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Darkest Soul #1

Between the Shadow and the Soul

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21st Century Cologne
On the day of her sixteenth birthday Nela receives her Binding – a tattoo that’ll punish even the thought of magic with burning pain. In a world where the Brotherhood still burns witches at the stake, Nela has learned to fear her magical powers. But her powers are growing and refuse to be ignored. When Nela meets Darko, he shows her a hidden world of magic she can’t resist.

Darko hates the Brotherhood with blind fervor for destroying his life. Except for revenge, there’s only one thing that keeps him going: the wish to bring his dead sister back to life. The only way to gain the necessary power is by summoning a demon with the help of a Necromancer and absorbing its demonic power. When his Master tells Darko that Nela is what they need for the ritual, Darko doesn’t hesitate to gain her trust. A trust he’ll have to betray.

As Nela meets witches in the underground bars of Cologne and celebrates Walpurgisnight with magical folk from all over the world, she realizes that she doesn’t want to bow to the Brotherhood’s rules anymore. She wants to be free to live as a witch. Defying the Brotherhood could mean death by fire, but as Nela is pulled deeper into Darko’s world, she realizes that his darkness might be the true danger.

360 pages, Kindle Edition

First published December 1, 2014

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About the author

Susanne Winnacker

5 books544 followers
Susanne Winnacker studied law before she became a full-time writer. She loves coffee (in every shape and form), traveling and animals.

Her YA thriller IMPOSTOR will be published on May 28, 2013. It has been optioned for TV by Warner Brothers!
I don't read messages on Goodreads. If you want to contact me, please send me an email to this address: books(at)susannewinnacker(dot)com
Here's my official Facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/SusanneWinna...

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25 (46%)
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Displaying 1 - 5 of 5 reviews
Profile Image for Nastassja.
423 reviews1,011 followers
August 10, 2015
Between the shadow and the soul was on my to read list for a while. I don't know why I didn't read it sooner but it definitely wasn't because of the low ratings and fewer reviews on goodreads. Nope, I guess I just thought this book will be like "girl meets boy" scenario and I've read a tons of books like this and wanted something more. But this book turned out to be more or almost more. Yes, there's indeed a girl who meets a boy but there's no insta love and though the romance part is present it is not rules the plot of the book entirely.

We have a very dark dystopian world which resembles our modern only with a few changes (not good ones). MC Nela lives with her parents in Colonge, Germany. She is a witch but witchcraft of any form is forbidden by the Brotherhood ( they control witches), and so at the age of 16 every girl-witch or boy-witch are marked with a magic (ironic) tattoo that prevents them from doing magic - this tattoo spreads poison every time a witch or a mage presents magic and eventually this poison will kill them.

Two priests walked up to Grand Master Claudius, one of them carrying a silver tray with the needle, the other a cup with the ink. It was dark red – since it contained actual blood from the witch that had worked magic on it as well as holy water and permanent ink with traces of iron. With every act of magic, the tattoo would spread like the strands of a spider’s web across her back and iron would be released into her skin, would be absorbed by her organs, and would slowly, with every breach of the law, poison her body. She would die of organ failure if she were lucky – or the expanded tattoo would betray her to the Brotherhood.

Not a very pleasant perspective. The book starts very darkly with this ritual of making tattoos and introduces us to our first MC Nela, then gradually we are presented with our second MC Darko
It was a guy, only a couple of years older than her, with impossibly dark eyes. She could barely make out his pupils; his irises were too dark. He was dressed in a long black coat, his black hair shaggy.

who performs his own dark ritual only with killing a human and extracting a heart from the dead body.
Slowly Darko pulled his arm back, through cooling flesh until his hand left the man’s ribcage with a creak from the bones, the still beating heart clutched in his fingers.

Darko is not a good person, has no illusion about him. He embraced darkness a long time ago when he lost his family and now he wants only revenge against the Brotherhood. He is working for a Master, who is a more powerful mage and Darko wants to help his Master to summon a demon who will help them to destroy the brotherhood, but to accomplish this task they need a necromancer - someone who can raise dead, and it turns out Nela is the right person for their purpose, only she doesn't know it yet. Darko's task is to meet her and to convince her to help. But what Darko will not tell Nela is that she is not supposed to survive the ritual of demon summoning.

The plot development was quiet interesting, I really was intrigued by what is going to happen to MCs. The world building was detailed, I was informed about this world and it's history through out the book, it didn't feel like I missed something about the world around. But I also felt this nagging sadness everywhere, how everyone was afraid and people turned each other out of fear - witch or not. The language was pleasant and I enjoyed it enough. There was humor but mostly this book is pretty dark and cruel.

