Title: Witches Steeped in Gold
Series: Witches Steeped in Gold #1
Author: Ciannon Smart
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: April 20, 2021 (HarperTeen)
Synopsis: Divided by their order. United by their vengeance.
Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom – and vengeance.
Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.
Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain – except the lengths they will go to win this game.
This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes.
Thank you to Harper Collins Canada and HCC Frenzy for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Witches Steeped in Gold brings us the story of two witches from rival orders who find themselves on the same side of a fight for the throne. Jazmyne Cariot, the doyenne’s daughter, works an Emissary, but has been collaborating with a resistance movement to overthrow her mother ever since her sister was sacrificed to maintain the throne. Iraya Adair, the long lost and rightful heir, has been held prisoner for ten years and now longs for vengeance. To accomplish their common goal, Jazmyne and Iraya form an alliance, though neither really trusts the other.
When I first heard of this book back in October last year, I knew I had to read it. I love reading books based on different cultures, especially fantasy novels. There has been a lot of hype surrounding this book for the past couple of months, and it is definitely deserving of it! I absolutely loved the world-building, and the descriptions were so richly detailed. It actually reminded me a little of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. Though the cultural influences for the two stories are entirely different, the feel was similar. The magic system was quite different from anything I’ve come across, though I wish it had been better explained – I prefer more structured descriptions so I can get an idea of the rules and limits surrounding it, but hopefully the sequel will have more about this. I also hope that the finished copy has a map in it as that would be so helpful in visualizing the sequence of events. The narration and storytelling was fantastic, and managed to keep my attention despite such a complex plot.
Jazmyne and Iraya were both interesting characters in that neither of them fits the typical hero character, rather, they are both walking that fine line between being a hero or a villain. Morally grey characters are so much fun to read, and as their arcs progress, it was fascinating to see that each of them ended up heading straight towards what they feared and tried to avoid becoming. It was quite hard to decide who to root for because they were each such delightfully complex characters, and it was great seeing how their tense alliance would work out when they clearly have so many plots and agendas of their own. I did not expect Kirdan to end up playing such a significant role when he was first introduced, but I’m very curious to see where his arc goes next. Much about him is still shrouded in mystery and he is a very hard character to read – the reveals about him were completely out of the blue and they are no doubt going to play a significant role in the next book.
As I don’t know much about Jamaican culture, which much of this book was based on, a lot of it went over my head. While I did enjoy it, I felt like more background and explanation (maybe a glossary?) would have helped as I frequently lost track of the story trying to figure out what exactly was happening. The major issue with this book however, was the pacing which was on the slower side until nearly the 75% mark after which everything seemed to happen all at once, resulting in a rather chaotic (though still exciting) ending. I didn’t care much for the romance plotline either as it didn’t seem to add much to the story.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and considering it is a debut novel it was really good. It certainly delivers on the intriguing synopsis, and I think this is one series I would love to see adapted to a movie or TV show. Thanks again to HCC Frenzy for sending me a review copy of this book. I would definitely recommend this book for fantasy fans, or if you are looking for a diverse read!
Witches Steeped in Gold releases on April 20th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: