Summary: Divided by their order. United by their vengeance.
Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom – and vengeance.
Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power.
Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain – except the lengths they will go to win this game.
This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes.
Thank you so much Colored Pages Tours for selecting me to be a part of this tour! I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Click on the banner below to view the schedule of this tour.
Title: Witches Steeped in Gold
Author: Ciannon Smart
Publisher: HarperTeen / Harper Collins
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Witches Steeped in Gold is a refreshing, powerful fantasy debut that you should watch out for. Jamaican inspired world, powerful witches, politics and a unique magic system, this book has it all. One of the best things about reading it was finding out the reason behind the title.
When you see a cover and synopsis like that, its hard not be intrigued and well Witches Steeped in Gold delivers on that note. Jazmyne and Iraya are both strong, ambitious characters apart but their tenuous alliance added flavour to the story. They’re both willing to do whatever it takes, to go behind each other’s backs if it means achieving their goals.
Where Iraya has quick wit and humour to her narrative, Jazmyne is related to her mannerisms (and terrible decisions). While they have a common enemy it’s their backstories that play an important role in their decisions which was very interesting to read. They both go all out for their respective orders. As a reader we realise there’s really no hero or villain here. Morally grey characters are something, aren’t they? Especially if they’re women.
❛Spending a lifetime pinned, like a butterfly to a board, seems like a waste when I was made to fly.❜
The magic system and the Jamaican folklore included in the worldbuilding is brilliantly written. I always love reading about worlds inspired by different cultures so this was a major plus point for the book. There’s gold, pirates, magical animals and rival orders. I remember reading about Smart’s inspiration behind it in an interview which made it all the more fascinating to read about it. We have two different orders, with different philosophies and ways of working, each believing that the other is wrong.
It takes time to come to terms with the rivalry between the orders, the geography, the characters involved and what’s at stake as a whole, but as the chapters progressed I was looking forward to what would come next. The worldbuilding in particular makes it easier to learn about the island it’s set in.
I also liked the addition of the side characters, all equally important and well done.
This book stayed true to its tagline: “Trust no witch”.
Coming to what I didn’t like was the pacing, which remained same throughout the book. The plot unravels rather slow, I was not engrossed as much as I’d like to have been especially because at times I couldn’t tell the two POVs apart. I do think the length of the book, 500 pages, has to do with it. It took too much time for me to delve into the plot.
There’s also light romance, which also I wasn’t particularly invested in. Though I must say Kirdan is a character I have my eyes on.
All in all, Witches Steeped in Gold is a masterfully crafted debut by Smart and I’d recommend it to readers looking for intricate fantasies and scheming women (re: witches) characters. I’m looking forward to what happens in the sequel! Don’t let me deter you from reading this one.
❛Perhaps it’s time to do whatever it takes to remove the doyenne from the throne. Even if it means sitting on it myself earlier than planned.❜
Ciannon Smart grew up in a small town in the south-east of England. As the only daughter in a house full of boisterous sons, she developed a voracious appetite for reading from an early age, preferring anarchy in stories rather than real life. In YA she loves her heroines exactly as she loves her villains: wilful, wily, and unpredictable. When not writing, Ciannon can be found reading, painting, or taking the long way home to listen to a good song more than once.
Two finished copies will be provided. This giveaway would only be available for residents in the UK and the commonwealth. The giveaway will start on 20th April and end on 30th April. Click here to enter.