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Fantasy Review – The Mist-Torn Witches

The Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee

Review by Cyndi J. (cyndij)

THE MIST-TORN WITCHES by Barb Hendee is the first in a fantasy series.  Two orphaned sisters, Celine and Amelie, are barely scraping by running an apothecary shop.  When someone comes in wanting their fortune told, Celine decides she can fake her mother’s gift well enough to pass as a seer.  Pretending to be a fortune teller works pretty well until she has an actual vision. Unfortunately the vision is the death of a young woman who is supposed to be marrying the brutal Prince Damek, and his minions have already threatened Celine if she doesn’t tell the woman to marry. Celine can’t bring herself to do it, and within hours she and her sister are on the run, finding protection in the realm of Damek’s younger brother, Prince Anton.

Prince Anton needs Celine’s skills too – the bizarre deaths of four young women with no clues to what happened. They need answers. Anton and his advisors figure if they know who’s fated to die next, they can set a trap for the killer, and so they need a seer who can point out the next victim.  What they didn’t know is that the killer can seemingly walk through walls and disappear without a trace.  Celine is more than distraught as her vision seemingly put the girl where she would die.  If only Celine could alter the conditions, she feels her visions can’t come true, but it won’t be that easy.

Along with all this come enigmatic hints of their ancestry from one of the servants. She’s telling them that Celine and Amelie together are the “future and the past”, but Amelie doesn’t have powers…does she?

I found this an engaging YA fantasy with romance potential, with one small scene that might not be suitable for the younger end of YA.  The writing style is very basic – to me, it rather stomps along, with very little to capture the imagination.  Nothing too exciting about the world either, it’s a standard quasi-medieval setting, and as a long-time mystery/fantasy reader I found the villain, the motive, and the murder method to be obvious very early.  For a YA reader, it would probably be harder to guess.

But nonetheless, I quite liked it. I like the two sisters (wondering though how Amelie learned how to gamble), I liked that some of the “good” guys have flaws, and I liked the contrast between the mist-torn witches and the kettle witches. Plus I’ve always liked stories that have herbal medicines and apothecaries, perhaps there will be more of that in the other books.  So I’m interested enough to find the next in the series.



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