Having witnessed his parents being killed by a dark witch, Luke hopes to join the Malleus Maleficoruma, the brotherhood of men who dedicate their lives to hunting witches. Alongside a number of trials including self-inflicted wounds as an initiation, he must select a name from a book at random and has one month to kill the witch it lands on. Either he kills them in time, or he dies.
His fated choice is 16-year-old Rosamund Greenwood. The plan is for him to infiltrate the family as a stable-hand and seize the opportunity to kill her and return victorious, meaning he has all the time in his future to find and kill the witch who attacked his parents. It’s a simple task.
At its base, it has potential. It’s very old fashioned, which is a refreshing change in a mass of modern young adult novels, with female witches aiming to marry well and have a family, and it had its own charm. After one chapter with Rosa, however, and it’s clear to see her character is different from the horrible, evil creatures Luke believes them to be. She’s trapped in her home, being emotionally forced into marrying Sebastian, who comes from a rich family who would alleviate all of the family’s struggles. She wants to fight, wants to make her own way, and her defiance makes her immediately likeable.
And the moment those details lock in, as well as her fiery beauty and personal strength there’s a predictable tone to the plot and, even with a few bumps along the way, that instinct proved completely accurate.
The details are good, with witches having their own individual colours, and the Knyvets certainly have a sharp and dark image around them, and it makes a point of distinction between their settings.
Witch Finder deals with the issues of the conscience, when everything you’ve been brought up to believe turns out to be wrong. What do you do when you choose between what is right in your head, and death? Do you sacrifice your happiness for your family, to save their finances, or do you follow your heart even if it makes your life unbearable? There’s so many questions, and it’s all tackled in an old fashioned kind of way, and it feels a lot more honest and believable than many others.
It’s an interesting book, and it sets up nicely for future installments. The element of surprise could have made it slightly better, rather than playing into the instinctive conclusion, but it’s definitely a book to recommend to young readers who like something a little supernatural.