Review: Hunting Witch Hazel by Heather Novak

Reviewed by Sara

Hunting Witch Hazel is the first book in Heather Novak’s Lynch Brothers series and the premise caught my attention right away. Hazel is a witch whose life is in ruins since her father abandoned her family and her mother gave into a dark magic addiction. Now, she is struggling to juggle her mother’s debts, grief over her sister’s death, a full college schedule and a job. Grayson, on the other hand, is a retired witch-hunter who’s back in the game in order to collect Hazel’s magic and save his brother. Problem is, Grayson wants Hazel, but stealing her magic will ensure she never wants anything to do with him again. Grayson’s older brother has given him one week to obtain Hazel’s powers or he’ll do it, and he won’t be nice about it.

Hunting Witch Hazel had a lot of potential, but really fell flat for me.

Hazel’s character is fun, she has a pretty detailed backstory and I could definitely relate to her as an overwhelmed, financially hard-up, working student. (It’s been years since university, but trust me you never really forget the taste of generic ramen.) Grayson’s character, on the other hand, is a (hot) mess. He has barely any backstory and what’s there is pretty vague. I mean, I couldn’t even figure out exactly how old he is. Is he college-aged, like Hazel, or is he in his 30s? I honestly couldn’t tell. Then there are all the other characters (and there’s a ton of them!), they don’t have any real depth or background and some just seem to be there to fill in plot holes. Luna, Hazel’s friend Frank’s girlfriend, for example, is barely mentioned at all in the first 90% of the book, but plays a huge part in ensuring Hazel and Grayson’s happily ever after.

The plot suffers from a similar fate. Parts of it, like Hazel’s past and her current situation, are well explained, but then other parts are rushed and not well-executed at all. Most of the problems arise from a simple lack of information and context. For example, answers to the following questions would have made the plot more coherent: Why is Grayson’s brother being held hostage? Why is Grayson retired? Does everybody know about supernatural creatures and why are there so many of them in a rural, Michigan college town?

The pacing of the story was really awkward too. Imagine pushing a full shopping cart up a hill, it’s slow and arduous and then, you reach the top of the hill and it’s a manic, near free-fall to the bottom, that’s how Hunting Witch Hazel paces. Until about the 75% mark things are moving at a normal to slowish pace and then the last 25% of the story moves at a pace that makes it almost difficult to keep up and there a characters you’ve barely read about, dramatic reveals and several major plot twists.

Sometimes a first book in a series struggles to find its footing; there’s a lot of information to give out and characters to be introduced to. Unfortunately, Hunting Witch Hazel has so much going on that it never seems to find its footing and it left this reader with more questions than answers.

Rating: D-/F

Click to purchase: Amazon

Hunting Witch Hazel
by Heather Novak
Release Date: May 14, 2016

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