Title: Witch Finder
Author: Ruth Warburton
Publisher: Hachette Children’s Books
Publication Date: 2nd January 2014
Series/Standalone: Book 1, Witch Finder.
Source: E-galley for review from publisher via NetGalley.
Also by this author: A Witch In Winter, A Witch In Love, A Witch Alone.
Goodreads Description: London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.
Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.
Review: I loved Ruth Warburton’s Witch In Winter series so was really excited about her latest YA novel, Witch Finder, set in Victorian times. Ruth Warburton’s research is always meticulous and I loved the historical details she put into Witch In Winter so had high expectations for her historical set YA.
Luke is the latest recruit of the Malleus Maleficorum, a society dedicated to destroying witches. The last challenge he has to face is to kill a witch within a month or be killed himself. He randomly draws the name of Rosa Greenwood, a sixteen year old witch with connections to some of the most renowned and feared witches in London and goes undercover as a stableboy in her house. However complications ensue and there’s something about Rosa that gets under his skin.
Witch Finder was a great read with the same level of atmosphere and tension I’ve come to expect in Warburton’s writing. The setting really worked well and was really bought to life by the level of historical detail about London and the organisation Luke is a part of. There were some very tense and uncomfortable scenes within the book, which I somewhat expected considering the Malleus Maleficorum’s role in the second Winter trilogy novel. As an animal lover, I have to admit that at least two scenes really got under my skin and were quite hard for me to read. Also towards the end of the novel, Warburton really brings to life the poverty and danger prevalent in Victorian London.
The romance within the book was somewhat predictable, however the characterisation and development of Luke and Rosa really helped to ensure it avoided straying into boring or overdone territory. I loved the fact Rosa was searching for her own agency and power in a society where this was not the norm and that she was such a strong character. The only part of the novel I felt didn’t quite work for me was tied in to the reasons Luke wanted to go after the witches and part of a twist within this arc didn’t work for me personally.
Fans of Ruth Warburton’s previous trilogy or Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel series will find a lot to enjoy within Witch Finder which is filled with great historical detail, intrigue and high stakes for Rosa and Luke. I’m definitely looking forward to the next book!
I received a free ecopy via Netgalley from Hachette Children’s Books for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I receive the book.