by Ireen Chau
In the kingdom of Olderea, dabbling in witchcraft is a sure way to the guillotine.
When sixteen-year-old debutante Amarante Flora finds out she’s half witch, all she wants is to get rid of her magic. After all, zapping Prince Ash in the midst of high society’s Season certainly won’t help her troublemaking reputation.
But the more her powers grow, the more she realizes magic—and the witches who possess it—are not as dangerous as she was led to believe. When the queen falls mysteriously ill, Amarante knows there are far more dangers lurking in the palace than in Witch Village.
Among potion-brewing and glittering receptions, Amarante joins Prince Ash in an investigation before innocent witches are condemned. However, uncovering the culprit’s schemes could mean exposing her magic. And exposing her magic would mean her very life—and the contempt of the prince she is trying to help.
A fairytale-like story.
The characters were nice. Amarante and Ash were great main characters. The side characters did feel a little less developed, in that we really only got to know one side of their personality. But the personality that we did get to see was nice.
The plot felt a little bit like a fairy tale. It wasn’t overly complicated or surprising, but it was charming to read. There were a couple of parts when things felt a little too easy or convenient for the characters, but I didn’t let myself think too hard about it, and it didn’t ruin anything. And maybe it’s because I don’t quite know how exactly debutant seasons work, but how was Amarante able to sneak away all of the time without anyone really noticing? Also, her emotional beats when she discovered her witch heritage felt a little off. She seemed to accept it a little too easily. But like I said, none of it ruined the book. 🙂
The illustrations sprinkled throughout the book were delightful and added an extra layer of charm to the book. It’s such a fun addition.
Now, let’s talk about the magic in The Herbwitch’s Apprentice.
Typically, I don’t pick up books if they have anything to do with witches, as the magic systems in witch books typically make me uncomfortable. However, after reading reviews by several people who have similar reading/magic preferences to me, I decided to pick up The Herbwitch’s Apprentice.
Chau’s witches aren’t your typical witches. “Witch” is simply the story world term for someone who has magic; she could have used a different word if she wanted. Chau’s witches have magic as a part of them, like an extra talent, which is the type of magic I prefer to read–where it’s inherent to the world. There is some potion brewing, but it honestly seemed to just be magical cooking. I don’t recall there being any sort of verbal spells.
Overall, the witch aspect of the book didn’t make me feel uncomfortable. The magic was never dark, and when poison potion-making is mentioned, it’s condemned.
The Herbwitch’s Apprentice is a nice debut from Ireen Chau. While there are some weaker areas, the story as a whole points to Chau’s strengths as a writer, which I’m sure will only grow.
Cautions: two instances of swearing; a swear word is used twice for its actual meaning; light romance; two kisses; mentions of rumors that a character is illegitimate; brief reference to a character having an affair