He raised the knife and swung it down. With sickening crunch, he severed the cat’s head from its body. The last meow died away and the cat lay still. The knife stuck in the wooden floor. Blood pooled around the lifeless body of the cat, trickled into the gaps between the floorboards.

This is a book about witches and here we indeed have magic and spells and I felt like really reading about the witches and compared to another book I recently read and was highly disappointed - this one was way better.

But this book has flaws. I'd say that there was maybe too much despair and sometimes I was overwhelmed with it and didn't want to continue reading, maybe you need to be in a darker mood before starting this book. Also, the pace was too slow sometimes, I wanted more liveliness, it felt like characters and at times everything felt lifeless around me. I'd say I wanted more character from MC (sorry for calambur). Summing up all this book has, it could be a masterpiece if added a little of this and that, it needs more development and more detail in characters but I didn't disliked Nela and Darko - I just saw the potential for them to be amazing.

Overall, the concept of this book is very promising but a little bit underdeveloped. It was still quite interesting to read this story. Characters were nice and did not annoy me most of the time. The romance was good and hot sometimes, I'd like more Nela and Darko together. The language was pleasant and the world building was pretty detailed. The mood of the book was very dark but I felt like really reading a book about witches (more Salem tv-show style). Yes,this book is not perfect but I hope more people will read it, because it has a great potential and ended with a promising cliffhanger, and the second book may very likely turned out to be more developed, because as we know it is not the first time when the second book is better.

So if you are in a darker mood and want to read about witches - this book definitely wouldn't be a bad choice for you.

Profile Image for Rachel.
344 reviews11 followers
February 19, 2015

The problem with Between the Shadow and the Soul is not really its plot or its characters or its ideas or its cover.
I mean, just look at that cover. It's one of the few "photo of pretty girl standing around" covers I actually like and that is some A+ composition.

And the premise, where modern day witches are still hunted and persecuted and literally burned at the stake for their witchery, is interesting and well developed and thought-out.

And Nela is a complex heroine who is allowed to be angry, allowed to be dark, and allowed to be dangerous, but who is also unapologetically still a teenaged girl.
And Darko, despite his stupid fucking name, is a comparably well-done "bad boy" support without falling into sexist, misogynistic bad boy tropes.

So overall, BtSatS seems set-up to be a fairly entertaining read, yes?


Because the writing is so, so, so very poor.

I haven't read any of Winnacker's other books, but if they're written like this one I'm not sure if I could force my way through them. The only reason this one isn't a DNF is because I fuckin love witches and magic and implanting historical practices and ideas into a modern setting. I also really loved the ideas Winnacker had, at a basal level, and how she handled her characters.

But she is such an awful writer. I hate to say it, because her ideas were pretty on-point here. But her writing is so... juvenile, I guess, and bland and just bad. There's no finesse or craft to it. She literally just tells you what's happening in the most simplistic way possible. It's just a whole lot of tell and no show.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if someone told me that English isn't her first language (is it? I know she lives in Germany, but is she German?)
If so, then the writing is way more forgivable. If not, then girl needs to work on that shit because if her writing could step-up to the level of her imagination, I'd probably add her to my Auto-Buy list.

But yeah. This is like Alyxandra Harvey's Lovegrove Legacy.
Same issues (good ideas, poor writing), though even more extreme and grating here.
Profile Image for Serena.
525 reviews
January 9, 2015
This was really eh for me. I think it had a lot of potential, but it just fell short. The premise was so interesting - a modern world where witches are condemned and a witch who turns out to be a necromancer - but the book was kind of messy and all over the place. It was okay, but it could have been much more. Maybe it just wasn't a me book.

Thanks to the author for providing a book in exchange for an honest review!
Profile Image for Ari.
940 reviews1,314 followers
Want to read
December 9, 2014
Cover love, cover love, cover love. Did you notice how many books did I add based on the cover alone? And they say not to judge a book based on the cover, huh? Well, the first look definitely counts!
Profile Image for Mycoton32.
4,561 reviews74 followers
December 27, 2014
En bref, un premier tome qui pose un monde vraiment très intrigant et des personnages ni tout noir ni tout blanc. On ne sait jamais de quel côté va basculer l'histoire et si Nela et Darko arriveront à dépasser leurs préjugés et leurs attentes pour comprendre ce que l'avenir leur réserve. Je suis curieuse de lire la suite et de voir dans quels mondes l'auteur nous entraine étant donné le mot de la fin...

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