The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter, #1)

The Shadow Rises (Witch-Hunter, #1) - K.S. Marsden (I was given an e-copy of this book by the author, in exchange for an honest review.)

I admit I have a really mixed opinion on this book, and although it was quite the page-turner all the same, I'm not sure it worked for me in the end. Not as in "bad", just as in "I wanted more."

The plot in itself is interesting, full of action, with several turns that make things quite exciting—and once you get to said twists, you come to realise they are totally logical, and fit within the general context.

While the idea of witches all being bad can appear a very basic one, and something of a cliché at first, it also leads to some questioning throughout the novel, especially due to the fact that everything is seen from the point of view of the witch-hunters. On the one hand, we're shown human sacrifices, but the witches also do have a point when they state that they, too, have a place in the world, and there's potential in that kind of vision. Since this seems to be the beginning of a series, there's a lot of room for the author to work with such themes, and maybe more is to be learnt about the 'evil' the witches represent. Have they always been inherently bad? Do they resort to sacrifices because they want to, or because they need to? Don't the hunters have something of a skewed view on this, too—as well as their own black sheep, who prefer to shoot first and talk later? And I liked the part about how the Benandanti and the higher generations may not be so different from witches to begin with. I had half-expected something like this, and I'm glad the matter was raised.

However, a major problem I had—the most important one, even—lay with the characters, whom I'd have enjoyed more if they had been more fleshed out, if they had felt more "alive". In the end, I didn't really know who Hunter, Sophie and James were, I couldn't feel them as human beings, and I didn't really care. As a result, I wasn't too invested in them (which is a shame, because they have their quirks and qualities), and I suppose that lack of involvement on my part made the aforementioned turns in the story easier for me to guess: my attention wasn't "distracted" enough by character development to stop wandering ahead and predicting the twists. The story felt too rushed, as if it had to be told as quickly as possible, when a somewhat slower pace would've allowed for more development regarding the characters, the organisation they work for, and their own relationships, to make the reader more invested. For instance, if we had got to know Charlotte better, through seeing her more often, Hunter's reaction to her demise would've been more touching and understandable.

As for the writing style itself, there was also some head-hopping/switching from one point of view to another, which made things confusing at times. The book could do with a bit more editing.

In all fairness, I did find the story itself interesting; it was mostly the characters part that was a breaker for me.