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(Ashen Torment #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  409 ratings  ·  88 reviews
From celebrated YA author Den Patrick comes WITCHSIGN, the first novel in a fresh and exciting new fantasy trilogy

It has been seventy-five years since the dragons' rule of fire and arcane magic over Vinkerveld was ended, and the Empire was born. Since, the tyrannical Synod has worked hard to banish all manifestations of the arcane across the lands.

However, children are
Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published May 22nd 2018 by HarperVoyager
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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 ·  409 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, 2018-reads, arc
An engaging introduction to a very promising series!

‘What if Harry Potter was sent to Russian Hogwarts only to find out he was a Muggle?’

The answer to this bizarre question is given in a most elaborate and gripping manner by Den Patrick in his new series, The Ashen Torment. Witchsign follows the stories of two siblings, Steiner and Kjellrunn, who live in a godforsaken province of the Scorched Republics. The dragons are long dead, but the Solmindre Empire looms over the continent threatening,
Robin Hobb
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Robin by: Publisher
As always, the honesty post: I received this book free as an Advance Reading Copy from the publisher. I haven't met Den Patrick.

I just really liked this book.
I felt like Den Patrick's only agenda was to tell a really good story, and he did it well. He writes convincingly of life in a harsh environment, one made even grimmer by a repressive government. He writes convincingly of an older brother both annoyed and dismayed by his sister's inability or lack of desire to conceal that she is different,
Mike Everest Evans
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Full review originally featured on The Fantasy Hive:

The Good: Fantastic concepts, especially in terms of world building and history. Strong themes from start to finish, with shock reveals along the way.

The Bad: While Witchsign got off to a cracking start, I felt that the pace slowed in the middle, though it quickened to breakneck speed in the last 10%. Additionally, I felt some of the one-liners were unneeded, but I won’t hold that against the story, which I really
Bookish Penguin
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 06-june
Excuse me but why have only 246 people on Goodreads read this? Are you okay folks? Well I hope okay enough to order this gem. That's really something quite unique and dark. I understand if some of you are afraid because of the caption but well what a classic example it is where the caption literally doesn't give anything away.
Great characters and a very splendid writing are awaiting you!
You like settings in the north? Yeah that's for you.
And it's dark. I know I have said it but it really has
Annemieke / A Dance with Books
Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins Uk for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This in no way changes my opinion on the book.

With a title as Witchsign and a series title of Ashen Torment I was incredibly hopeful that this was going to be great series right up my alley. Unfortunately this was not the case. Not even the addition of dragons could save this for me.

Withsign is told in dual perspective between the two siblings Steiner and Kjelrunn. The story is set in a
Jane Kelsey
Jan 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3-stars
Very slow paced and too much talking and less doing. Not quite my cup of tea to be fair, but it was ok.
Awais Khan
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Unputdownable! I've never really been a reader of fantasy, perhaps due to the fact that a lot of the stuff I read never lived up to expectations, but after reading Witchsign, I have to say, I'm sold! What an absolutely brilliant book. I literally couldn't read fast enough. Each character is so well drawn and Den Patrick describes the world he's created perfectly. He gives enough for the reader to create a picture in their mind, but not too much as to spoil the compelling pace of the story. ...more
Edward Cox
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Den Patrick is back with style. After the success of the Erebus Sequence, he weighs in with Witchsign, the first book in the Ashen Torment. It's full of intrigue and mystery, magic and action, and here be dragons! Great world, great story, great characters, Witchsign is a fantasy adventure that you need to add to your reading list.
Anna Stephens
Feb 27, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars.
A strong and interesting new YA fantasy with enough mysteries to keep me turning the pages. Magic, dragons, heroes and witches, there's a lot to like in Witchsign and some real villains to rail against.
Good stuff!
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Erebus Sequence is an excellent trilogy, each book better than the last. The faux Renaissance setting, exciting plot and the memorable characters made The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, The Boy Who Wept Blood and The Girl on the Liar’s Throne all first rate reads. When I was offered the opportunity to read the first book in Den Patrick’s new series, The Ashen Torment, I jumped at the chance.

