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Burn the Dark

(Malus Domestica #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  318 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Supernatural meets Stranger Things in award-winning author S. A. Hunt’s Burn the Dark, first in the Malus Domestica horror action-adventure series about a punk YouTuber on a mission to bring down witches, one vid at a time.

Robin is a YouTube celebrity gone-viral with her intensely-realistic witch hunter series. But even her millions of followers don't know the truth: her
Paperback, 2nd, 384 pages
Published January 14th 2020 by Tor Books (first published July 20th 2015)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  318 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Chelsea Humphrey
3-3.5 stars

This was a fun and crazy ride! On the whole I enjoyed this, although it did feel like the pacing halted a bit towards the middle, but picked up spectacularly from 70% on. If you enjoy a nice blend of high fantasy and dark urban supernatural (I.E. Buffy-esque storyline), give this one a try!

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing my review copy via NetGalley!
Schizanthus Nerd
“The Red Lord will find you.”
Robin has a mohawk, a cherished fifteen year old stuffed mosquito called Mr. Nosy and a popular YouTube channel called ‘MalusDomestica’. Her subscribers think what they’re watching is fake, but it’s anything but. [If you’re wondering, ‘malus domestica’ is Latin for “the common apple tree”. You’ll learn the significance of this name during the book.]

Robin travels around the country in her van hunting witches. Robin’s father was convicted of killing her mother but
3.5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Malus Domestica, from the kick ass heroine that didn't need a guy to save her to the fact that there was multiple black folks in it. It was a lot of fun to read. I took away some stars because the book got a little too convoluted and unbelievable towards the middle, and yes I say unbelievable even for a fantasy/horror novel. To me any book with supernatural or fantasy elements still has to have some base in facts or, if the facts are made up, they need to be
Jul 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, horror
If you like good books and you aren't reading S.A. Hunt, you're fucking doing it all wrong. Forget the authors that line the aisles of the brick and mortar giants. Read S.A. HUNT. This guy is one of my favorites and this book will not disappoint you. If it does...get back to your Koontz and Patterson. Go back to the kid's table...I'll be over her eating this fucking turkey and green bean casserole like a damned adult!
Matthew Cox
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Malus Domestica by SA Hunt is a masterful tale of supernatural horror told with an ensemble cast. The mythology/setting that he’s created is fantastic, deep, and creepy as all hell. This author has a gift for description that paints vivid (often disturbingly so) images in the mind. One caveat―if you are a cat lover, this book is going to be quite disturbing. Some parts were hard to read.

The description on the jacket makes it sound like Robin is the "main" character, but in the beginning of the
Aug 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've got a lot to say about this one, so for those who don't want to read this whole thing, I'll sum up: this book is really good. Go read it.

Now, more details. First thing I want to say is that, thanks to me winning a little contest on Reddit, there's a character named after me in Malus Domestica. And that character gets brutally murdered, which is AWESOME. My mother didn't seem to appreciate it all that much (philistine), but I love it.

As for the book itself, I'll start with the setting. I
Ashe Armstrong
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Whoo boy, where to start. I was looking forward to reading this one for a long while. Mr. Hunt would post snippets for all of us to gobble up and it just made it worse. And now, here I am, after glow, typing this up for anyone who might want a little more thoughts on why they should read the book. This was one helluva ride. I'm already a fan of Sam's. I've read Outlaw King 1 and 2 and loved them. If you loved those books, the excellence continues here.

There's a pretty big cast of characters in
Romina Nicolaides
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book of truly revolting but thoroughly convincing witches. The scenes are set with extraordinary detail, building a very atmospheric plot of corruptive and enticing magic. The characters were human and at times you wonder if anyone is safe from Cutty and her cronies. Absorbing and entertaining; my only criticism would be the exaggerated use of popular references.
Dylan Hearn
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You have to have some balls to put your work in the same company as Stephen King and Clive Barker (sorry, I’ve not read any Charlaine Harris), either that, or unswerving confidence in your own talent. My guess with S. A. Hunt it’s a bit of both, and in Malus Domestica I can see why. This is an excellent book, with a strong, character-led storyline that’s as unsettling as a childhood nightmare yet twice as entertaining.

A young woman, Robin Martine returns to her hometown, Blackfield, for the
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nightmares of things they saw as children they have forgotten as adults, their recognition stolen by smiling hags with chips of ice in their eyes, hobgoblins who would have stolen their hearts for an ageless star-beast if not for hungry Robin and the gleaming silver dagger in her hand.

