Review: The Crimson Witch by John North

I received a review copy of this book via Reedsy Discovery. This did not affect my opinion of the book in any way.

Series: Gorgon #1

Published: May 2021

Pages: 357


What is power without control?

All Aurora’s life, she’s had one dream – to defeat the strongest race on Earth, the Demi-Gods. Too bad the one thing holding her back is her destructive, unstable magic abilities. She lives a life of crime to draw powerful adversaries, but that comes to a halt when she’s discovered by Princess Polaris, the daughter of one of the most notorious Demi-Gods to grace the earth. Aurora has to go with Polaris to the far west or risk the secrets of her magic being free to the world.

While she’s fought powerful opponents before, terrorists, vampires, and demons may be more than she bargained for. To make things worse, if Aurora’s magic gets claimed by her enemies, the fallout could result in a war great enough to destroy the world.

Who will Aurora’s magic destroy first? Her enemies, her allies, or herself?

My Thoughts…

CW: this book contains mentions of explicit violence, gore and death.

Aurora trained all her life to reach one goal only: become the strongest and defeat the Demi-Gods. But her magic is unstable and there is a darkness hidden within her that threatens to destroy her and all those around her. When Princess Polaris, daughter of one of the most notorious Demi-Gods alive, tries to kidnap Aurora, the witch is faced with some serious problems. Add to that being chased by a bloodthirsty vengeful vampire, a network of terrorists, and powerful demons, and Aurora may just start to find that she’s in over her head…

The Crimson Witch was a highly entertaining read and definitely had fun subverting expectations and playing with classic fantasy tropes. The world the author created was rich and complex, very well constructed without becoming too heavy.

I loved the mix between different creatures such as vampires, demons and half-dragons, and the Demi-Gods, who in their ranks could sport big names like Medusa or King Arthur and Mordred. This added depth to the world and really helped me get on board with it, as I slowly understood the complex environment as well. I did think that some aspects could have benefited from slightly more detail, but this is only the first book in the series, so I expect we’ll get more of that in the next book.

The cast of characters was wide and varied, and they were key in my enjoyment of the book especially since I found the main character, Aurora, to be extremely annoying – at least at first. Aurora benefits from a strong growth arc as she quite literally battles her inner demons and strives to move on from a traumatic past and find her place in the world. Polaris was also a really interesting character to follow, and I really liked how her bond with Aurora developed. The secondary characters were also very well crafted and all memorable in their own way.

One thing I struggled with was the style. The author has a very distinctive voice (which is a good thing!), but I found that often there was little difference between the narrator and the various characters’ voices, which led to some dialogues feeling unnatural and stilted. The book could also have benefited from slightly more editing as several passages appeared quite repetitive in language and descriptions, especially the fight scenes, and this happened just too frequently to gloss over.

There is quite a lot of violence and explicit gore in this book, so it won’t be suitable for younger or sensitive readers. Despite that, The Crimson Witch was a really entertaining read, and I look forward to seeing what Aurora and Polaris get up to next.

Rating: 3.5/4

This review was originally published on Reedsy Discovery on 21st June 2021.

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