Sep 22, 2022

DNF Review--The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith


The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards.

In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet—her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there.

Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother.

Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?


It's with great sadness that I bring you this DNF review today. But since I read over 100 pages of The Witch Haven by Sash Peyton Smith, I thought it deserved some thoughts written here. I mean, I started this book on Monday and here I am on Thursday...granted I traveled Tuesday, so not much reading was done, but alas, I can read no more.

The premise of the book was very intriguing. Frances is a teenage girl who finds herself in a pickle. She's had a rough go of it lately, as her brother died a few months ago, her mother lost all sense of herself and was incapable of taking care of her remaining child. Frances had taken a low paying job as seamstress and things were fine. She was making by, but then when the owner of the shop, a shrewd businessman, tries to attack her, she fights back and before she knows it a pair of scissors lands in his neck without her ever having touched them.

She's soon whisked away to a hospital, for two nurses claim that she is very ill and contagious, so Frances is able to slip out of the murder investigation and finds herself, not in a hospital, but a school for witches. For Frances, is in fact a witch.

Being at a school for witches should have been exciting enough, yet Frances realizes that the school is more about teaching the young women about how to hide their powers. It was all very mundane, even Frances became bored as she learned it was more about learning to be a proper lady and all instead of wielding magic. She learned a few tricks, mainly how to expel magic so it wouldn't backup and untoward things happen.

Meanwhile, she is receiving mysterious notes that make her believe that her brother's tragic death was anything but an accident.

And that's about where I stopped as not much was happening. It was a very slow building pace. Which depending on how it's executed, I can deal with it or sometimes, I might not even mind. Sadly this was a case where the slowness had me bored. Frances would go to classes and be bored. Every once in a while a mysterious note popped up or in the case of where I stopped, she learned something else related to her family. But alas, I just never felt invested in the story. It was too mundane, which is saying something about a book that involves witches, magic, a magic school, and even murder!

The pacing was the main drag for me with this one. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for a slow build, but I gave it longer than I normally would a slow paced book. I did hear many great things about this one, so if it is still of interest to you, please don't let my thoughts dissuade you! I just felt like writing up something here since I read so much of it already!






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