Author: Charissa Weaks
Raina Bloodgood has one desire: kill the Frost King and the Witch Collector who stole her sister. On Collecting Day, she means to exact murderous revenge, but a more sinister threat sets fire to her world. Rising from the ashes is the Collector, Alexus Thibault, the man she vowed to slay and the only person who can help save her sister.
Thrust into an age-old story of ice, fire, and ancient gods, Raina must abandon vengeance and aid the Witch Collector in saving the Frost King or let their empire—and her sister—fall into enemy hands. But the lines between good and evil blur, and Raina has more to lose than she imagined. What is she to do when the Witch Collector is no longer the villain who stole her sister, but the hero who’s stealing her heart?
The Witch Collector is the first installment in the Witch Walker Trilogy. It begins in the town of Silver Hollow where Raina Bloodgood, in her early twenties, is recollecting when the Witch Collector took her sister, Nephele, eight years ago to serve the Frost King. The opening pages illustrate the determination Raina has to get her sister back by first defeating the Witch Collector. It sets the stage for a thrilling read where Raina must reunite with her sister. She is an excellent strong heroine who happens to be mute. She communicates by signing with her hands using a translated version of Elikesh, the language of the Ancient Ones. The Witch Collector has overlooked her previously as she lacks the witch markings, but she is determined to make this the year he chooses her.
This is initially a duel perspective story as both Raina and the Witch Collector, Alexus Thibault, are featured. (Also, a chapter later on features a third character that plays a key role in the story.) There is a central enemy, the Eastlanders led by the Prince of the East, that affects Raina’s initial plan to kill Alexus. Instead, she finds herself aligning with him in order for her to survive. Through both perspectives, the reader gains an insight into the dangers that exist around the characters. Alexus has a great attraction to Raina at first sight. While Raina acknowledges that Alexus is handsome, her attraction is not as initially apparent. The two characters get to know each other through their perilous journey through the woods.
There are side characters that play a smaller role, but could be featured in the big picture, such as Helena, Raina’s friend and sister to Raina’s best friend (and past love), Finn. The Frost King himself also play a role in the story and I loved getting to know his backstory a little more. There are a lot of politics and Ancient Gods that come into play within this trilogy that is mixed together with the romance storyline. As Alexus and Raina spend a lot of time together and their connection begins to grow, there is a lot of focus on building their relationship. While I would have preferred a little more exploration of the Gods and politics, I enjoyed the foundation that has been created for Alexus and Raina. For me, I connected with their relationship and I will have to see how the other two novels in the trilogy tie everything together.
Overall, there are many twists in this story that were very unexpected. The villain in the story is very well done, as he is unapologetically sinister. If this was a standalone, the pacing might have been a little slow in some places; however, it was well done as part of a trilogy. There are some lulls for the characters to develop and connect with each other and multiple places where action takes place. If you are a reader that enjoys romance mixed into your adventure, this is a great story for you. For me, it worked very well with my reading style and I cannot wait to read the next novel in the series!
**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, City Owl Press, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**