Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: DNF Series: yes - second book in trilogy
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for WITCHSIGN*
Steiner, blacksmith, hero, has taken a hammer to the Empire, freeing the dead and children with witchsign alike from their fiery prison. Now he plans to finish what he started.
Kimi, dragon-speaker, princess, must seek her father’s court and win the support of his armies before news of her escape dooms her people.
Silverdust, ancient, dead, journeys to the heart of the empire as a prisoner – to meet the Emperor for what he hopes will be the final time.
Kjellrun, witch, killer, still reeling from the loss of her uncle when she is ripped from her family, fears this power within her. But she must harness that force – and soon – if she hopes to survive.
Scattered by fortune, plagued by danger, Steiner’s crew rise against the dark rule that has cost them so much.
The old gods are waking. The dragons are free. May gods help those who bear the sign of the witch.
Synopsis taken from back of copy. Add to your Goodreads shelves here.
I held off posting this for a while, (I read it in May!) thinking I might have a full post of DNF reviews like I usually do. However, the other DNFs of the year were books I’d written so much about in my reviews/reasons why I DNF’d that I didn’t have anything else to make it a full post. And then I realised that I actually HAD written a lot for this book, enough to constitute a post of its own. So here it is.
Sometimes, with series, if I struggle with the first book, the more entries I read, the more I get into the world and story. It happened with THE BONE SEASON and JADE CITY, and hoped it would happen with this series. I struggled a fair bit with WITCHSIGN, the first book, but ploughed on into STORMTIDE.
Unfortunately, I just could not get into this book at all. After 10 chapters, I picked up a different book instead, and then grudgingly came back to this one. I also struggled to read even 5 chapters in one go (I tend to read in blocks of 5.) I persisted for longer than I probably ought to, because I hate DNF’ing, but here we go. I just don’t want to read it.
My problem is I am just bored and don’t care about the characters. I’d struggled to connect to Steiner and Kjellrunn in the first book, and they’re not recommending themselves this time. Steiner is being moody and petulant, and not wanting to share the limelight with his girlfriend – who has given literally everything up to help him. Kjellrunn is floating around and there’s no real story progression in her chapters.
Yes, we need to see more stories about healing, but for a second book in a trilogy, there needs to be a sense of forwards momentum in the overall story, and there’s none here because she’s not involved with the others. If there had been some appreciable movement in the other POVs, I probably would have been less bored by hers, as there’d be an overall sense that things are happening, but at past the halfway mark, it feels like they’ve made no appreciable progress towards any goal.
There are also three new POVs (though, if I’d stopped before halfway, I’d have only thought there were two more). Silverdust is the most interesting of the new POVs, but he’s not around enough. All the POVs are very disparate and not well linked. Plus the new POVs are ancient or early 20s, which makes this book feel even more like it’s straddling YA and adult without fitting in either.
Read my reviews of other books by Den Patrick:
Ashen Torment (this series):
- WITCHSIGN (#1)