I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker
Series: The Witch Hunter #2
Length: 368 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
An action-packed and suspenseful sequel to The Witch Hunter, perfect for fans of Graceling and the Grisha Trilogy.
"I think, in time, you'll either be my greatest mistake or my greatest victory."
Former witch hunter Elizabeth Grey is hiding within the magically protected village of Harrow, evading the price put on her head by Lord Blackwell, the usurper king of Anglia. Their last encounter left Blackwell ruined, but his thirst for power grows stronger every day. He's readying for a war against those who would resist his rule--namely Elizabeth and the witches and wizards she now calls her allies.
Having lost her stigma, a magical source of protection and healing, Elizabeth's strength is tested both physically and emotionally. War always means sacrifice, and as the lines between good and evil blur once more, Elizabeth must decide just how far she'll go to save those she loves.
"[Filled] with everything a good fantasy book needs: swords, poison, black magic, and betrayal."--April Tucholke, author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, on The Witch Hunter
The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker is an amazing sequel to The Witch Hunter and wraps the story of Elizabeth Grey up nicely. The story picks up a couple months after the events at the end of the first book (so if you haven’t read book one there are minor spoilers ahead). Elizabeth is still recovering from her encounter with Blackwell and Caleb without her stigma. John has that now and it’s not playing well with his own healer magic. Now Blackwell is coming for Elizabeth and her stigma, the question is why.
I’ll admit when I read The Witch Hunter, I had a hard time liking Elizabeth. She’s one of those characters that grows on you. She was crass, tough as nails, and thought herself invincible. Now without her stigma, she finds she needs to redefine herself. Her life up to this point was about being a witch hunter. Now she isn’t. Now she lives in Harrow with John, Peter, Fifer, Schuyler, and Nicholas. She lives among the people who were her enemy. People she spent her life hunting and killing and sentencing to burn at the stake. Now Elizabeth needs to redefine herself and without her stigma she’s at a loss. She doesn’t know who she is, but she knows who she is not. It’s interesting and heart-breaking reading her struggles and I found myself rooting for her early on.
Then there’s John. I fell in love with him in the first book as did Elizabeth. John is one of those characters that just oozes goodness. He’s kind, caring, and loyal. He’s a healer and this aspect defines him. When you think of someone that their whole life is devoted to taking care of others, that is John. At least that was John before the stigma. Now the magic of the stigma is interacting and overshadowing his healer magic. He becomes violent, unkind, and an entirely different person. It’s heartbreaking!
When Blackwell begins sending his men to infiltrate Harrow and kidnap Elizabeth, she comes to one conclusion. She has to go to Blackwell and finish what she started in The Witch Hunter. She has to kill him. But it is never as easy as that. Harrow is building an army and Elizabeth must help train it. She is relied on and reviled. She is a necessary evil to the people of Harrow and it’s heartbreaking (have I used that word too much already?!) to read. She’s a different person yet not. She’s still strong, can fight, and is courageous, but she knows she’s no longer invincible, John is with her stigma. And that secret that John is alive must never reach Blackwell.
Overall I really enjoyed this book! It was full of ups and downs. One minute I was happy and smiling and swooning, the next I was angry and hurt, then I was sobbing before finally happy again. Trust me when I say this book is an emotional rollercoaster. I felt for Elizabeth and everything she encounters and dose throughout this book. I was heartbroken over and over again, yet left with hope. I loved the alternative fiction the author has created mixing it with the paranormal of witches and wizards. If you enjoyed the first book, you will enjoy this one. If you enjoy historical fiction and fantasy, I highly recommend you make this your next read!