Review: James Clemens – Wit’ch Fire

Wit’ch Fire
James Clemens
Wit’ch Fire is part of The Banned and the Banished Chronicles. First we follow Elena, who is coming into her womanhood, then we add a dark magician, an un-aging man, a werewolf and an og’re to the cast – all with likely important roles. There are plenty of characters to follow – it’s a pity that the book didn’t live up to my expectations at all.

First off, I love the prologue/foreword. It describes almost exactly how I feel about studying texts at a university – it takes all the fun out of it! It also serves to draw the reader subtly into thinking that they too are being initiated into the secrets.

The initial chapter appears forced, and didn’t draw me into the book. I persevered however, unwilling to give up this early. I know from experience that often authors seem to have a problem with the first couple of chapters, and then the narrative grows in strength.
I tried to keep persevering in this book, but it just didn’t grab me. I felt like Clemens didn’t leave enough time for me to get to know each character, and the plot was also lacking. It went from having 3 characters, to suddenly getting more and more and more. As a first book in a series, it’s understandable that Clemens is setting up everything he will need in the next couple of books, but I’d still like to see more plot movement (rather than just giving me more characters to keep track of).
The title of this book irritates me as well. Seriously, what extra meaning does an apostrophe give? There are plenty of different ways in which magic/witches have been presented in the past that no longer fit with the original concept of magic (if there is such a thing). By the time I got to el’ves, rock’goblins and og’res, I was really unimpressed.
Because I was having second thoughts about the book, and was very disillusioned, about half-way through reading I decided to google the author to give me a bit more information about what I was reading. The knowledge that this book is the first in a 5 book series was not comforting – even if I pushed through to the end I might not get a satisfactory ending. Also, Clemens also writes thrillers under another name James Rollins. This further showed to me why I found the style of this book not to my liking. I’m not fond of thrillers, and I think regardless of whether his pen name is different or not, the style is probably carrying through.
I’m looking for something to like about this book. The concept of magic as ‘Chi’ reminds me of Chinese therapeutic medicine, but the usage here is not the same. What I garnered was that Chi is a type of blood magic (different to dark magic) where the user stores his/her power in his dominant hand in the form of a red stain. As they use up their magic, the stain gets less. It is an interesting concept, and I’m glad he came up with something really original. It doesn’t save the novel for me though.

I got through 190 pages of 496 before I almost gave up. I have plenty of other things I would prefer to read, or have waiting on my shelves to be read for the first time. It felt too much like cheating to give up though… A quick look at the last couple of pages reveals another couple of characters that I haven’t met yet, and also a cliffhanger to the next book. However, I decided I had to keep going. And perhaps it was a good thing I did! All the different character strains came together, and there was a type of final showdown. I still lacked a personal connection to the characters though, and that leaves me not wanting to buy any more of the books in this series. I felt sorry for Elena, but that was it. I don’t think I would care if she died. Even the language choices such as her uncle Bol calling her ‘Honey’ just jarred for me and I couldn’t accept it. Things that should have been subtle, and shown to me were just stated. Not the type of book for me.

If I had to suggest an age group for this novel, I would say adults only, because it is filled with blood, guts and people dying for no reason left, right and centre! I wouldn’t recommend this book. I picked it up as part of a 3 for $15 deal a number of years ago, and I now see why it was in that stack. If you do feel compelled to read it (I’m not sure why you would, after reading my disillusioned review), you’re welcome to have my copy!

Find it on:
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Alternatively contact me about a book swap.1star

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