Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge: To Kill a Kettle Witch

"Blessed fire in the night
Show me what is in the sight
Show me what brings fight or flight
Blessed fire in the night."

To Kill a Kettle Witch: A Novel of the Mist-Torn Witches by Barb Hendee.

Back when I did the Witches & Witchcraft Challenge in 2015 I read the first three books of Barb Hendee's "The Mist-Torn Witches". It worked out great since the third book was new and I quickly read all three books. I didn't participate in 2016 because I was doing a deep dive into the history of England, so I also missed reading this book when it was out. I picked it up on release day and it has sat on my device.

I really enjoyed the tale of new Mist-torn witches Céline and Amelie Fawe. Céline can see visions of the future and is a knowledgeable apothecary.   Amelie is the younger sister and sees images of the past and is just as handy with a sword or dagger. We got to see them grow in power and in confidence over the course of the three books and it was a lot of fun.

While overtly fantasy novels, and more overtly Hendee's own brand of good people in a dark fantasy world, the books are less about the supernatural and more detective stories. Céline and Amelie just have supernatural means of uncovering clues. While the other books dealt with the murders of nobles or people close to them, this time the mystery is the death of a forest and in the center of it all are Céline and Amelie's own people, the Móndyalítko, the gypsy-like "children of the world". It also involves the mysterious Helga the chief servant at Castle Sèone.   We learn right away she is also a Móndyalítko and she has her own share of secrets that are soon revealed and have bearing on the present problem.
We also get more of the backstory of Lt. Jaromir and learn of his connection to Helga.

I don't want to get into too many spoilers here. The book moves fast and thus feels very short. I will say this one is a slight departure from the first three in that there is no clear-cut "bad guy" unless you want to count the price of magic itself.

The book feels like a turning point in the series. Two characters finally get together. Other characters get their stories advanced and two major characters get their histories filled out.  I have mentioned this before, but if this were a movie it would pass both the Bechdel test AND the Mako Mori test.  The was less interaction with the two sisters than in previous books, but I took that as a sign of growth; they are both comfortable in what their roles are now and trust each other to do it.  Or in other words, they are no longer children, but capable strong women.

While I have said before that Amelie (the woman on the cover) is my favorite of the two sisters, I wanted more Céline in this book.  I feel her story is unfinished. Interesting, since she is the sister that can see into the future, it is her future we know the least about.

I hope that Céline and Amelie will also show up in Barb and J.C. Hendee's other books.

2017 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
2017 Witch & Witchcraft Reading Challenge
Books Read so far: 10
Level: Maiden
Witches in this book: Half-a-dozen or so, counting the sisters and the titular "Kettle Witch".
Are they Good Witches or Bad Witches: Good, but some make some bad choices.
Best RPG to Emulate it: Castles & Crusades feels the best for me here, but also D&D 5 would work nicely.  If I were to use Pathfinder I might make them Oracles.  If I were using my own Witch book, then the obvious choice would be to make a Mist-Torn Tradition and their powers to see into the future and the past would be occult powers.
Use in WotWQ: I would love to have a cameo of the sisters in my game someday.   They would certainly be the witches to call on when investigating a murder.

You can find more of Barb Hendee's books at her author page and at http://www.nobledead.org/.

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