Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster
Published June 9th 2020 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
On Emblem Island all are born knowing their fate. Their lifelines show the course of their life and an emblem dictates how they will spend it.
Twelve-year-old Tor Luna was born with a leadership emblem, just like his mother. But he hates his mark and is determined to choose a different path for himself. So, on the annual New Year’s Eve celebration, where Emblemites throw their wishes into a bonfire in the hopes of having them granted, Tor wishes for a different power.
The next morning Tor wakes up to discover a new marking on his skin…the symbol of a curse that has shortened his lifeline, giving him only a week before an untimely death. There is only one way to break the curse, and it requires a trip to the notorious Night Witch.
With only his village’s terrifying, ancient stories as a guide, and his two friends Engle and Melda by his side, Tor must travel across unpredictable Emblem Island, filled with wicked creatures he only knows through myths, in a race against his dwindling lifeline.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Curse of the Night Witch was one of my most anticipated books for this year. I’m a complete sucker for a middle-grade fantasy, and if anything so much as mentions witches then I’m almost definitely going to add it to my TBR. So you can probably guess that I was pretty pumped to get the chance to read this one.
At its heart, this is really an adventure story with a nice dose of fairy tale and myths thrown in. I’m not usually one for fairy tales, but I do enjoy a good myth. (Yeah, I’m not sure how that works either). But the stories in here are short and woven into the adventure of our three characters. This is a fast-paced journey, and those tales add a new depth to the story without slowing it down. I really appreciated how well this was done, and how the stories tied into what the characters were doing or where they were without giving too much away.
I enjoyed the characters as well, but I can’t ignore the fact they feel very like Harry, Hermione and Ron. Not every middle-grade fantasy is HP and this is definitely quite different, but there were a couple of moments that felt a little too similar for me. This is only the first book in this series, so I really hope that the characters will grow more in the next book and that they’ll take a little bit of a different route.
All in all, I think this would be great for fans of Rick Riordan or Chris Colfer. If you’re looking for a quick, fun adventure read then this is definitely worth picking up.