Levina C.'s Reviews > Witch Born

Witch Born by Amber Argyle
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Sep 15, 12

liked it
bookshelves: novels, fantasy
Read in September, 2012

I'm not really sure why I read this. Given my less-than-favourable and rather facetious review of the first book, you'd think I'd skip the sequel. But I had a moment of weakness and wanted to retreat into a familiar fictional world, and I'd heard that this had just been released, so I picked it up.

Well, first of all, it's absolutely true what other reviewers (Deborah Andreason, I'm looking at you) have said about needing to have the previous book fresh in your mind when you read this one. I've haven't read Witch Song in years, and found myself struggling to remember details from it, because Witch Born is built on and expands on the events from the first book. It's almost like Witch Song was the introduction to the series and this is the main text. It really helps if you remember what happened in Witch Song as you read its sequel because it'll enrich your experience with it.

This book is in the minority because it's a sequel that succeeds in emulating the first book in its series. Instead of having the same plot style of Witch Song, in which Brusenna is a contestant in a race-to-the-finish against time, Witch Born is built like a thriller or a mystery, with Brusenna slowly unravelling the truth behind the history of her home, Haven, as well as the truth about the Witches. Just in time, so it seems, because Haven's past enemies come back to bite it in the behind. It ups the ante and scale of the danger of the first book, to the point where it's almost trying too hard to seem epic. Almost. It's the same kind of thing we saw in the final book of HP, though, so I won't say it was overfervent.

However, the writing's still lackluster, and Brusenna and her love interest are still boring as hell. Interesting thing I noticed from the latter half of the book, in a scene that takes place in a secret city -

"The air smelled of savory herbs, sweet flowers, and dry mountain air."

Do you see the problem with this? According to this sentence, the air in this particular city smells like...air. The air smells like air. THE AIR SMELLS LIKE AIR. I don't care what "kind" of air it might be, AIR CANNOT SMELL LIKE AIR, BECAUSE AIR DOES NOT HAVE A SMELL.

And - excuse me for being a bit of a musical pedant, but -

"The differences between their voices were immediately apparent. Senna's soprano soared and the whole world seemed to still, as if listening. Mistin's alto was like the creaking of old wood."

"Drenelle was in the center, singing in her rich alto which sounded much better than her speaking voice. "

It sounds like the author is referring to 'alto' in the same vein as as she is 'soprano voice.' Now, I know the standard arrangement for choral pieces is SATB, denoting soprano, alto, tenor and bass parts, and that soprano, tenor and bass are all voice types, but ALTO IS NOT A VOICE TYPE. It's a specific range of notes in a choir that is meant for female voices. Most altos' voice types are, in fact, mezzo-sopranos (which, are, respectively, the range in between soprano, the highest of female voices, and contralto, the lowest. I'm a trained vocalist, an alto, and a mezzo-soprano; trust me on this one.)

Anyway, this seems to be one of those cases that are becoming more and more frequent - the instances where I look around at other people's reviews on a book and everyone except for me is gushing about how amazing it is. Which raises the question of what I see differently in it. Well,

The good in this book
-It's exciting and full of adventure and danger
-It has a strong female lead
-The romance and everything else is clean; no swearing or innuendo
-There's an interesting and original magical system

The detractors that no one seems to agree with me on
-Senna and Joshen are bland and utterly nondescript as characters
-They match the quality of the writing
-Fantasy tropes I've seen in other places, but done better

My conclusion is that if you liked the first book, you'll probably like this one just as much, if not more, because it has much of the same qualities of the first, except refined a bit. I personally didn't like it that much, but then, as I've said before, me not liking something doesn't necessarily mean it's bad.

It was better than Witch Song, though, and since I gave Witch Song two stars, I'll give this one three.

This review and more can be found on my new blog, which can be found here
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