I need to finally write this review so this book can go back on its shelf at last; it's been next to my bed for months, to remind myself that I owe it a review.

Actual rating 3,5 stars, but I'm feeling generous, so
Stephanie Embry
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This is hands-down my favorite horror novel since…I’m about to verge on blasphemous here and say since Lost Souls. (Lost Souls is a religious experience, yes.) Guys this book. THIS BOOOOK. I don’t know how Hunt can have such an amazing grip on both the fantastic and the mundane. The real world looks real. The small town, the people, the flies on the wall, the pizza-grease stains on a paper plate…every detail you can name is in 3D technicolor when Hunt is behind the wheel. And yet, while it’s all
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like urban fantasy, but feel like the fact that characters know about magic and monsters takes away some of the fear and power, this book is probably for you. If you're into horror but wish the main characters had a bit more agency, this book is probably for you.

The story opens with Our Heroine, Robin Martine, coming back to her home town. She's been hunting down witches, which very few people know really exist, and posting videos of her exploits on YouTube. The populace thinks she's just
Lilly Raines
Aug 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book pulled me in from the very beginning. I’ve never read a story quite like it, and that’s what hooked me: it felt unique, different in the best way. And it never shied away from being different; it embraced it. The author snapped the reins and said, “Onward, to Differentland!” and I hopped into the sleigh like a giddy little elf, eager to be carried away from a world fill with stale plots and forgettable characters. Malus Domestica offers a fresh take on witches and magic, and a diverse ...more
Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crazy Creepy Cool

This was my first book by S.A. Hunt. After reading this one, I've realized I'm not done with this author. This was pretty cool.

This is a thick, meaty book, full of all sorts of crazy goodness. It's more creepy than scary, but the author has a sense of humor and pulled some genuine laughs out of me (not an easy task). By the way, Afro-cadabra is now a part of my permanent lexicon.

The faint of heart will want to know that this is definitely horror - of the sex, blood and rock and
Jul 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
S.A. Hunt is an incredible talent in writing. Reading this tale is akin to sampling a perfectly aged Bordeaux after being forced to drink boxed red blends for years, it's a bloody epiphany. The pacing is tight and flows smoothly from point to point and character to character. The dialogue is masterful giving each character an incredibly unique voice and tone that is maintained throughout the story and even reflects the individual growth of the character as they progress. The style of writing ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i am not normally a fan of horror but i really enjoyed this book...
i have read all the books in the outlaw king series and became addicted to his wit and quirky style of adding in details that fit with my generation and culture (something hard to find as i am currently living in a different country)...
i really hope that his books can hit the silver screen and that he keeps writing more and more...
i cant wait to travel through his next adventure
Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary | "Empathy" - Look it up.
Full review later but ..

While S.A. Hunt's Malus Domestica is not for everyone, it's a well-told story that quickly hooks you.

The characters are likeable and memorable. The language is a bit coarse, but funny . Some of the scenes would translate wonderfully to the big screen.

I really liked it.
The Artisan Geek
Nov 30, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcase
A sincere thank you to Tor/Forge for gifting me a copy of Burn the Dark :)

You can find me on
Youtube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
Gregory Lynn
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you read a lot of books, you know that some are just different. Some are just a plot, they’re entertaining enough on an airplane, but the characters don’t change much, or really feel like real people. It’s like you’re watching a summer blockbuster movie. It’s fun and all, but you won’t be buying the DVD.

And some are different. They might be a bit harder to read. They might be longer. They might take a little while to get into. They might challenge the way you think. They might do all of these
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Malus Domestica by S.A. Hunt is a tale of revenge, remorse and regret. The story of a young girl in search of the past that was stolen from her and the unveiling of the hidden secrets that will change her world forever.

"...You needs to stop playin. I assume huntin witches means killin witches, and there ain't no way you're videotapin that shit. And I want to talk to you without this camera here. Backstage, so to speak. Off the record. Cause I can tell you just puttin on a show for the people at
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, fantasy, horror
Thanks to the recommendation of a good friend, I discovered S.A. Hunt through his Outlaw King series. Speaking of which, I'll be reading the third installment of that very soon. I wanted to see if I could wait until the fourth installment was released but I simply can't wait any longer. Anyhow, I heard about Hunt's Malus Domestica around the time that I dove into Outlaw King, and recently decided it was finally time to read it; that very same friend and I have been buddy-reading it. And what do ...more
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, queer
What a book! It's been a while since a book has grabbed me like this one. I was a little hesitant to try "horror" but now feel much better about the genre!

