Book Review: These Witches Don’t Burn
These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling
”Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of.” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This fantastic read had me lost for hours—okay, two, because I literally couldn’t put it down.
Immediately, you’re brought into this town of Salem, with Hannah—an elemental witch—and her tense relationship with her ex-girlfriend Veronica—who is a part of the same coven. You know, as all teen relationships go, that there is more than meets the eye between these two. A break-up never being just a break-up, and you find out their love-turned-hate frosty relationship is all to do with a Blood-Witch who they stumbled upon.
Isabel Sterling crafts a fun, easy to enjoy novel about four teenagers who find their town suddenly filled with arson, curses and a new detective. Isabel makes it hard for you to put down the pages long enough to make a cup of tea, and it’s one of the fastest reads so far of my 2020.
Before beginning this book, I had no idea it would be a part of a series, believing it to be a standalone, but as I neared the end of the book I’m glad to know a second is due for release in June of this year. Mainly because I’ve fallen hard for Hannah, Gemma and Veronica, and also head over heels with Isabel‘a writing.
“We stay like that for a long time. Until, finally, something inside starts to stitch itself back together.”
I love how from the get-go, Hannah’s sexuality is never shied from, as she self-confesses she is a “huge lesbian” and on top of that dates a bisexual female, her ex is sapphic, and with varying other queer identities mentioned throughout. It’s complicated, but real—just like any teenage romance. It’s not handled poorly either, and her experience isn’t the negative one you usually expect, but does provide realistic difficulties—Gemma’s parents is one. But Hannah’s parents don’t bat an eyelid, and it’s refreshing in a book that is aimed at Young Adults.
My favourite thing—other than the book being about witches—is how honest and raw Hannah’s emotions are with her ex. It’s real, like teenage romance actually is, and is filled with unresolved feelings and the pain of a breakup you didn’t want. Veronica and Hannah dance around each other like we can all relate to, but when it boils down to it, they’re more than just ex’s, and that particular relationship—of them being childhood friends—is written with such care, you don’t envision Veronica as the horrible-ex.
“I’m standing here, telling you how much you hurt me, and you can’t hear it.”
My favourite scene would actually be when Hannah is on her date with Morgan and Veronica calls. I love it because it’s a scene where you want to shout at her not to go, but also can totally understand the pull as to why she does. It’s written so well, and stands out to me as a character decision you don’t often see written. It’s not because Hannah wants to be the hero, it isn’t because she wants to save everyone, it’s because she cares, and even with all Veronica has done, she still can’t let her ex be hurt.
My only critique of this book is how underplayed the experience with the blood-witches in New York—but again, this may become a bigger plot point in later books. The world building, even of the town of Salem, was left quite open, and while I didn’t mind it, on reflection it does strike me as odd that we don’t get a little detail of this place. However, neither of these two distract from what a great book this happens to be, and I still stand by my rating because of it.
As a lover of witchy novels—and as a writer of one in the works—this book does no disappoint. It’s enjoyable, it’s characters fleshed out and it even swerved a curve ball I didn’t see coming. I’m so glad I read this, and am more than happy to add it to my shelf of favourites.
This Coven Won’t Break—book two in this story—is due for release in June 2020, and I’ve added a pre-order link for this below.
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