Author: Shanna Miles
Publisher: Rochelle and Reed Publishing
Publication Date: 1. June 2017
Rating: 2/5. Stars
TW: KKK (just mentioned), murder, racism, suicide
Summary: Years ago, witch hunters came to Carolina and devoured the Willows. Sixteen-year-old Collette, a powerful empath, was one of them. A part of a long line of witches that stretches back as far as the slave auctions of Charleston, she was especially gifted.
Decades later, a series of strange kidnappings prompts a member of her secret coven to make a plea for help and Collette is chosen to answer the call. But things have changed. Angels have come out of the divine closet and everyone is on the lookout for the supernatural.
Snatched from the Void, she has to choose between a normal life and following the warrior path of the Willows, a coven she didn’t know she belonged to. Soon, problems pile sky-high as she struggles to keep the boy who could blow her cover at arm’s length and her sanity as family secrets come to light in the midst of a serial killer.
In the end it all comes down to destiny, death and the grey places between good and evil. But then again, when you’re Willow Born death can be just the beginning.
Pre-Order here: (Will be added as soon as there are pages where you can buy the book)
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book has a really interesting premise, but it never really lived up to my standards (except in some short moments). What really bothers me is that is marketed as a stand alone Paranormal Fantasy. It doesn’t feel like a stand alone. The ending reads much more like the first book in a series and I have to admit that I would like to book more if it has a sequel. More on that later.
Anyway, there used to be a powerful Coven. The Order of the Willows. It had been founded by slave women who wanted to be able to protect themselves. One day somebody started killing them, one by one, until somehow the murderer is stopped. By then nearly half of the Order is dead. Now the murders have started again and Willow is revived to help stop whatever is doing this. The only problem? She has never heard from the Order and she definitely does not know any magic.
Willow could be a really fascinating character since she has empathic powers, but sadly this part of her powers is only very rarely makes use of them. It is said that she is the Blessed Willow, which means she is all-powerful like the founder of the Order, but this is never fully shown. We are actually only told right in the end and then bam, it’s over? All of this would make much more sense if the story was set up to have a sequel.
The same thing happens with the Order in general and its history. I wish there had been some more explanation about the Coven of Witches, even though in this story we actually only had two witches who are still alive at the beginning of the book and barely any explanation about how the Coven worked except a few hints and there. (Why is there no sequel?!)
Most of the side-characters are just boring sadly. A lot of them feel like flat stereotypes and they fall into a lot of tropes. “The beautiful mean-girl”, “the best friend”, “the mysterious Love Interest”, “the wants-to-be-famous-but-is-laughable High School Girl” and so on. Like this, I couldn’t fall in love with any of them. The only side character I did care about was Ms. Collins and I wish we had gotten to see even more of her. She is a great teacher to help Willow with her powers.
Another huge disappointment for me was the Romance? They meet when Matt saves Willow from drowning. Throughout the novel they meet again and again, but already after having talked two times, Willow feels this weird connection between them (her empathy acts up and she feels really good when she’s with him, I mean seriously looking at him is described as if the sun comes up after they have talked three times (one time was just a sentence or two)). Now either this is Insta-Love (bleh) or some magical connection thing that is never explained. Both are bad. In another scene Willow is angry at Matt and he just ?!? grabs her and kisses her mid-sentence. Stuff like that is not cute. And of course, afterwards all her anger was -poof- gone. I don’t know why such scenes always have to be in YA novels. For me, it really cheapens the romance because if they can’t talk about small things without trying to fix it, than how will they deal with bigger problems later on in their relationship? Idk, it’s a huge pet peeve of mine. Otherwise, their romance is interesting, but also underdeveloped.
Now I really liked the mythology. It was mostly judeo-christian inspired, with reciting the Psalms for certain spells, but there were also chinese kitchen-elves (which honestly felt really gross for me?!? I mean?? the elf was invisible cleaning personnel that had been sold with some pottery??? eww) and trolls and greek goddesses. But witchcraft was also just science? I don’t really know what to make from this concept. I liked the idea, but some parts of it didn’t make sense, while others were quite lovely. But like many other things in the novel it felt… hazy and not fleshed out enough.
There is also a scene in the book where whole paragraphs repeat, but since I only have an arc I’m guessing it will be fixed before the publication.
All in all, I once more have to repeat that this story has a really interesting idea, but it lacks development in pretty much all stages, so I can’t rate it higher.
But I also want to mention that I just have an arc, and for some weird reason the page count on goodreads is much higher (over 140 pages more) than the page count on my e-reader, so it might be that the arc copy I have has already been edited and expanded.