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.