THESE WITCHES DON’T BURN
by Isabel Sterling
Age range & genre: young adult | urban fantasy
Publication date 16 March 2019 by Razorbill
Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.
But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.
While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.
This book is somewhere in between good and so-so. I thought These Witches Don’t Burn would be a fun and cute reading—I didn’t expect it to be full of conflicts and shocking. How could Isabel Sterling cramped a lot of plot twists in 320 pages?
But still, it was a quiet short read for me. I finished this book in a day and half and I was surprised my brain could handle everything that happened in the book. I guess I was bewitched (ha, get it?) by Isabel Sterling. But sadly, even though this book caught my attention until the very end, I can’t help but feeling like she could’ve done better than this.
These Witches Don’t Burn is a romcom young adult about a teenage witch, Hannah, who have to protect Salem from evil being that threatens her coven. Sounds fun and thrilling, right? After all, who doesn’t love supernatural drama! Yes, this book didn’t quite meet my expectation, but, it felt really nice to transported into another dimension for a moment wiithout stressing over today’s news. I read this book because I needed a break from depressing and sad read, also I needed something to cheer myself up—and it worked! These Witches Don’t Burn may have flaws, but so are other books. It doesn’t make me love it less. In fact, despite the flaws, this book becomes my favorite book!
FAST-PACED STORY, BUT CHEESY
Let’s appreciate the writing first. I love the writing, it was easy to understand every scenes and characters. Isabel Sterling is spilling all the tea about internal witch conflict that makes me carving for more juicy gossips. She is a great storyteller whose writing makes you want to finish the book as soon as you can because you need to know what happens.
That’s why I don’t think These Witches Don’t Burn is perfect for those who loves slow-burn story, because it is not. The story keeps me on my feet, because when Hannah moves, I move. When something happens, I feel what Hannah feels. Isabel Sterling takes me from the comfort of my bedroom to Salem, then transformed me into Hannah. I really appreciate authors who are able to make their readers get lost in the story; so that’s a plus point for her!
But, like I said earlier, Isabel Sterling kinda cramped everything in 320 pages. From the appearance of Blood Witch to the conflicts that happened in Salem. The main conflict here is inconsistent. I thought, we’re going to deal with Blood Witch, as the blurb said, but instead we’re dealing with other evil beings that threatened the whole coven. Half of the book is filled with Hannah trying to convince everyone that there might be a Blood Witch in Salem, but the rest of the book is just Hannah trying to figure out who is the real threat being here—Blood Witch forgotten.
Whereas I appreciate authors who can make their readers get lost in the story, I don’t really appreciate inconsistency a book has. What’s the point of introduce us to a villain, only to reveal that the villain is not the one we’re going to deal with? That is one of my pet peeves in books.
To sum the writing and story up, I don’t know if I should be glad that These Witches Don’t Burn still has a lot of cheesy, lame teenage drama, or not. Despite the on-going supernatural drama in Salem, Hannah still has to get through cheesy teenage drama in between her ex, her new crush and some asshole. It’s so refreshing to read about high school drama, because a lot of us can relate to how messy it is. I’m glad Isabel Sterling doesn’t forget that her target audience is young adult, but as someone who is not into ex girlfriend drama, I wish I can erase that part.
I keep comparing These Witches Don’t Burn to Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (because there are the only teenage witch stories I have read and watch), and I must say that, These Witches Don’t Burn is not as dark as CAOS. The story may be about centuries old supernatural conflict, but it is not as scary and demonic as CAOS. So, if you expect something that is very similar to CAOS, you won’t find it in These Witches Don’t Burn.
NOT A CHARACTER ORIENTED STORY
You read it right, These Witches Don’t Burn is not really focusing on the characters. The only characters that don’t feel like two dimensional to me is Hannah, and maybe that’s because she is our narrator, so she’s way more complex than others.
But, despite the lack of characterization, the interaction between characters—surprisingly—feels natural. There are few interactions in between Hannah and her friends that I like and can relate to. They may not have a best character development, but their interaction shows me that they’re still teenagers trying to navigate their life.
This is a funny supernatural drama book that helps me get through the stress I’m having recently. I agree with Lola, I can imagine These Witches Don’t Burn gets adapted either as a movie or a series. Honestly, These Witches Don’t Burn would fit into CW tv shows—I mean, look at the dramas that surround Hannah; both supernatural and ex girlfriend drama!