These Witches Don’t Burn is a spellbinding novel to a new series by Isabel Stirling.
It features everything from (gay) witches, first loves and heartbreaks, trying to get over said first love whilst searching for the Blood Witch in town and trying to solve a mystery to meeting a cute ballerina at a party and trying to flirt and hopefully get a date with her.
This book is strong with it centring around familial relationships and friends, as well as romantic, and doing amazing justice to Hannah’s relationship with her ex, and the budding new one with Morgan.
Here’s the blurb:
Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.
But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.
While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.
Sounds amazing, right?
From the very first page, I was hooked. It was captivating, well-written, perfectly paced with plenty action so it’ll be a great movie (*fingers crossed*). This glorious gay witchy romance was what made me instantly order it when it appeared on my Twitter timeline, and it arrived four days later. I read it within a day. When I say I couldn’t put it down, I mean it.
All of the characters were connected and it was refreshing to see Hannah’s parents strongly feature in it, when families so rarely do in YA books. The new romance was flirting in the pages simultaneously with a new threat, so it was exciting to see how it would all play out. What I found amazing was how, even though it was a fantasy genre, none of it seemed unrealistic. Even with certain non-fantasy books, any other kind of YA, I’m like ok, this is not possible—this does not happen in real life.
But with These Witches Don’t Burn?
I didn’t feel that. At all.
Earlier, I came across a review that said Isabel Stirling did more telling than showing—but I disagree. Everything leapt off the pages for me. I was watching it like a film in my ahead, filled with angst and love and magic and friendship and . . . dun dun dunnnnnnnn, plot twists. It was perfect, for me.
Everything was intense and wild, making me hold my breath in anticipation as I turned the page, eager to find out what happened. Because it was like, oh my god, what the actual heck is happening? I was panicking, along with the characters. I had tears in my eyes, feeling my heart beating faster along with Hannah along certain scenes. I was feeling the exact emotions she was feeling.
Every character had a role to play. While I did quickly forget about two of the side characters, and when they appeared again, I was like, wait who’s this?—it was still a fantastic read and clear that there were parts to play for each of these people.
It was a fun-filled read, bursting with feminism, well-thought out relationships that felt real and raw and powerful, empowerment, amazing friendships and light jokes scattered throughout. There were references to Harry Potter which I adored.
The only issue I had was that all the main characters were white and it seemed a little anti-men, what with the way they were all portrayed: evil, suspicious, dead. Like . . . there are some (very rare) good men out there, you know? They’re not all bad, even if all the ones I’ve come across aren’t great. But it would’ve been nice to have some kind of male representation in the book that didn’t end up the way it did. And all the characters being white. That was a bit of a let down.
Hopefully in the next book, there will be more POC.
I’m super, super excited to read the next instalment of the series—2020 can’t come fast enough. I am aching to get my hands on it. Isabel Stirling is putting little snippets on Twitter/Instagram that is making me jump up and down in anticipation. Ahhh. This was definitely a 5 star read for me. It was an epic, heartfelt mystery with heart-rending moments sprinkled in. Read it, you won’t regret it. Then talk to me about it.