Friday, December 25, 2009

Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens

Posted by Simcha 3:37 AM, under | 7 comments

I recently noticed Wit’ch Fire, by James Clemens, is listed as one of the top fantasy books on Amazon and I recognized this title as one that’s been sitting on my bookshelf for a while, but which I have never been inclined to read. But after perusing all the positive Amazon reviews on the book, I thought it would be worthwhile to give it a try.

As the magic of Chi slowly drains out of the land of Alasea, leaving the people defenseless against their enemies, three mages come together in a desperate effort to ensure that someday the magic will be returned to Alasea and the people saved. The mages intend to create the book prophesied in the visions, through a magical ceremony, but something goes horribly wrong and all three mages disappear, leaving behind their guardian Er’ril, who suspects that their attempt was a dismal a failure.

Five centuries later, thirteen year old Elena is picking apples in her family’s orchard, when a severe stomach cramp causes her to fall out of the tree. Picking herself up from the ground, Elena discovers that she has begun menstruating and strangely enough, her hand is now a bright red which won’t rub off. Frightened, Elena runs home to her family who are exultant at her new status as a woman, though they have no answer for the strange color of her hand.

Late that night, Elena is woken up by strange sounds from outside. Looking out of her window, she sees two menacing strangers approaching her house. She runs to warn her parents, but it is too late. The strangers attack Elena’s family and Elena and her brother, Joach, are forced to flee into the woods to escape their predators.

But when the siblings make their way to town, where they expect to find refuge, they discover instead that the towns people have all been turned against them, and it’s only the sudden aid of a stranger that gets Elena and Joach out alive.

Soon Elena finds herself allied with an unusual group of travelers, including two shapshifters, an elf, an ogre and a wood nymph, each of whom has their own personal quest to fulfill but whose paths bring them together in order to find the answers they seek.

I thought
Witch Fire was an OK book, but not much more then that. The whole story takes place within just a few days and the pace of the book felt rushed to me, with one character after another being thrown into the mix but none of them being fully fleshed out. Elena and her brother were the only characters that were really three dimensional but once more characters were added, they both kind of faded into the background.

I also didn’t really understand what the magic system was here. It seems that those with a red hand are capable of certain powers, but what those powers are and how they work, was never clarified. Also Clemens use of common words with the addition of an apostrophe, such as wit'ch or magick, was rather irritating.

On the plus side, the book was well written and there were some interesting villains and creative magical creatures. I also appreciated the unexpected twist at the end. But the lack of character development left me rather unimpressed with the book and uninterested in following it up with the sequel.

I did actually take a brief look at a review of the sequel,
Wit’ch Storm, in which the reviewer mentioned that she felt the second book was better then the first, especially in regard to the character development. So perhaps I will give the sequel a chance at some point but I'm not in any particular rush at this time to do so.


I wasn't that familiar with this book before and while I love the cover I'm not all that interested in reading the book. Characters are improtant to me and if they aren't developed properly I normally don't like the book all that much. Thanks for the review.

That would irritate me too, unnecessary apostrophes like that!

It makes you wonder then, doesn't it, about the accuracy of Amazon ratings/reviews.

Ryan, I absolutely agree about character development. For me to really enjoy a book I need the characters to be fully fleshed out, otherwise the rest of the book falls flat.
Stephanie: while you have to take Amazon reviews with a grain of salt, it also shows me the vast variety of opinions that people can have on the same book. While I found fault with the pace of the book, which felt rushed to me, others commented on how much they enjoyed the fast pace. So it can be interesting to see the different opinions readers have on the same book.

This sounds like it has an interesting idea to it. I like my characters set up well too, but the world sounds like it may need some building as well, with the magic system and such. The book does sound interesting to me though. Does the whole story of the magi come out? It would have to be part of what tells of what happened to Elena,right? Thanks for the review. Believe it or not I have not heard of this book till now.

Melissa, if you don't mind reading ebooks, Witch Fire is available for free download from the Suvuadu library. If you do read it, I'd be interested in hearing your opinion.

Oh, I don't have an ereader.... I'll have to think on that with reading it on a computer. I get tired of starring at the computer all day sometimes. I'll think about it. Maybe I'll get it on the computer and read it at short times in the evening. hmmm, that sounds like an idea. Thanks for letting me know!

Melissa, have you ever tried reading books on your phone? If you don't mind doing that, then this book is also available on Wattpad ( I'm at the point where if there is a book I want to read I will read it in whatever format I can get it. Boy, I miss libraries...those wonderful buildings full of free books in English...*sigh*

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