Series in Review #2: War of the Witches

So I’m going to do something I’ve tried not to do so far – review a book from memory. Or, to be more exact: review a series from memory. Way before the Divergent– and Hunger Games-trilogies, this series got me hooked. Hooked on YA-series, hooked on the female saviour… Why I loved War of the Witches? Read on to find out!

So, first things first, I read this series in Dutch – so I can’t really say all that much on narration and language for these books. However, I do specifically recall being really impressed with the way specific scenes were worked out. Also, these books actually gives quite a bit of respect to its readers. Why, you might ask? Because the situations and the way in which they are presented are quite difficult, sometimes. In wording, as well as in ethics. And the author (with some help of the translator, presumably), managed to do that beautifully!

For once, though, that same thing will be the case for you English-natives, out there. You see, these books were originally written in Spanish – and that sort of “Spanish influence” is definitely visible in the setting of the book, if not in the story itself!

Plot

What exactly is that story, then? Well, for once I’m not going to be able to just copy from Goodreads. For one thing, I can only find the first book on there in English. For another thing, I actually feel like the Dutch plot outline does it better.

So here’s a rough sketch of the setting:

The Omar, descended from Om, are mortal and really connected to nature. They also know all of nature’s secrete powers. They’re midwifes, mothers.

On the other hand, there’s the Odish – descended from Om. They are immortal, otherwordly beautiful and powerful. They lust for blood – and they’re infertile.

Since the beginning of time, these two clans have been at odds. The Omar-witches are constantly in hiding from the Odish, as they await the arrival of they’re chosen on. This chosen one’s coming was foretold in the oldest prophecy of O – mother of Od and Om.

Cue 2005, and the time of that prophecy might just have arrived. At 14, Anaid is just a shy, silent girl. All she wants, really, is to have a quiet, ordinary, school life. She’s not really all that popular at school, and up until recently, she could talk about that with her grandmother, Demeter, who now has passed. Her mother, Selene, is as outgoing and fiery as Anaid isn’t. And then, one day, Selena has disappeared.

What follows is Anaid finding out that her mother and grandmother were witches – Omar, to be exact. And her mother is presumed to be the prophecied one. Probably.

What I’ve just described to you, is just the first half of the first book. Also featured are Anaid’s father (hint: he’s not someone Selene should have been dating), the struggle of attempting to grow up, the kind of plot twists that had me going woah and just…

You basically have to read it to understand it.

Characters

The entire War of the Witches is almost created around the juxtaposition, the absolute difference, between Anaid and Selene in every aspect possible. Their looks, their characteristics, their talents

At the same time, throughout this series we get to see Anaid evolve into an almost Selene-like person, while Selene seems to make almost the opposite evolution. Kind of, she’s still the exuberant Selene, after all.

Along the way, we do encounter Anaid’s father (yes, the one Selene  shouldn’t have been seeing), both of her grandmothers (yes, including the one that’s technically dead), and a variation of characters that all seem to hold their piece of information. Information that Anaid needs to figure out, not only to fullfill her destiny, but also just simply: to grow up.

Narration

Yes, even though I said I couldn’t really say all that much about this, I’m doing this.

That’s mainly because I couldn’t not mention the narration of this story. As I already said before: the descriptions of the Spain-inspired surroundings are gorgeous. When Anaid heads up North – yes, she does that – that doesn’t change one bit. Seriously, throughout this entire series, the descriptions have stuck with me even now.

What’s more though, this author has an Anthropology-degree and spent some years working as a teacher. That understanding of human culture throughout the ages is also woven throughout this story. And apart from everything else – that really stuck with me.

Overall: 5/5

I think I gave all the individual books 5 stars, the first time I rated them. However, I also do remember sometimes having to make myself continue reading. None the less – this one can go down the books as one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read.

Overall, I would definitely consider this one a recommendation. If you want to read a book in translation? You need a trilogy that’s just that little bit different from all the sci-fi, dystopian series from the last couple of years? Maybe just a coming of age with a couple of awesome twists? Definitely give this one a try!

-Saar