Saturday, October 22, 2022

Book Review: The Witch and the Vampire by Francesca Flores (fantasy, lesbian)

TitleThe Witch and the Vampire
Author: Francesca Flores
Publication Date: March 21, 2023
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genres: Fantasy
Protagonist Gender: Female
Sexuality: Lesbian

The Witch and the Vampire is a young adult novel that feels rather mature in its blood and carnage, but sometimes very adolescent in its love and tears. 

Francesca Flores has a lovely narrative style at times, which made for an easy read, although she has a tendency to tell too much when she should be showing - and that sometimes means characters literally telling each other what they're feeling. As a result, emotional moments, especially those in flashbacks, often fall flat.

That said, the character voices were strong and distinct, even if some of the villains (I'm looking at you, Zenos) were over-the-top. The world-building was uneven, with too many info dumps, but intriguing in how it grows and evolves over the course of the story. The portrayals of vampires were just about spot-on for the genre, genuinely threatening and fiendishly attractive, while the witches are well-done, although they're more fantasy sorceresses than traditional witches.

Where the story disappointed me the most was with the queer romance. What starts as a friends-to-enemies relationship with a lot of angst and regret drops scattered hints about deeper feelings but, aside from a single kiss, there's nary a hint of romance. Take away that kiss, and the friendship is perfectly sufficient to carry a fantasy quest. When the first line of the blurb promises "a queer Rapunzel retelling," though, there are expectations set that are never fulfilled. On that note, aside from the main character having long hair and spending a few chapters locked in a tower, this has nothing at all to do with the fairy tale.

The climax had a lot going on, and I do mean a lot, and while that made for some exciting chaos, there are a few mythological twists that I question whether they were necessary. I wish The Witch and the Vampire had been as beautiful as the cover, that it had delivered on the queer love story, but I'm still glad I gave it a read.

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀

My sincere thanks to the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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