Goodreads Rating: 3.62
My Rating: 4/5
Tongue and eye, hand and foot. Blood and bone, ash and soot.
E. Latimer combines modern witchcraft with Celtic folklore in this gripping story about two opposing covens who must come together in the deeply religious Irish town of Carman to stop a serial killer who is targeting witches.
At the beginning of the book, Dayna has just been outted as bisexual at her school against her will. On top of her training to become a full fledged witch, she must contend with her persistent ex-boyfriend, pastor father, and the return of her emotionally unstable mother from a suspicious bible camp that was intended to make her better. She finds solace with her friend Raegan and the other witches in her coven. That is, until a second coven of three strange witches shows up to combine their forces against an impending attack.
Meiner is also a witchling with a chip on her shoulder and an attitude problem. The leader of her coven is her grandmother King, who is equal parts abusive and reckless with her magic. And that is to say nothing of Cora, her ex-girlfriend, who is also a little too willing to bend the rules.
I loved the overall atmosphere of this book. It brings to mind scenes from The Raven Cycle’s 300 Fox Way and its diverse characters. I think the characters are easily the strongest thing going for Witches of Ash and Ruin. They have A LOT going on and it was very compelling to watch them struggle with each other and try to find middle ground in order to meet a common goal. The plot itself is super interesting and despite a slow section here and there, I wanted to push through them to see what would happen next.
I didn’t have any outright problems with this book but, to me, the most lackluster aspect was the writing style. It’s very direct which is good for getting its point across, but I am a fan of a little flowery language (to an extent) that I can return to and highlight. So that being said, this book isn’t very quotable but I can’t be too upset about it since I think everything else was done very well.
One thing I think is worth mentioning is the representation of OCD in this book. It is mentioned early on that one of the characters has been diagnosed and it’s something she struggles with, but it doesn’t really come up a whole lot after that. I’ve heard mixed reviews on how this was perceived. Some people liked that, and others didn’t. It’s not an illness I have any personal experience with so I can’t comment on it myself but maybe take that into consideration.
Some other trigger warnings you should be aware of: homophobia, implied conversion therapy, implied sexual assault, self harm, familial abuse, body horror, mental illness
As of 2021 I have revamped my rating system a little and it goes like this: I have a list of criteria I grade a book on (where applicable) and I give each of those a rating from 1 to 5. Then I take the average of them all, and that’s where my final rating comes from. So this is what my breakdown for Witches of Ash and Ruin looks like:
- Plot- 4/5
- Characters- 5/5
- Pacing- 4/5
- Writing Style- 3/5
- Overall Enjoyment- 4/5
- Insightfulness- 4/5
- Ease of Reading- 5/5