Published by Razorbill on May 28th 2019
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.
I don’t remember when I bought These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling but I do remember why: contemporary witch teen drama, ominous signs, and colourful characters. And I wasn’t disappointed.
As a fan of The Craft, The Wicca series by Cate Tiernan, and many other contemporary witch stories, I want my stakes high. It’s not like I want people to die, but witches already have powers regular humans don’t. I want them to use those powers, and maybe even grow into becoming better witches. That usually means high stakes. Hannah experiences several life-threatening situations and is even forced to work together with her ex, who is still in love with her. Hannah’s new crush complicates things too.
While the story is set in Salem, I didn’t really get the feeling like Salem had a role in the story, which is a missed opportunity in my eyes. Hannah’s coven lives there and there are a lot of tourists who visit the Wiccan shop she works at, but nothing more than that. I wish it had more significance since it could’ve been set in any other city.
Sterling’s writing style is fast-paced and to the point. She doesn’t waste words and it fits Hannah’s voice beautifully. With everything going on, there’s no space to waste. Still, she doesn’t rush through conveying enough of the witchy world to get intrigued. I definitely want to know about the different factions of witches. Hopefully, the sequel, This Coven Won’t Break, will cover more of that.
I give These Witches Don’t Burn four stars. The story kept me reading and I finished it in one go. It’s a very enjoyable read with interesting characters, enough to make me want to read the next book. If you like witchy books, queer characters, and don’t mind fire, this is your book.