Your greatest enemy isn’t what you fight, but what you fear.
Elizabeth Grey is one of the king’s best witch hunters, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and doling out justice. But when she’s accused of being a witch herself, Elizabeth is arrested and sentenced to burn at the stake. Salvation comes from a man she thought was her enemy. Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful and dangerous wizard in the kingdom, offers her a deal: he will save her from execution if she can break the deadly curse that’s been laid upon him. But Nicholas and his followers know nothing of Elizabeth’s witch hunting past–if they find out, the stake will be the least of her worries. And as she’s thrust into the magical world of witches, ghosts, pirates, and one all-too-handsome healer, Elizabeth is forced to redefine her ideas of right and wrong, of friends and enemies, and of love and hate.
Elizabeth Grey has spent the bulk of her short life rooting out witches and witchcraft and watching as they are killed for their crimes. Elizabeth and her fellow witch hunters have been trained by Lord Blackwell to hate everything that is magic, to bring a stop to all that is magic so peace can once again reign in Anglia. Since she was orphaned during the magic-induced plague, Elizabeth has never known another family other than Lord Blackwell and her fellow witch hunters. With her from the beginning has been fellow hunter, Caleb Pace, the boy who found her after the plague took her parents and brought her with him to be trained as a hunter. Elizabeth thought nothing would ever tear her and Caleb apart and then she was arrested as a suspected witch.
For a week Elizabeth rots away in jail waiting for Caleb to come for her as he promised he would. When the time comes for her to be released (read executed), it isn’t Caleb who is her savior but the most wanted practitioner of witchcraft in the country, Nicholas Perevil. In an impressive display of magic, Nicholas not only steals Elizabeth from the jaws of death but he takes her into his home where she is cared for and returned to health. When Elizabeth wakes, she feels instantly as if she has gone from the frying pan into the fire and there is a really cute boy in the fire with her. John Raleigh is a healer who proves to Elizabeth through both his actions and words that not all magic is bad and not ever witch or wizard is out to accomplish evil deeds. In fact, the longer Elizabeth is with Nicholas and his band or outlaws the more she is confused by her life and her training. If magic isn’t all about evil then why has the crown been rooting it out for so long? Why have so many died?
Within days of being with Nicholas Elizabeth discovers she is now the most wanted person in Anglia, Nicholas is dying, she is part of large prophecy meant to restore Nicholas’s health, and Lord Blackwell may not be everything he has shown the world. With few choices and mounting doubts about the nature of witch hunting, Elizabeth agrees to help Nicholas and his group. Though Nicholas warned Elizabeth not to reveal her with hunter status to the group circumstances just keeping cropping up that reveal Elizabeth’s nature to the group which creates a tension not needed in a situation already fraught with tension and danger. The group is forced to travel and risk getting caught but saving Nicholas’s life is worth it. He has been cursed and destroying the curse tablet is the only way to save him. With her witch hunting skills being called upon at every turn, Elizabeth is stunned to find out not only who cursed Nicholas but why it was done in the first place.
The longer the group is together the more opportunity Elizabeth has to sort out her feelings and for the group to figure out they really can trust her. Everything and everyone Elizabeth has ever known has been called into question and as she sorts through the pieces of the puzzle she begins to understand the significant shift in her loyalties and what she must to do in order to protect those she has come to care for. Elizabeth must walk right into the enemy’s camp in order to save Nicholas and when the chips are down, she is ready, willing, and able to fight to death.
The Bottom Line: The Witch Hunter is a very slow start but if you are willing to hang on to about the halfway mark, your patience will be rewarded. Elizabeth is a strangely likeable character who has lived a lot of life in a very short amount of time. In many instances, I forgot Elizabeth’s age given the circumstances she finds herself in and how she handles herself throughout. In the face of incredible odds, Elizabeth calls on her training to keep herself calm and save those around her. She is brave and daring and so courageous when she is forced to face her worst fears. In addition to Elizabeth, The Witch Hunter offers a strange mix of characters including Nicholas Perevil (a super-powerful yet kind wizard), the healer, John Raleigh (love him), the angry yet talented witch, Fiffer Birch (she takes some getting used to) and, the muscle and jokester, George (he is hard to dislike). The group dynamic changes considerably over the course of the read as it should and will continue to do so as the series continues. The plot is interesting but as I mentioned previously, it is a very slow start. The read picks up the pace significantly at about the halfway mark with a lot of action and drama packed into the last half of the read. There were some instances/scenes throughout the read I found to be extraneous and could have easily been eliminated from the read in order to increase the pacing of the book. There isn’t necessarily a cliffhanger with this read but it is very clear in the final pages that the author is far from finished with this cast of characters!