Book Review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

These Witches Don’t Burn
Author – Isabel Sterling
Publishing – May 28th 2019 by Razorbill
Genre – Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT
Format – Paperback
Pages – 320
Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans. 

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

I can’t talk about These Witches Don’t Burn without talking about the LGBT+ representation. The main character is lesbian, her love interest is bisexual, there’s a queer, trans co-worker and even married lesbian witches. The author also touches on some issues that the LGBTQ+ characters have faced, such as parents being wary of their daughter’s lesbian best friend, or of the issues of coming out as bisexual etc. 

The main character Hannah is kind-hearted and determined. I really feel for her, having to deal with a kinda crazy ex-girlfriend, witch attacks and trying to figure out if the cute new girl is flirting with her, or just trying to be her friend. There are also a lot of really interesting side characters who add a lot to the story. I especially like Hannah’s best friend, Gemma, who is just the sweetest.

There are three different types of witches: elemental, caster and blood. Hannah is an Element witch, as well as her parents, and grandmother, who is also the High Priestess and leader of their coven. And if that wasn’t witchy enough, Hanna also works in a Wiccan supply store. These Witches Don’t Burn completely ticked all of the boxes for me and I just loved the pure witchy-ness of this story. 

I thought it was very cool how the author combined witchcraft with the typical elements of a YA novel like teen relationships and drama. There are, however, a few things I didn’t love about this book. The writing is good and I enjoyed the book as a whole, but I felt like the story and plot was a bit choppy in places. I also feel like I should include a warning, this book contains animal sacrifice, violence, blood and fire/car accidents. 

These Witches Don’t Burn was an enjoyable read, with interesting characters, plenty of LGBTQ+ representation and full of witchy awesomeness. This book is full of mystery, and has so many unexpected reveals and plot twists that you will never see coming! 

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