The Ones We Burn
I have looked forward to reading this book for quite awhile now. It is a long book but made for a quick read as I couldn’t put it down. While I have read there is controversy surrounding this book, my own careful reading has led me to believe that the controversy was unjust. Not a page of this book shows racism or anti Jewish sentiment. Not a page. In fact, from my reading, every character in this book seems to be a different shade of brown or tan. Even those labeled as “pale” seem to be just a lighter shade of tan. Race plays absolutely no part in this book. I’ve read every single page. I kept waiting for something to jump out and scream racism. It simply does not exist in this book. What this book does bring light to is that hatred causes war and death and fear. It shows us that even those we love and trust can betray us.
Now for my review. In every generation or so, a witch is born with blood magic. Not the type of blood magic you read about in stories requiring blood as a magical ingredient, but the type that lives in the blood of the witch. In those cursed with this gift they will awaken to a feeling of starvation for death. They are seen as killers. Monsters. Ranka was one woman born a blood witch.
The humans are terrified of all witches and seek to burn them alive. The witches are afraid of the humans and of being burned alive. While there are many types of witches, they all belong to their own covens and live apart from the humans. When a parent realizes their child has this gift, or curse, the covens will try to bring them in. If unsuccessful they are generally burned alive with their own families watching. Ranka was found by the Skra coven and taken in. Her blood magic awakened when she was back with her parents and she would come to be known as the Butcher of Belren for all of the people she slaughtered.
Each generation a blood witch is chosen and named the Bloodwinn. She must travel to the seat of the monarchy in Isodal and marry the monarch. This is supposed to act as a truce between the covens and the humans. Unfortunately, witches are still slaughtered by the humans and the treaty is little more than a veiled attempt to maintain a peace that doesn’t exist. Ranka was chosen as the Bloodwinn.
As she traveled to Isodal, intent on eventually killing the prince she was to marry, she came upon a very sick witch. It appeared a plague had begun to take root. Once in Isodal Ranka uncovers a nefarious plot to infect witches and kill them off. She also learns that the prince and his twin sister are not the witch killing monsters she has been told they were. A group called the Hands seek to destroy every witch that they find and it appears they have help from within.
Ranka works to figure out how the plague is spreading and with the help of the princess, to find a cure. This will take her down a path of of twists, betrayal, love, loss, destiny, memory, facing her own demons…..all while trying to figure out who is manipulating who. Who is the villain? Is she the monster? Who can she trust?
Read this book. It is a great one. On that note, read every book someone tells you not to read. Chances are that they didn’t even read it themselves.
Don’t skip the epilogue.