I cannot wait for the next update now that Sera and Barrington have reconciled their differences and are so much stronger as a team. The enemy have made their appearance and are bloody sinister. I wonder how the two will fare.