Winter Trials: Northern Witch #1

4 Stars

This story started off okay. I was definitely enjoying it for a while. The characters got short yet informative intros, so it was easy to know who everyone was. It was clear there would be fantasy elements but without the disbelief angle associated with it. Nothing like reading a book where the main characters deny that magic indeed exists for most of the book so that alone was a good point. It seemed like it was going to be a fun thing. But as the book progressed things got weird.

Certain reactions started to pop out as odd. And a few times the author would head jump at awkward moments. I have definitely been guilty of a POV jump or two and lots of authors do it but it’s when it happens and especially if a reaction is given to a character that is only in a scene for as long as the reaction, so it takes away from paragraphs of a solid POV and stands out.

Another thing that became apparent as the book went on is avoidance of pivotal moments. For instance, a good character-building scene when Mark’s nanna reveals something to his parents was glossed over. If the parents and the family dynamic are expected to be taken seriously every opportunity for them to interact with the main character needs to be milked. This is just one of a few times it seemed a scene just ended to go with another scene instead of the scene happening and leading into the next scene.

Little things like how Marks friends are barely in the bulk of the story, mostly the beginning and then the end, but they don’t’ say much in the end. They’re just there during a pivotal scene so when Mark’s dad protest, unless there were plans to have them really be a part of the scene, unlikely because they have zero magical abilities, they def didn’t need to be there. Speaking of his father, the fact he decided not to take up magic in his youth is mentioned a few times but never answered so it came of as irrelevant. I was honestly waiting for a character development scene to arise from this since Mark did decide to learn but this father-son conversation never materialised.

This might be a spoiler, but Mark did have one big reaction that seemed off. It involved a bit of blood and he had an outburst. I was legitimately thinking blood is used in some spells, surely he knows this. Why is he panicking like his Nan is going to kill his soon to be BF when they have both already explicitly expressed they are going to help him. Murder would be counterproductive.

Damian was all sorts of awesome though. Like the best thing in this story, okay maybe almost the best. Nanna was amazeballs. Honestly she needed more page time. As the only other two characters that got significant page time they rocked.

Lastly the ending spoke to how I said some things seemed to be just left there. The problem was the story had a fairly good wrap up, predictable ending and all the last scene only needed a nice rounded thought from Mark to give closure. Instead, the readers are left with an ending that is unfinished and, unfortunately, doesn’t qualify as a real cliff-hanger. If I’m coming back for part two it’s not for this thing that didn’t happen, it’s to see how the demon situation pans out. The scene following this climax, the Christmas ending, was a perfect way to segue into that giving the readers closure but also the promise of more to come. Far better than the ‘I’ve just read this whole book and completely forgot this hasn’t happened yet and now you’re teasing me with it maybe happening but still not happening’ type of ending. The main problem being based on the way this author writes I wouldn’t be surprised if the second part picks up after what was left unsaid here because, again, it definitely could’ve been left out entirely or actually happened to serve as some sort of closure. Both of which would’ve been ideal but in they style of not doing things that I’ve already mentioned no doubt this ‘thing’ will be avoided entirely.

Overall, the story had good flow. Things happened at a nice pace and it was an easy and enjoyable read. But thinking on Mark’s relationship with his friends and his family, and the fact that even knowing this was a part one I still expected the problem in this book to be resolved in this book and something new to arise for the next instalment, this book tried to be the types of things a full novel would do and either needed to delve into all of that development or trim it out and solely focus on Mark’s POV and let them be developed through that angle. For the way in which this novel was presented it didn’t have the page time to sell everything. It definitely read like it wanted to be a longer novel say 200 pages or so but got condensed into 121 without nipping out the stuff that needed those extra pages.

All my issues aside, for its genre this story did hit most of the points it should have. Even with its faults it’s worth the read. Even if only for the laughs that nanna provides. I mean who wouldn’t be on board with checking out hunky farriers. I’m def here for that lol. Even with the above flaws I was still very into this however the ending did make me consider dropping the rating, but it still gets four stars from me. It may have been a bit of a technical miss in my opinion but it’s a great story and I can see people thoroughly enjoying this series.

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