Witchfire (Hexed + Hunted #1) ~ Austin Oakley
Witchfire is the first book in a new series by the highly talented Austin Oakley. It is a paranormal romance involving witches and werewolves. However, there is much talk of other supernatural creatures who will likely appear in future books.
I honestly couldn’t believe this was a debut book. It suffered none of the minor faults often found in first novels, particularly around pacing. Instead, the ebb and flow of this novel suited what was happening in the story at any point in time. Overall, the story was fast-paced but slowed at appropriate moments to demonstrate the quieter pace of rural/small-town life.
Character development was very well done with the two main characters, Landon and Rousseau, and the secondary characters, who had significant roles in the story. There were very few minor characters who were not integral to the story; this ensured the action and suspense of the story were maintained throughout.
World-building is another crucial element to this type of story. When setting a story in the 'real' world but incorporating paranormal elements, it's a fine balance between realism and fantasy. In Witchfire, the author was able to capture the slower pace of country town life, this placed the story well and truly in the 'real world'. The faster pace when the paranormal elements came into play, added to the atmosphere of 'other', being a completely different rhythm to the slower 'real world'. These changes of pace indicated to the reader that something was about to happen. They were very subtle and would not even be consciously processed by most readers, but they were important signposts and had a significant impact on the flow and emotional impact of the story. The smooth transition in these variations of pace is another demonstration of a talented writer.
Forgetting the technicalities, Witchfire is just an excellent story. Who is the mysterious Rousseau? Why is Rousseau so sure Landon is 'different'? It is certainly a change from popular typecasting that the werewolf assumes a sinister role. As presented, the werewolf has very few human traits, acting like a more monstrous feral wolf than man. Presenting the werewolf as an antagonist is an interesting direction to take, and for the seasoned paranormal reader is certainly refreshing. Of course, other supernaturals exist in this world, but I won't discuss them for fear of spoilers. Just be assured that there is definitely a line drawn between good and evil, and half the fun is working out ‘who is who’, or more correctly ‘who is what?’
Witchfire is low to medium on the heat scale, but high on the romance factor. I'm a reader who must have romance with my steam. This girl can't survive on heat alone. Although, I would have enjoyed just a bit more steam, after all, Landon and Rousseau were hot together, the romance aspect more than made up for it, and I found the whole thing hugely satisfying.
In my most humble opinion, this book and author are just not being promoted enough. This book is an extremely impressive debut novel, and I can't wait to see how this author's writing style matures and develops.
Austin Oakley is a writer to watch out for, and I, for one, can't wait until his next release.