Welcome my stop, albeit late, on the TBR and Beyond Tours Book Tour for The Bitterwine Oath by Hannah West. I was so excited to read this book! Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to see the tour schedule from other content creators.
Meet Hannah West
Hannah West is the author of young adult books including The Nissera Chronicles series and The Bitterwine Oath. She’s been writing fantasy since kindergarten, when she penned her first tale about a princess who ran away and lived at the top of a flagpole with two loaves of bread. But it wasn’t until she studied abroad in Orléans, France during college that the premise for her first novel materialized. The fairy tale castles, the snowy winter days, and a Disney princess pencil that arrived in a care package from her parents provided the inspiration that allowed her to wrangle all her untold and unfinished stories into a novel.
Hannah currently lives in the Dallas area with her husband and their two rambunctious rescue dogs.
About The Bitterwine Oath
Title: The Bitterwine Oath
Author: Hannah West
Publisher: Holiday House
Publishing Date: December 1, 2020
Page Length: 340
Age Range: YA
Rating: 3.5 ⭐
Synopsis: Every fifty years, a cult claims twelve men to murder in a small Texas town. Can one girl end the cycle of violence – and save the boy who broke her heart?
San Solano, Texas is a quaint town known for its charm, hospitality, and history of murder. Twice now, twelve men have been brutally killed, and no one knows who did it. A shadowy witch? A copy-cat killer? Or a man-hating murderess? Eighteen-year-old Natalie Colter is sure that the rumors about her great-great-grandmother’s cult of wronged women are just gossip, but that doesn’t stop the true crime writers and dark tourism bloggers from capitalizing on the town’s reputation. It’s an urban legend that’s hard to ignore, and it gets harder when Nat learns that the sisterhood is real, and magical. And they want her to join.
The more Nat learns of the Wardens’ supernatural history, the more she wonders about the real culprits behind the town’s ritualistic murders. Are the Wardens protecting San Solano from even darker forces? As the anniversary of the murders draws near, the town grows restless. Residents start getting “claimed” as this year’s planned victims, including Levi Langford, the boy whose kiss haunted Nat for a year.
Nat knows that no one is safe. Can she and the sisterhood stop the true evil from claiming their town?
This book isn’t exactly what I had thought it would be – that isn’t bad, just threw me when I first started. This isn’t a story about a cult – well not exactly anyways. And that was the biggest hurtle for me when reading this book. This is of course my fault since I didn’t fully read the synopsis (I rarely do).
Once I got over my original misconceptions about the book, I started to really enjoy the story. West’s writing is easy to get sucked into. The characters are easy to relate to. You can see why Nat may not be trusting of the Warden’s and that trust is constantly being strained when she does start to. With Nat’s lack of (consistent) trust in the Warden, I found myself suspicious of many of the parties. Then, like Nat, there would be moments where I lose all suspicions and wanting to learn more about the magic system.
The magic system itself isn’t unique – it follows the nature principles that many other magic systems have in the past – however, the unique aspect of this book/magic system is the creation of the creatures themselves. These creatures, once Nat (and the readers) finally see past the magical vail, are amazingly unique and interesting. I wish we got to examine them more.
In between chapters we got to read some excerpts from a character’s book. I wanted more! I found them so interesting and added so much to what we were learning about the town/cult/magic system. I wish we had more in between chapters – it wasn’t between each chapter – and less of other components.
The one part of this that felt out of place was the romance. I get it – the reasoning behind adding the romance – it helped connect some parts of the story. But honest, I didn’t feel the connection to this other person and the other person felt flat (void of emotions at times). They felt underdeveloped and honestly interchangeable with other characters at times.
That being said, I really did enjoy this book and do recommend the read. It would be a great fall/transitional read (despite it taking place over the summer). The spooky vibes did eventually ramp up, but not to the point where I believe our scary-cat readers couldn’t handle it.
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