First off, a warning: horrible stuff happens to cats. brace yourself. Some of those scenes were REALLY hard to read.

Loved the characters. Hunt did a superb job fleshing them out, and they all seemed very real to me. I really appreciated the diversity of characters, too. I never expected to get teary over a horror story, but there was more than
Hope Sloper
I seriously feel like I should be ripping petals from a flower while professing my love for this novel. As with most of my five-star reviews, I'm at a loss for the right words. I'm not sure why this happens to me. Maybe it's because I have so much I want to say, I can't possibly get it all out.

Let's start with the opening of the book . . .

Not only did it suck me in, but it also knocked my socks off. So much so, I had to do a social media status update to tell the world what just happened. That
Nov 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
Boy, what a see-saw of opinions I had throughout this one.

The good points:
There were some flat out brilliant ideas in this story. S.A. Hunt throws in history, mythology and theology and comes up with a very cool world where real witches exist.

He made me laugh out loud with his sound effects. This was something you'd expect from perhaps a sixth grader but it worked here and it was a silly but fun way to read this.

There were moments where his descriptive prose approached literary greatness. A
Zed Amadeo
Meet Robin, an unusual young woman who stars in her own show on YouTube, the eponymous Malus Domestica, which documents her adventures travelling across the country and killing witches. Sounds like one of those online shows engineered for entertainment. Only Robin's adventures are all too real.

Robin's bizarre exploits were spurred by the murder of her mother, which she claims was the result of witches dabbling in evil magic. She travels back to her hometown, a place that has become filled with
Elizabeth Naranjo
Malus Domestica is categorized as a supernatural horror novel but, like all great books, it defies boundaries. Horror fans certainly won’t be disappointed—there are plenty of gruesome scenes and genuine moments of terror in this tale about a young woman who slaughters witches for a living—but anyone who loves a well-crafted story with multilayered characters and rich, descriptive language should give this book a try.

Hunt shows a lot of respect for his characters and as a reader I deeply
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The blurb for this book sounded like a typical and possibly cliche urban fantasy, but I took a chance on it because a friend said it was good. She was under-exaggerating. This may have been the best urban fantasy I have ever read. Better than Sandman Slim, better than Harry Dresden. The characters seemed so real, so well painted. The scenes were so vivid. Several times I blurted out "holy shit" in public places while reading this, or busted out in maniacal laughter at the airport in response to ...more
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a breath of fresh air. A lot of the urban fantasy books I've read are kind of sameish so it was nice to read something different.
Hunt did a nice job creating his characters. I really loved Wayne and Joel. The magic system was also really well done. The story kind of drags in the beginning and the final confrontation was disappointing but all in all it was a good read.
Horrifying and well written, with interesting bits of witch mythology. I'm not very familiar with the horror genre, but this was a great Halloween read for me. Some of the imagery is definitely going to haunt me for a few days.
Dwayne L.
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You're an inspiration. As a fellow writer, I want to reach your level. Milestones like Malus Domestica and the Outlaw series show me a gulf I've yet to cross. Carry on, Gunslinger!
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Salem Abigail Hunt is the Georgia-born author of the Amazon Top 10 Horror "Malus Domestica" series, and the "Outlaw King" fantasy series.

Salem is non-binary. They accept any pronoun - he/him, they/them, she/her. They currently live in Petoskey, Michigan.

In 2014, the 3rd book in the Outlaw King series was the winner of's /r/Fantasy "Independent Novel of the Year" 2014 Stabby Award. Salem

Other books in the series

Malus Domestica (2 books)
  • I Come with Knives (Malus Domestica #2)
“That term of endearment brought back old, old memories. Robin’s mind flickered with images of herself as a tiny child, sitting in the Lazenbury’s kitchen, eating Chips Ahoy cookies and drinking apple juice, reading the comics out of the Sunday paper or watching ReBoot, Pirates of Dark Water, or Darkwing Duck on the wood-cabinet Magnavox.” 0 likes
“Grandmother Marilyn had a dog back then, a miniature Pinscher named Penny, for the coins of copper fur over his eyes. She loved that dog almost as much as Mr. Nosy.” 0 likes
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