Recommended Age: 18+
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Tags: crime, disguise, magic, religion, royalty, sisters
- Mature violence: physical fights resulting in injury and death, including details of torture.
- Mature sexuality: kissing, allusions to sexuality, one brief sexual encounter.
- Mature language: swearing, F bombs, sexist commentary, threats.
Lou has left the safety of her home to live freely as she pleases in a city, but that city is full of witch hunters whose sole purpose is to hunt and burn women like her. She has to learn to conceal her abilities, all while stealing and lying to survive. Leaving her past behind, Lou is no stranger to doing whatever it takes to survive. But then she gets tangled in an unexpected marriage to a Chasseur, someone who is decidedly against magic, witches, and (though he doesn’t realize it) his own wife.
Lou has more enemies than she can keep track of, so maybe the protection of the Church isn’t unwelcome, even if she has to bury her secrets even deeper if she’s going to make it out of this alive.
This is not your typical witch hunting plot line of young girls hiding their witchy powers from old men who use religion as an excuse for sexism, discrimination, and torture. Both the Church and the witch covens have mixed intentions, which becomes more and more apparent as Lou reluctantly reveals more about her past, while also discovering secrets she was never prepared for.
Lou is fun and sassy and wild, and an overall satisfying protagonist. Her determination to move past the trauma in her past and focus only on keeping herself alive and away from her enemies leads to a very impulsive and reckless life, the very opposite of the life of a Chasseur of the Church. But what she and Reid do have in common is their ability to see their own flaws. Though Reid is more diligent about overcoming his shortcomings, Lou usually just manages to feel genuinely remorseful for how her mistakes and how her life has turned out, though she does not apologize for prioritizing her own survival.
Lou’s marriage to Reid is sudden and unexpected, but certainly does not speed up any part of their relationship. Lou is prickly and independent and completely incapable of trusting anyone quickly, much less someone sworn to kill anyone like her. Reid has been raised with a strict code of obedience and service, and his pub singing, mustache wearing wife with her sympathy towards magical creatures and habit of giggling through church completely baffles him. Their slow burn romance throughout this book shows that maybe opposites do attract, and sometimes it’s possible to trust people who were once your enemy.
Lou and Reid are not the only notable characters. Reid’s awkward, earnest soldier in training is absolutely adorable, especially his crush on Lou’s witchy friend who somehow manages to keep Lou (mostly) out of trouble. The head of both the Church and the witches are both equally formidable, though in very different ways. There’s some interesting backstory, especially when Lou reveals more about her upbringing in a witch coven. The city of Cesarine feels charmingly French and the vivid imagery helps set the scene for this magical tale of unlikely allies.
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