REVIEW: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

Title: The Witch Hunter
Author: Virginia Boecker
Format: E-ARC
Publication: June 2nd 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via Netgalley (thank you Hatchette Children’s Books and Netgalley!)
Genre: Fiction—Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal
Other classifications: Fae, Witchcraft and Wizardry, Young Adult

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Sixteen-year-old Elizabeth Grey doesn’t look dangerous. A tiny, blonde, wisp of a girl shouldn’t know how to poison a wizard and make it look like an accident. Or take out ten necromancers with a single sword and a bag of salt. Or kill a man using only her thumb. But things are not always as they appear. Elizabeth is one of the best witch hunters in Anglia and a member of the King’s elite guard, devoted to rooting out witchcraft and bringing those who practice it to justice. And in Anglia, the price of justice is high: death by burning.

When Elizabeth is accused of being a witch herself, she’s arrested and thrown in prison. The king declares her a traitor and her life is all but forfeit. With just hours before she’s to die at the stake, Elizabeth gets a visitor—Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in Anglia. He offers her a deal: he will free her from prison and save her from execution if she will track down the wizard who laid a deadly curse on him.

As Elizabeth uncovers the horrifying facts about Nicholas’s curse and the unwitting role she played in its creation, she is forced to redefine the differences between right and wrong, friends and enemies, love and hate… and life and death.


I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

I expected to enjoy The Witch Hunter, what I did not expect is how refreshing it’ll turn out to be. It’s atmospheric, engrossing, and the romance is just so good. I’m admittedly not big on this element but Boecker hits all my marks and I cannot complain, really. The MC has a clear voice and there are serious badass supporting cast. I like Elizabeth’s internal monologue; she’s very introspective. She doesn’t cower from the fact that she’s afraid to be alone, she acts based on principles, and it’s interesting to witness how she processes what she learns along the journey.

“I’m weak. I’m tired. I’m injured. I’m confused. I’m ashamed of what I’ve done, afraid of what I’ve got to do. I am what I always feared I’d be: alone.”

It took me a while to settle in the rhythm of this world, but after a few chapters, I was sucked right in. The Witch Hunter is not about the epic battle sequences, although it has a few; it enchants with its quiet scenes. The way Elizabeth questions and makes sense of what she believes in, the stolen glances, the gradual shift of reality for each character. Elizabeth gets three companions: John, George and Fifer. And I feel like every single one of them received the right amount of airtime. And that’s one of the strongest features of this debut, because the dynamics among the four is pure fun. Well, there may or may not be unanticipated punches involve. And Caleb Pace, Elizabeth’s childhood friend, warrants a mention. In the minimal appearances he has, I saw a glimpse of a well-realized, if positively flawed, character. Here’s me throwing a coin in the hopes that one of the planned two novellas centers on him. Basically, I’m saying Boecker gets it right. She gets it right especially with one particular scene which, up until now, still gives me the feels.

“The wizard who rescued me, the boy who healed me, the girl who bathed me, the fool who befriended me. I’m indebted to each of them in some way, yet they are my enemies. They’ve shown me kindness, yet I’m prepared to kill them.”

I have issues with the language, it’s contemporary when I would much prefer otherwise. But this is a pet peeve more than anything. Plus I somehow guessed the twist, but that didn’t stop me from racing through to find out what happens in between. If you’re a fan of works like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters or Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, this one’s your cup of tea.

“I’m quiet for a moment, enchanted by the idea of something stealing over you, settling into you, and telling you, with absolute certainty, who you are and what you’re meant to do.”

Boecker delivers a forcible debut—and a duology starter at that—with The Witch Hunter, which places her among the set of authors whose future books I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for.

4.0 out of 5


Virginia Boecker

Virginia Boecker recently spent four years in London obsessing over English medieval history, which formed the basis of The Witch Hunter. She now lives in the Bay Area, California with her husband and spends her days writing, reading, running and chasing around her two children and a dog named George.

In addition to English kings, nine-day queens, and Protestant princesses, her other obsessions include The Smiths, art museums, champagne, and Chapstick.

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Have you heard about this book? Are you interested to pick it up after reading my review? And, while I’m in a streak, do you have suggestions on witchcraft-and-wizardry titles up on your sleeve? Sound off in the comments below!

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21 thoughts on “REVIEW: The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker

  1. Looks like I’m in the minority with this book…I really didn’t like it. Especially Elisabeth. I hadn’t really thought much about the language until you pointed it out…and you’re right. For a novel set in the time that The Witch Hunter is, the language was surprisingly modern. Gah! And the completely ridiculous part is, I TOTALLY WANT TO READ THE SEQUEL 😥


    1. Want to hear something weird? I thought I was the one in the minority. Coz I haven’t read a good review about this. And I’m actually about to read yours before you commented. But I already know you didn’t like it. So. Maybe the sequel will totally convert you! There’ll be 2 novellas as well. One comes out in August and it’s from John’s perspective. I’m stoked!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been seeing quite a bit of mixed reviews for this title, and because of that I feel like I’m teetering along the lines of ” Don’t Pick This Up ” and ” Just Pick The Shit Up & Read It! ” lol. I haven’t read too many books about witches, (atleast I can’t remember) so I feel as though this would be such a refreshing read for me. I’m also a big fan of historical fiction, so maybe JUST maybe, I’ll go ahead and make the purchase. I’m most certain I will lol. Great review 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Tika! I feel like I’m in the minority here. But whatever, right? Between Half Bad, this and Uprooted, I’m certainly in a streak. Although, I must say I haven’t read much historical fiction. Anyway, if you ever end up buying this one, I hope it doesn’t disappoint!


  3. ZOMG YES I WANT IT NOW. I hadn’t read any reviews that really convinced me but consider yours perfect. ^-^ I like books like these…usually. xD Like, Half Bad, basically. Gee, I don’t think I’ve read many good witchy books (EXCEPT HALF BAD MY ADORABLE BABY. Am I repeating myself? JUST A LITTLE. XDXD) I mean The Raven Boys has a bit? But not really. And Egg & Spoon is about Baba Yaga, but that’s like swallowing a pillow of rocks….aka. I liked it, but very very dense and slow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This comment is everything! Thank you for trusting my terrible taste (coz I already read three reviews ranging from “I don’t like it” to “I srsly hate it”)! Oh gods, yeah, I should’ve mentioned Half Bad! Editing! They’re in the same vein, in that they’re steady and the character connections get a good deal of attention. Hmm. Your description of Egg & Spoon rings the same way as my experience with Uprooted.


  4. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this book! 🙂 I’ve been seeing mixed reviews everywhere, but it’s finally nice to read a good one! I like the fact that it was engrossing and refreshing because that’s something I’d want to read in a book. Thanks for the review ❤ I love the way you write!

    Jillian @ Jillian’s Books

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glad you enjoyed this! Your review is the fourth review of Witch Hunter I have read as of today! Two negatives and two positives all in all. Now I am really confused to give this a go. *Sigh.*


  6. What a great photo you took for the book. 🙂 And you used all of my favourite quotes too. I liked this book more than I expected too. I found some reviewers that didn’t enjoy it that much, so it’s nice to see someone who liked it as much as I did. I agreed with everything you said in your review… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, thank you Chrystal! I actually have two blogger acquaintances who hated/was frustrated at the book so I understand what you mean. I felt like I was in the minority. Did you know there’ll be a novella from John’s pov in August?


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