Sarah Reviews… These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Good morning! It’s Wednesday and that means Young Adult review day. I’m sharing two reviews today to make up for the fact I didn’t get one finished in time for last Wednesday so first up is These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling.  To date there is a published sequel, and also a short story prequel but I’m not quite sure if that’s it or if maybe there is more to come in the future.

This is another book I originally read back in April as part of the Magical Readathon, it fulfilled my History of Magic prompt.

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Title: These Witches Don’t Burn

Author: Isabel Sterling

Publisher: Razorbill

Publication Date: 28th May 2019

Format: Hardback

About The Book…

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.

Isabel Sterling’s delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven–and any chance she has with the new girl–is destroyed.

What I Thought…

I first read the synopsis of These Witches Don’t Burn quite a while ago, I can’t even remember exactly when but there was something about it that captured my attention and so I bought it I’m not entirely sure that there’s actually a UK publisher for these books yet I know I ordered it online so it’s quite possible it was shipped directly from America but as I said I actually purchased this a little while ago so since then UK publisher might have picked up.

These Witches Don’t Burn focuses on Hannah who is an elemental witch living in Salem Massachusetts, which we all know is famous for its witch trials in the past. The story follows Hannah as she tries to deal with the standard trials and tribulations of being a teenager, dealing with realisations about her sexuality and living in the same town as her ex. At the same time Hannah is beginning to come of age as a witch so she is busy having lessons learning more about her magic but also knowing that she can’t reveal herself 2 any of her friends who happened to be Regs. That is a non-magical person to the rest of us. When strange things start happening in town Hannah ends up investigating by herself even when Her parents and head of the coven, her grandmother, tell her not to and as you can probably predict things do not always go to plan.

I always think I’m not that much of a fantasy fan And then I find myself reading more and more YA fantasy and I think what I’ve discovered is I’m not necessarily a fan of so called high fantasy, things like Lord Of The Rings and Game Of Thrones are probably never going to be for me, but I really enjoyed this story. I think part of it is that although there are definitely fantasy elements within the plot, the central character is an elemental witch, so spells and coven life are mentioned. But at the same time there seems to be almost an equal footing given to both the contemporary, everyday teenage life elements and also the more mystery elements of the book. The quest to find out what is happening in their town becomes an increasing large focus of the book. I found the book a little bit slow going at the start, part of me understands the need to set everything up to explain about Hannah and her coven, and the type of magic that she is learning.

I felt at times towards the beginning of the book that the romance felt a little like it was trying too hard. Some of the passages describing Hannah realising she was a lesbian, and her first relationship with another female felt a little bit forced and almost as if the author were trying to prove how diverse she was. I do think that as the general pace of the plot picked up that the author almost seemed to relax a little bit more though were still parts of a romance interspersed within the plot both talking about Hannah’s first relationship but also how she was moving forward and the potential and start of a new relationship, it felt more natural.

Then just very briefly touch on some of the characters, Hannah is our main focus in the book I think that she has good intentions there are obviously things in her past which affect the way she reacts to certain things and it was interesting as the book went on to learn more about that particular event. I think throughout the book Hannah does learn a little bit more about herself and I think it will be very interesting to pick up the second book and see how certain major events from this book affect her going forwards.

I really didn’t like her ex Veronica I’m not sure if there’s some sort of depth to the character that I’m not seeing but she came across as generally not a very nice person she seemed manipulative and I really don’t think it would be that much of a stretch to say that her relationship with Hannah almost felt a bit abusive at times. I’m not sure how much or even if she will feature in the next book, part of me thinks she probably will as she is part of Hannah’s coven; at the same time, I’m kind of hoping that she doesn’t. Then we have Morgan, I liked Morgan I think she came across really well in the book although we had I have very limited view of her character so far, I found the reveal at the end to be particularly interesting so I’m really keen to see how that plays forward in the next book.

Final Thoughts…

As I mentioned These Witches Don’t Burn got off to a little bit of a slow start but once the pace of the plot picked up a little bit it ended up being a really gripping read. I really didn’t see a lot of the events right towards the end happening and was a lot more emotional than I expected to be at some points. If you enjoy a little bit of witchy fantasy reads I would definitely recommend it once I finish this I did go out an purchase This Coven Won’t Break which is the sequel and that is currently sitting on my shelf ready to read.

The These Witches Don’t Burn series on Goodreads

More Isabel Sterling on SWB

About The Author…

Isabel Sterling is an LGBTQ advocate and educator by day and a YA author by night. When she’s not writing about magic and murder, Isabel can be found lost in a good book, marathoning her favorite shows, or relaxing by the lake. She lives in central NY with her wife and their brood of furry children: cats Oliver and December and a beagle-mix named Lily.

Connect With Isabel

Website // Twitter // Instagram

Want To Buy It?


As always if you’ve read the book let me know what you thought! If you’ve not read it yet will my review convince you to pick it up?

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