Book Reviews

These Witches Don’t Burn: ★★★☆☆

Isabel Sterling

After a life-threatening encounter with a blood witch in New York, Hannah returns home newly single and hoping to leave her pain in the Big Apple. She is enjoying her summer until a bloody scene is discovered one night. While the adults chalk it up to a silly tourist attempting to replicate a magic ritual, Hannah believes that the blood witch has followed her back to Salem, Massachusetts. After her concerns are dismissed by her Elemental Coven, Hannah is forced to team up with the last person she wants to see: her ex, Veronica. 

Along their quest, Hannah meets Morgan, the new girl in town. Suddenly, Hannah is juggling a jealous ex, a potential threat to her coven, and her new crush. In this small town adventure, Hannah attempts to get the girl and make it out alive. 

If you are searching for a semi-spooky read, just in time for Halloween, These Witches Don’t Burn is the perfect fit! Filled with witchy-elements, LGBTQ+ representation, and a mini-mystery, this book is a quick and entertaining read. 

I personally loved this book! These Witches Don’t Burn is a perfect read for those who can’t quite handle those Stephen King horrors, but still want to get into that Halloween mood. The pacing was wonderful as Sterling found a fantastic balance between plot and character development, so that the reader is never left bored, but the characters broke surface level. It was also refreshing to see a LGBTQ+ romance that wasn’t the main focus. The book was about facing the threat to Hannah’s life, and her relationships with Veronica and Morgan played just one part in the overall plot. Hannah’s sexuality was not at the focus of her life which, in turn, made the relationships feel natural and normalized. This is something I think that needs to happen more in YA fiction because the more common and natural non-heterosexual relationships are portrayed, the closer we are to full acceptance and representation in media.


The Mirror Visitor: A Winter’s Promise: ★★★☆☆

Christelle Dabos

Translated from French, this first installment of The Mirror Visitor quartet pulls the reader into the enchanting world of the arks. After The Rupture, the world was split into many floating islands, called the arks. Each is ruled by a family spirit and hosts a family with a unique power. A Winter’s Promise follows Ophelia, a mousy young girl, who resides on the ark of Anima. Her power to read the past of objects is unmatched and vital to her job of running the history museum on the ark, and her time is filled with looking after her museum and traveling through  mirrors, her other talent. Ophelia’s world is quaint and she is content with the way it is, until one day, her mother reveals that she has found a suitor for her. Soon, Ophelia is ripped from all she has ever known and thrust into the freezing world of the Pole, the coldest ark. She finds herself betrothed to the icy Thorn, the treasurer of the Pole. Ophelia soon discovers that she is not there for the sole purpose of marriage, but that she plays a much larger role in a much bigger game. Finding herself a pawn in a political scheme that could cost her everything, Ophelia must learn who to trust and who might cost her her life. 

This foriegn read is an extremely enchanting one. Despite its daunting size,  A Winter’s Promise is a fast read for anyone who gets pulled into Ophelia’s twisty world. It’s recommended for those who enjoy an adventure — and a good series, as the fourth installment of The Mirror Visitor is set to be released in French this November, with the English translation following suit.  

A Winter’s Promise is positively enchanting. I found myself engrossed by Ophelia’s magical world and wanting more once the hefty book was complete. I enjoyed meeting Ophelia as she is presented as a very quiet girl, yet she isn’t as compliant as her demeanor may imply. Her inner fierceness made for interesting interactions throughout the story and made her choices unexpected. The other characters are interesting, to say the least. Each are driven by goals which obviously result in clashing desires and chaos in The Pole court. 

Expecting another arranged marriage, enemies-to-lovers romance, I was pleasantly surprised by the turn the story makes. Instead of focusing on Ophelia and Thorn’s romance, or lack thereof, A Winter’s Promise is more of an adventure story. Twists and turns occur while Ophelia, and the reader, attempt to uncover the mysterious, and possibly world-altering plot that’s cooking up at court. 


And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: ★★★★☆

Fredrik Backman

In this compact, 97 paged novella, Fredrik Backman tells a beautiful story about a boy learning to say goodbye to his grandfather. Set mostly in the grandfather’s fading mind, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer equates dementia to a fuzzy world within his mind. 

While the story is extremely sad, it offers a therapeutic comfort. It offers a perspective that could be vital to those who are also dealing with their aging grandparents and struggling to say goodbye. This novella is highly recommended to those who are in a similar situation or for anyone who needs a good cry. 

I’m going to be honest: I absolutely wept when I finished this book. That’s right, this book WILL make you cry, if not at least tear up a little. And Everyday the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is such a beautiful story, I cannot recommend it enough. Even if you haven’t had a direct experience with someone who is losing their memories, I think this book can connect to anyone because while the story is about a man with dementia, it is fundamentally a story about learning to let go of a loved one. That is something all of us, sadly, have to experience throughout our lives. It is a story about love, romantic and familial. It is a story about life and can teach one to value and treasure every moment. I believe Backman’s novella holds a lesson in how to say goodbye, a very valuable lesson that many of us could benefit from understanding before we have to face it in real life.