Wednesday, June 29, 2016

#Wednesday Review - The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker (Young Adult, Fantasy) @virgboecker @littlebrown

Series: The Witch Hunter # 2
Format: E-Galley, 368 pages
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown (BYR)
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

"I think, in time, you'll either be my greatest mistake or my greatest victory."
Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He's readying for a war against those who would resist his rule--namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.
Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth's strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she'll go to save those she loves.

The King Slayer is the second and final installment in Virginia Boecker's The Witch Hunter duology. Things have definitely changed for former Witch Hunter Elizabeth Grey, one of the best hunters in all of Anglia. Accused of being a witch, she was then charged with treason, and sentenced to death by her own mentor Blackwell, who she trained with and worked with for three years. Thanks to the assistance of Nicholas Perevil, the most powerful wizard in Anglia, Elizabeth found herself living in Harrow with the very same people who she once hunted, and yes, killed. In fact, she's had to make more than a few adjustments to go from the hunter, to an ally.

But, without her stigma which gave her strength and quick healing abilities, Elizabeth is basically just a human looking to stay alive. After months of waiting for Elizabeth to fully heal from her injuries, she must face a council inquiry into whether or not she will be allowed to stay in Harrow or be forced to leave. Elizabeth has even made some new friends along the way who have tried to help her against Blackwell and his new army of Revenants, Witches, and Wizards. They include John Raleigh, a healer, and the person now holding Elizabeth's stigma. (If you want to learn more about John, there is a novella called The Healer). The others are Peter, Fife, George, and Schuyler who have come to trust the once Witch Hunter. 

This series is set in alternative history 16th Century England, 1558 to be exact. There are hints that Anglia is actually England, while Gaul, is France. With this being a duology, things move rather quickly from start to finish. Elizabeth has to make choices. She has to decide whether to kill Blackwell on her own, or rely on her new alliances to help defeat his machinations, which include Blackwell's attempt at kidnapping and bringing Elizabeth back to his castle where he now claims to be King of Anglia. Elizabeth is not an overly complex character that we need to tear down and build back up. She was trained for a purpose. She survived deadly trials, and became the best at what being a witch hunter. Yes, she was even the former King Malcolm's mistress.

But, now, without her stigma, she can't hide the fact that she is mortal any longer. She has to train harder than most, and take chances so that she can thwart Blackwell's plans for her. She has to take a chance that her new allies won't stab her in the back at the most inopportune times. She also has to take risks that may be thought of as being reckless, and extremely dangerous to one's health. She also has to forgive herself for her past actions. Had Elizabeth just walked away from the entire thing, I dare say she would have regretted it for the rest of her life. But, above all, she has to make sure that John doesn't succumb to the new power he has in his body. New power that is making him reckless. 

I am pleased at how this story and series ended. I loved that the author brings along even more interesting characters like Keagan Hearn from the Order of the Rose along for the ride. Keagan is a fascinating character who belongs to a resistance group that does hit and run protests against Blackwell and who takes a chance on Elizabeth's determination to go after Blackwell. Keagan and the rest of the Order of the Rose have some pretty brilliant abilities as well. I was surprised, yet not shocked by the Caleb situation. You can never go wrong by tossing in a few heart racing surprises to keep the reader happy. You can also not go wrong by tossing in a mystery that will be shocking to most. If you are waiting for me to speak about the romance, all I can say is that it is pretty apparent in what direction this story was fated. Yes, there are difficult challenges. Yes, one of them is hard headed and needed to be slapped silly. Yet, there's not doubt Elizabeth and John are adorable together.

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