Imagine a world where being a witch is like being left-handed: it’s not a trait held by the majority of the population, but it’s acknowledged and accepted by everyone. You now have the setting for Burn Mark, a book which follows two British teenagers as they discover that witches aren’t always what they were taught to believe.
Glory has been dreaming of becoming a witch for as long as she can remember, but while her day-dreams bring her joy, every night she dreams of a balefire (the place where they burn criminally convicted witches) where she is the one on the stake, and yet the reflection is that of her long-lost mother. The youngest in her family, Glory has grown up on a housing estate home to a once infamous, but now sketchy, witch coven which she dreams of returning to its former heights. Glory has been taught to hold trust above everything else, so when she discovers her beloved great-aunt has been betraying the family to the Inquisitors, she has to rethink everything she had previously thought.
Lucas is the son of the high inquisitor and expects he will follow in the grand tradition of his family and become a witch-hunter. There has never been a witch in his family, and he wouldn’t even want to think about the shame it would bring if someone were to change (witches do not become witches until their late teens or early twenties). Lucas has lived a life of privilege and wealth, and is seen as the Most Likely To Succeed by all who meet him.
And then the unexpected happens, and suddenly Glory and Lucas find themselves together – somewhere neither thought they’d ever be – and fighting for their lives.
Burn Mark is a gripping read which successfully tells both sides of the story. I found myself able to sympathise with the witches after the persecution they increasingly faced, but could also understand where the witch-hunters were coming from. The changing perspective of narration allows for in-depth character development and a deeper understanding of the backgrounds of everyone involved.
Burn Mark takes the popular Paranormal YA genre and gives it a bit of a twist, leaving us with an enjoyable read that contains magic, but also enough of our own world that it’s easy to fall into the setting and the heads of the characters.
Available now: Allen & Unwin RRP$15.99
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