Book Review: Witch Finder (ARC)

Witch Finder (Witch Finder #1)
by Ruth Warburton
Paperback, 374 pages
Expected publication: January 2nd 2014 by Hodder Children's Books
Source: e-ARC from Publisher via NetGalley
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.

Witch Finder is where humans and witches exist together. However, not many humans are aware of the other's existence as the only difference between humans and witches is the magic that flows within the latter. Magic that only those with the special ability can see.

The story begins with Luke Lexton signing up to be a member of the Malleus Maleficorum, those who have taken it upon themselves to rid the world from witches. The last requirement for joining the brotherhood is blindly choosing a witch and killing it within the span of one month. Having chosen Rosamund Greenwood, Luke sets off to live the life of a fake Luke Welling and work as a stable boy for the Greenwood household to fulfill his duty to the brotherhood.

Witch Finder is devoid of humor and so has that gloomy tone to it that perfectly suits its genre. Like with most fantasy with historical backdrop that I have read in the past, the book also starts off with a slow plot, initially focusing more on the world-building but it moves more steadily as it reaches the middle part. I found the characters intriguing despite them being too serious. Luke seems to me like the kind of character that's loyal and always gets his job done. He joined the brotherhood in the hopes of killing the Black Witch who killed his father and he probably would've stayed true to my perceived character of him were he able to choose this Black Witch. However, the fact that Luke chose a sixteen-year-old girl instead became a game changer.

My first impression of Rosa was that she was a really weak character - physically and mentally - with a mother and a brother who are more than ready to ship her off to marry a witch from an influencial family just to secure their family's wealth. Granted, Rosa was also attracted to Sebastian. Sebastian who's dark and alluring and who's also attracted to Rosa. He has this sort of bipolar-ish nature. One moment, he's the sweet and gentleman and the next, he's killing puppies by knocking them against boulders. But despite him being a manipulative and cruel character, I found him even more interesting than the protagonists and I'd love to see what insane things he's set off to do in the succeeding books. At first, I was worried that he would cause a love triangle but I'm glad that Ruth knows better than to incorporate one in this. As well, there is no insta-attraction between our Luke and Rosa. It took them a long time to finally fall for each other however, their lack of serious interactions prior to this point gave the impression like it was rushed.

I am also glad to report that Ruth delivers with protagonists that are both well-rounded. Weak as they are against their opponents, both stepped out and managed to give a good fight. I am really excited to see more growth in their strengths as Witch Finder shows us how much stronger the villains are compared to our protagonists and I am really intrigued as to how Rosa and Luke will overcome these obstacles together especially since their relationship is still new and fragile. I am also a sucker for the kind of plot Witch Finder has - that "I'm supposed to kill you but I fell in love with you and now it's us against the world" plot. But more importantly because Ruth did a wonderful job with this concept.

Witch Finder is a great start to a promising series. Even though it presents the readers a slow build-up in the beginning, Ruth's captivating writing will grab you and hold you to your seat until the last pages. Needless to say, I am very, very much looking forward to the second book in this series.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars!

Disclosure: An e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher (Hachette Children via NetGalley) for free in exchange for my honest opinion. No compensation of any kind was received for this review.


  1. Sounds like an exciting new book! I will have to check it out!

  2. The cover is so pretty! And human and witches? Going to dig in!!

  3. I'm a sucker for the "I'm supposed to kill you but I fell in love with you and now it's us against the world" plot too! I really like the sound of this book now. Admittedly, I didn't really pay much attention to it before, but it sounds like something that could definitely work for me. And it's a relief to hear that there isn't actually a love triangle. And no insta-attraction either. Thanks for the helpful review! :)

    1. I fell in lust with this the moment I saw it so I'm really glad the contents didn't disappoint.

  4. "One moment, he's the sweet and gentleman and the next, he's killing puppies by knocking them against boulders."

    Ummmmm. Does he really kill puppies like that? That might be a problem for me Chel! I don't deal well with any sort of animal cruelty in books:( Other than that though, I'm intrigued, particularly by Sebastian. I'm always fascinated by characters with a cruel streak, who keep you wondering what you'll get from them one chapter to the next. Glad this one worked so well for you!!!

    1. Yes, he does, actually. I'd hate him also if he weren't such a hard character to crack.

  5. Huh, I thought the romance in this one would be very insta-love so it's good to know that it takes Rosa and Luke time to fall for each other.

    As for Sebastian, I have problems with him "killing puppies by knocking them against boulders"! That's so cruel; I'm not sure I like him right now.

    1. I thought so too but I'm glad it wasn't. Sebastian is really cruel and he thinks everyone is expendable. He's also very bipolar-ish which is why I think he's very exciting character. You just don't know what he's going to do next.

  6. Oh my, I was not expecting this book to be so dark! And I will admit as soon as I read the last line in the blurb, I inwardly groaned because I thought it'd be heavily romance focussed! Damn my judgements! :P

    I'm so glad you found such an intriguing series, it sounds like a very rounded book. Sebastian seems awful though, but the fact that you find him so interesting must mean the author has done a wonderful job in rounding out her characters. And I love these kinds of plots too, but have been disappointed many times with book that haven't done the plot justice. Can't wait to give this one a go, thanks for the awesome review Chel! <3

    Merry Christmas lovely xx

    1. Thanks Joy and Merry Christmas to you too!

      I think everyone who's read the blurb thinks that way, but it's really not! Though I wish they had more serious coversations before the actual falling in love. And yes, Sebastian is an awful character but his bipolar-ish nature makes him quite the interesting character.

  7. The word "gloomy" is very attractive to me in stories like this. :) For some reason this book wasn't on my radar at all, but in making the blog rounds today I've seen it on a few "currently reading" shelves. So glad to hear you liked it! Witches and Victorian London sound like a fun combination.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden


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