Book Review | Bitter Night
Author: Diana Pharoah
When you think of witches, spell books, cauldrons, and magic words all probably come to mind. In Bitter Night, Diana Pharoah Francis has taken witches and twisted them in ways that I have never read about before. It’s not often that I come across what I would consider an original idea in urban fantasy, but I give credit where it is due. Although I wasn’t completely in love with Bitter Night (the first in the Horngate Witches series), there were enough positive points in this book to make me eager to move on to the second in the series, Crimson City.
Max (not her real name) has been the Prime Shadowblade for her witch, Giselle, for the last 30 years. It’s a long time to hold a grudge, but Max vows that when the moment comes, she will use every advantage to take revenge against Giselle for robbing her of a mortal life. As the Prime Shadowblade, Max has endured much pain to be forged into a nearly invincible weapon to protect Giselle and Horngate, the place that they call home.
When Max discovers that the Guardians of earth are planning to wipe out all of humankind, something awakens inside of Max. Though it has been 30 years since she has seen her family, they are worth fighting for–even if they do not know that she is still alive. The Guardians need the witches to side with them, but Max will do anything–including making an alliance with the Prime Shadowblade of another coven–to see that their plans fall through.
Bitter Night was a bit of an uneven read for me; I thought the characterization was superb, but the world building to be lacking. Max is a main character that I can root for; she showed a tremendous amount of growth from the first page to the very last, and her pain and rage felt very real to me. She is tough, but she also has a soft side that begins to come out when she meets Alexander, the Prime Shadowblade for Giselle’s enemy, Selange.
I found myself a bit lost when it came to the world building. I would have liked more explanation as to the origins of some of the supernatural creatures, especially the witches. Near the end of Bitter Night, it is mentioned that witches have human family members, which led me to wonder if witches are born or made, and if they are made, what kind of process that involves.
After reading the description for Crimson City, I am thrilled to see that Francis will be taking the series in the exact direction that I had hoped that she would. Throughout Bitter Night, Max talks several times about the family she left behind, and I hoped that they would make more of an appearance in future books.
*I received a copy of this book to review but was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my own observations while reading this novel.*