Book Review

The Witch Hunt

The Witch Hunt

  • Author: Sasha Peyton Smith
  • Genre: YA Fantasy
  • Publication Date: October 11, 2022
  • Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
  • Series: The Witch Haven #2

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: grief, murder, blood, violence

The lush and pulse-pounding sequel to the New York Times bestselling The Witch Haven follows Frances and her fellow witches to the streets of Paris where family secrets, lost loves, and dangerous magic await.

Months after the devastating battle between the Sons of St. Druon and the witches of Haxahaven, Frances has built a quiet, safe life for herself, teaching young witches and tending the garden within the walls of Haxahaven Academy. But one thing nags; her magic has begun to act strangely. When an opportunity to visit Paris arises, Frances jumps at the chance to go, longing for adventure and seeking answers about her own power.

Once she and her classmates Maxine and Lena reach the vibrant streets of France, Frances learns that the spell she used to speak to her dead brother has had terrible consequences—the veil between the living and the dead has been torn by her recklessness, and a group of magicians are using the rift for their own gain at a horrifying cost.

To right this wrong, and save lives and her own magical powers, Frances must hunt down answers in the parlors of Parisian secret societies, the halls of the Louvre, and the tunnels of the catacombs. Her only choice is to team up with the person she swore she’d never trust again, risking further betrayal and her own life in the process.

After all of the excitement in book one, Frances has settled into a quiet life. She’s teaching a new group of witches, gardening, and rebuilding relationships with the women who mean the most to her. But there’s one problem for her—the magic that she has grown to love is not acting right. So when she’s invited to visit Paris, she jumps at the chance. Even though she knows that she runs the risk of running into Finn.

We already know that Finn is going to appear, but she also runs into another complication when she learns that the spell they used to speak to her brother has damaged the veil between the living and the dead, and a group is trying to use that to their own advantage.

I loved seeing the character growth in Frances in this book. She’s already broken out of the mold of what was expected of her, and built up a found family in book one. But in this book, she gets a deeper understanding of what that family really means. She’s been closed off from her emotions for so long, and the first book was packed full of traumas for her. In this book, the pace is still relatively quick, but she also has some time to process those traumas and decide what it is going to mean for her. In addition, she’s struggling with what the loss of her magic means for her, since she’s come to rely on it so heavily. 

In addition, we get to see one of my favorite side characters in the series, Oliver. He’s such a sweetie, but we also see his prickly side, which had me ready to jump up and cheer. The side characters, including Lena, Maxine, and yes, Finn, are all so central to the story, and I love the way that they interact with Frances and each other. The banter in the story kept me hooked, and almost had me forgetting that they’re fictional characters.

The setting was so gorgeous, and I could almost feel myself walking around the streets of 1920s Paris with them, watching the scenery, the sunsets, and smelling fresh-baked bread and croissants. 

Overall, this book was a beautiful follow up to Smith’s debut, full of lush and poetic writing and an intriguing plot that I couldn’t stop reading. This was the kind of book I could lose myself in, and wanted to wholeheartedly. It’s full of plot twists and intrigue, as well as action, mystery, and surprises. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Smith for future books.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 8

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