In Vinkerveld, the arcane is viewed with distrust. The Emperor and his Synod ensure every child is
Fleur (FranklyBooks)
Ashen Torment. Doesn't that sound just sublime? I'll definitely be looking out for this on the shelves sometime soon.
Alyssa Grace
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Sick of every fantasy protagonist being the Chosen One? Witchsign is the book for you. Den Patrick's Steiner Vartiainen is a scrappy blacksmith's son looked down on for his illiteracy. The best part of it is that after I feared that the other shoe would drop the whole novel, he never receives the magical destined legacy that eventually relieved everyone from Luke Skywalker to Jon Snow of their humble origins. No, Steiner is a nobody (at least for now), and that doesn't make him any less of a ...more
Jun 01, 2018 rated it liked it
More like 3.5 stars. I’ll have to go back to not reading blurbs as I enjoy books more when I don't have set plot expectations for them.

Witchsign had a cool concept and I felt was fun but it failed to pull me in as I expected to read something a little different. The only really negative thing I have to say about it is that by about halfway through the characters started feeling a little safe and flat and that made my interest slip. That said, I probably would have loved this in my earlier
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasia, in-english
1,5 stars, rounded up to two. Oh boy, what to say about this one. The back cover made me laugh, because I saw that the main character's last name was Vartiainen. It's a common finnish surname, so it was hard to take the names seriously from then on, especially when that was the only finnish last name in the book, so it seemed very random. The mixing of the languages in general really bothered me. The basic names were a combination of Swedish, Norwegian and Russian, plus a bit of German and ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
The masked Vigilants come for the children with Witchsign, taken from their homes and family, they are never seen again.
I loved the Erebus Sequence and was looking forward to reading Witchsign, the first book of The Ashen series and I wasn't disappointed. It has all the right elements that make a good fantasy story; folklore, magic and lots of interesting characters - my favourites were Silverdust and Tief, I also really liked the Cinderwraiths - Ohhh and there's Dragons.
I will definitely be
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
This books has dragons in it. That is all! Seriously I loved the characters in this book. It’s one of the things that had me really interested. Also the whole premise of Witchsign and the magic system was quite interesting.
Iryna KL
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, favorites
4.5 - full review to come
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Marc Morris
Jun 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the first books in a long time I have been looking for time to read sneaking 5mins here and 5 mins there as I was hooked after first few chapters.

This is definitely what YA fantasy should be like as it has qualities that many would love and is a great taste of what is out there fantasy wise once those YA develop are love of fantasy.
There is few original ideas in here and it’s a age old young boy becomes a heroic man and champion of others in a time of need . Other become a trained
A compelling coming of age fantasy tale for young adults, and it is pretty much on the level of David Edding's The Belgariad, Vol. 1: Pawn of Prophecy / Queen of Sorcery / Magician's Gambit, but with a more twisted and grim take on the tropes we are familiar with. Simply speaking, this book will resonate with the YA readers who want to read fantasy with a sense of adventure for a change. Also, the novel explores the themes of oppression, colonialism, and slavery which will find a voice among the ...more
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this book, I got the audio version and the narrator did a good job so that helped. Many audio books fail due to the narrator.
We find our selfs in the town of Cinderfell and family's are gearing up for the arrival of Vigilants to discover witchsign in children, lost arcane powers of dragons.
We are introduced to Steiner and his younger sister Kjellrunn, on what would be Kjellrunn's last arcane check, which she is dreading, something goes wrong and
Chantal Lyons
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it
In spite of an intriguing opening, I steadily grew more and more bored with this book, and the final 70 pages are the only reason this isn't a two star review.

