Title: A Curse of Ash and Embers
Series: Tales of the Blackbone Witches #1
Author: Jo Spurrier
Genre: young adult, fantasy, paranormal
Release Date: November 3, 2020
Page Count: 272
A dead witch. A bitter curse. A battle of magic.
Some people knit socks by the fire at night. Gyssha Blackbone made monsters.
But the old witch is dead now, and somehow it’s Elodie’s job to clean up the mess.
When she was hired at Black Oak Cottage, Elodie had no idea she’d find herself working for a witch; and her acid-tongued new mistress, Aleida, was not expecting a housemaid to turn up on her doorstep.
Gyssha’s final curse left Aleida practically dead on her feet, and now, with huge monsters roaming the woods, a demonic tree lurking in the orchard and an angry warlock demanding repayment of a debt, Aleida needs Elodie’s help, whether she likes it or not.
And no matter what the old witch throws at her, to Elodie it’s still better than going back home.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.
I’d been seeing this book around, and WITCHES so of course I had to request it on NetGalley, because, why not? I think that this book was good, and I am struggling to put my thoughts into words in regards to how I felt about the book. I definitely liked parts of it, and then there were parts I wasn’t as wild about. When it worked, it really worked, but then it fell flat at other times. I really struggled with how to rate this book because I am still unsure of what the rating should be. So I did a good middle rating of a three. I feel it encapsulates much of my feelings on the matter.
First off, Elodie. I liked her from the beginning. I think that she was crafted to be a nuanced character, but at times that fell short. It felt as if she was supposed to be the underdog you were cheering for, and she was, but at times I struggled to care about some of the things that happened after she left home. I did care to a point, but what happened I think is that parts of the book dragged out too much, or didn’t flesh her out enough that I was left in this weird state of…caring but not caring.
Aleida was a good character, and I found her balance to Elodie wonderful. I think that had it just been about one of them individually I would not have enjoyed the story at all. I like that she was somewhat a foil to Elodie. But unfortunately, much of what I liked about this book wasn’t expounded upon. There were also characters thrown in that you kind of wondered why? And when it was revealed it was a bit of an “oh!” moment. So I liked how that was interwoven with the book.
My biggest gripe is definitely the combination of the pacing and the plot. Both felt very disjointed to me, and at times I was wondering when the end of the book was. This is not a good thing – you should not be wondering when the end of the book is coming up. It should not be a race to finish it. And yet, at points during this book, I felt it was far too long and drawn out. There were certainly parts I really liked.
I enjoyed parts of the magic system…but overall I just didn’t feel like the book flowed to me, or worked for me. There was nothing bad about the writing, in fact it was easy to read, but I wasn’t invested in the story the way I would like to be.
As I like to say, I didn’t click with it as much as I wanted to.