Joint Review: American Witch by Thea Harrison

Reviewed by Jen & Sara

Jen: I am such a big fan of Thea Harrison and her Elder Races series. This is the first book in a new trilogy set in that world and even if you’ve never read one of Harrison’s books before, you can easily jump in here. As made obvious by the title, this trilogy focuses on witches, particularly one who is just coming into her powers.

First of all, I love that Molly is an older heroine. She’s around 40 years old and her magical awakening comes due to a major disaster in her life rather than reaching a particular age. That being said, at the beginning, she is still a somewhat naïve and sheltered woman. She has essentially built her life around being the perfect wife for her husband and that made her a little difficult for me to relate to. I mean, I know women like this exist in the world, but in some ways, she was as much of a clean slate as a 21-year-old coming into her power.

The hero is Josiah, a seasoned witch who is in Atlanta under an assumed identity, working with the coven he has assembled to take down the man who imprisoned him many years ago and stole some of his power. Josiah comes upon Molly accidentally. He’s there when she comes into her magic, at a party where she confronts her husband for an affair, and realizes he needs to help her learn to control her gifts so his quarry is not aware of other witches around him.

These two start off as reluctant allies, with no desire to really even like each other, but it evolves into an attraction neither can ignore and eventually deeper feelings present themselves.

I had a hard time connecting to this book. Part of it was Molly, maybe. Or perhaps it’s more fair to say, early Molly. Because she does grow into a stronger woman. I appreciate she comes to put herself and her needs first. But here’s the thing. I felt like this book was a lot more about Molly than about the romance between her and Josiah. He is definitely more like a supporting character than a co-lead, at least to me. She’s got to learn about her powers and she goes on a journey and finds a mentor. And honestly, so much of the book is spent with these two apart. They text each other. They think about each other. Time passes in chunks.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t feel them falling in love. Things happen. Molly’s life changes. I guess, Josiah’s life changes in the end, too. But I never felt the need or angst or burn. The love scenes are good, of course, because Harrison is great at that. Generally, I think she’s pretty great at everything. But this book was just OK for me. I didn’t love the beginning and I didn’t love the end. Because while there is an ending, the main conflict is unresolved and the last chapter covered several months in something like a summary. 

Am I being unfair? Sara? I don’t want to be, because I’m a fan of the author. I just wish I had more excitement for this one.

Sara: I don’t think you’re being unfair at all.

Like you, I also had a hard time connecting to Molly. Her backstory is basically that of a Stepford Wife with an overbearing mother and a cheating husband, who’s just going through the motions. She has few friendships and has no real life skills. I don’t dislike her and when she comes into her Power it’s pretty cool and I also thought was cool that she was in her 40s and not a young ingenue, but really until she connected to her mentor she wasn’t really all that interesting or relatable.

Josiah’s character fell flat for me too. He’s a completely, self-serving dick in the first part of the book, but comes around after falling in love with Molly. After Josiah’s change of heart, he quickly, after decades of planning, decides to drop the grand scheme o’ revenge he’s put into action with his coven, all who’ve also been victimized by the bad guy, to commit to Molly. It didn’t make sense to me and just looked like Josiah was trading one obsession (revenge) for another (Molly and/or Molly’s power).

The pacing was also off for me. Certain things felt like they moved too fast and without enough feeling or detail to make them meaningful, like Molly and Josiah’s romance and the relationship between Molly and her mother. On the other hand, other parts of the story moved too slowly, like Molly finding her mentor and honing her skills. The timing was weird too, some parts of the book that were days long took place over several chapters and other times weeks were played out in a single chapter. It was clunky.

Then there was the villain. I was super excited about this villain. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of Pre-Revolution Russian history can easily figure out who villain of American Witch was, and as a history nerd I was really looking forward to discovering how this character fit into the world Thea Harrison had created. Unfortunately, aside from stories from Josiah’s past and a quick and deadly showdown at the book’s end, there’s very little of the actual villain in the story. In fact the villains appearance at the book’s end was almost anticlimactic.

I had high hopes for American Witch based on Thea Harrison’s other books, the book’s dramatic opening and because of the (potentially) super cool villain.  Unfortunately, I found the characters flat, the plot and pacing disjointed and the conflict with the villain a bit of a let down.

I’m going to go reread Dragon Bound.

Jen’s Rating: B-/C+

Sara’s Rating: C

*ARC provided by author

Click to purchase: Amazon

American Witch
by Thea Harrison
Release Date: April 29, 2019

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