I haven't read the author's previous series but I've heard a lot of good things about it, and honestly, I expected this book to be better written. I think one of the main reasons the book doesn't work for me is that it isn't sure of its own tone - it teeters awkwardly between grimdark and children's fairytale. The characters have an
No One
Jun 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm going to write this review in sections to make it easier for me to rant


I felt absolutely no attachment or love for the characters. I still don't know what they look like as there was no description of them at all. Their relationships were never regarded in anyway and were intentionally forced, I couldn't feel any emotions that the characters were feeling or any connection.


The plot was interesting enough but got boring after a while. I realised that there was only going to be
Nicole Sweeney
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Review originally posted on The Bibliophile Chronicles.

I really loved Den Patrick's The Erebus Sequence so I was really excited to pick up a copy of this brilliant sounding book. The cover is just gorgeous and it sounds like a captivating story. Witchsign is the kind of book that you want to read all the time, squeezing in a chapter on the commute, on a lunch break and any other possible time.

I adored the world of Witchsign. Patrick creates a really fascinating world and the bleak and desolate
Angela Smith
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked the story a lot more than I expected to. Some of other people's reviews maybe lowered my expectations. However I rather liked it. It had the fantasy elements that appeal to me with magic and dragons and folklore.

Anyone who has the taint of the Witchsign is spirited away and never heard of again. Most think it's a death sentence to be discovered with it. In the village of Cinderfell no one has had it in years but the blacksmiths daughter seems about to change that. Kjellrunn is a bit of
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
'Any great country that has to kill its own people to remain great is missing the point.' Steiner p335

Immensely readable adult/teen crossover fantasy novel set in world where a relatively new empire is building and testing its reach with a heavy hand. A hand in chainmail, backed by masked sorceries, that has already purge the land of arcane powered species such as dragons and now turns to capturing all children who show signs of magic, regardless of whether their country belongs to the empire or
May 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
Boy this was a slog. One dimensional cardboard cut-out characters with no arc to them. Uninspired events in a bland setting. Dull and poorly defined hand-wavy magic. Deus ex machina left, right and center. Reasonable pacing, but tired and bland writing style.
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recommend
Witchsign is a tale of two siblings; Steiner and Kjellrunn. Steiner has always had an inkling that his sister had witchsign, but he never knew or sure, until an attempt by his father to keep Kjellrunn safe ends up sending Steiner to a place far from home where people like him are killed for the simple act of knowing things they shouldn't.

The story is set in a Scandinavian expired world. Each year until the age of sixteen, children are tested to see if they have witchsign. If by some unfortunate
Trish Leggat
Sep 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Witchsign is Book 1 of a potential trilogy called The Ashen Torment. We meet and follow brother and sister Steiner and Kjellrunn in this fantasy tale about siblings who fight for each other in every imaginable way, a tale full of lies and adventures. The siblings live with their father, a smith who lives a simple life in his forge and the local tavern. Kjellrunn is an odd child who has no friends. She is protected by her older brother Steiner. They live in the province of the Scorched Republics ...more
Book Gannet
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This book was slow to get going as it builds up to it’s inverted-Hunger Games moment (not so much “I volunteer!” as “You will sacrifice yourself for your sister”). With a vaguely Scandinavian/Northern European setting, it pits the dark Empire against ordinary folk with cruel, child-stealing rituals and banned magic for mysterious and often nefarious reasons. It’s quite dark (literally with all that soot and being underground most of the time) and grim in its outlook, with very little hope, but ...more
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Den Patrick is originally from Dorset and lives in London. His first three books for Gollancz, the War Fighting Manuals, were released in the autumn of 2013.
The Boy with the Porcelain Blade was nominated for the British Fantasy Newcomer award and forms the first book in the The Erebus Sequence. The Boy Who Wept Blood and The Girl on the Liar's Throne complete this trilogy of Gothic Fantasy

Other books in the series

Ashen Torment (3 books)
  • Stormtide (Ashen Torment #2)
  • Untitled (Ashen Torment, #3)