The Witch Haven Review

Hello, all!

I've been reading a lot of witchy books lately, and I'm not complaining! I mean, 'tis the season, right? The one I'll be talking about today is The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith.

Pub Date: 8-31-21
YA - Historical Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days working as a seamstress and her nights mourning the unexpected death of her brother months prior. One night, Frances is attacked and the man ends up dead with her sewing scissors embedded in his neck, and Frances has no idea how they got there. Frances is convinced she’ll be thrown in jail for murder, but before the police can convict her, she’s saved by two strange-looking nurses telling her she’s deathly ill and must report to Haxahaven Sanitarium for treatment. But Frances quickly discovers that Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all, but rather a school for witches.

Within the dark halls of Haxahaven, Frances finds friendship and power she never knew she possessed. Frances soon grows bored with the small simple magic being taught to the students and yearns for more. Then she meets Finn, a charismatic boy with magic of his own, who offers to teach her the skills needed to help her discover what happened to her brother. As Frances’ magic starts to grow, she catches the eye of a powerful leader of an ancient order who will do anything to have her by his side. With events spiraling out of control, Frances will have to decide between getting justice for her brother, her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of the witches and her city. But what if the price of power is more than she’s willing to pay?

This sounded like it was written for me. Historical fantasy set in New York City? Check. Witches and secret societies? Check. A female character learning to harness her power? Check. You would think that since it had so much going for it that I would’ve been immediately sucked in, but that wasn’t necessarily the case here. I liked the story, but it was just missing a certain something. The plot dragged on and was fairly predictable. I was able to guess where Smith was going with the characters and storyline, so nothing ever came as a shock. I also felt the characters could’ve benefited from being a bit more fleshed out. They all felt rather one-note, and I would’ve liked to have seen more depth and insight into their backgrounds. I did feel some emotion towards Frances, but it was mostly frustration in how badly she handled situations by not stopping to think things through. Despite not fully clicking with this as I’d hoped, I did love how atmospheric it was. This is also marketed as a standalone but the ending leaves the door open for a follow-up which I’d be interested in since all the potential was here in this one, it just needed a bit of finesse.

Rating: 3/5


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