By: Charissa Weaks
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Publisher: City Owl Press
WARNING: There will be spoilers for The Witch Collector
CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS: Content and trigger warnings can be found at the end of the book, clearly marked for each book on Charissa Weaks’ website: https://charissaweaks.com/content-warnings
“I think I’ve loved you my entire life,” I whisper. “And when we’re both gone, I will love you still.”
Charissa Weaks, The City of Ruin
The City of Ruin, by Charissa Weaks, is the second novel in The Witchwalker Series. The more I read this series, the more I truly love it. The main story centers around Raina Bloodgood and Alexus Thibault. Alexus and Raina’s relationship is firmly established in City of Ruin, and the intensity of how they feel leaps off the pages. I love how their relationship has evolved and how comfortable they are with each other. In The City of Ruin, in addition to characters from The Witch Collector, we also meet new pivotal characters. The magic system continues to grow and the world building was phenomenal. There is representation, which I always look for in my books now. Raina cannot speak, there are many characters that are representative of the LBGTQIA+ community, and the use of pronouns is as important as well, with characters using they/them. The book picks up right after The Witch Collector, as Raina, Alexus, Nephele, Hel, Rhonin, and Joran, head toward the City of Ruin to stop the Prince of the East from resurrecting the god Thamaos. Colden Moeshka, the former King of North, his magic stripped, is still a prisoner of the Prince, who needs him, Alexus and Raina, to bring the cruel, dark god back to life. The supporting characters are wonderful, but Alexus and Raina are a pure joy to read. When they are together, there are so many emotions I feel. The scenes where they love (yes, it is explicit sex, but it’s love to me), are powerful and leave me breathless. There is vulnerability in both of them, Alexus is so afraid of loosing Raina, and Raina always has in the back of her mind that Alexus can die at any moment since his immortality is tied to Colden. These moments we catch them in a different intensity, one that makes them hold on to the time they have with each other a precious gift. I felt happiness, anger, and I even cried when I read the City of Ruin. Once again, I was swept away into the world of Raina and Alexus, and they kept me entranced from the first to the last page. Any fan of romantic fantasy should absolutely add this series to the top of their list.
Raina and Alexus together are certainly a force to be reckoned with. His powerful magic is returning, and Raina is learning more about her own magic. There is a darkness she senses in herself, she calls the abyss, but she does not know what it is or what it can do. Alexus and Raina are tied to each other through the bond rune Alexus made in The Witch Collector to pull her back from the shadow world. I love the concept of the bond, where their life magic is entangled and they can feel each other and call to each other. Alexus also shares the life bond of Colden, so when Raina entangles her magic with Alexus, she sees her life threads, Alexus, and Colden’s as well. She is a strong woman, even as protective as Alexus is. Raina has her own mind and will do what she thinks is necessary to protect those she loves. In the passion they share for each other, we often see the vulnerability as well. Having Raina not being able to speak and communicating through sign language was an excellent choice. I like representation in books, and having a non-speaking strong main character is wonderful representation. She is far from helpless and most often, her needing help is in translation. While she does need Alexus for protection at time, he needs just as much. In addition, I felt that her not being able to speak, we read many of her emotions through her body language and facial expressions. I found it more powerful and intimate in the love scenes with Alexus, as he can read her so well, and she can read him. I love to see the man who was once Alexi of Ghent and Un Drallag, has a fear like no other:
“I don’t know what I would do if something happened to you, Raina. That is my greatest fear. I cannot explain it, just like I can’t explain much about my feelings when it comes to you. I only know that I would roll this world of its axis if I lost you.”
Charissa Weaks, The City of Ruin
We see the same vulnerability in Raina, the woman who not long ago, was ready to kill the man she knows she can never be without. They are perfect.
“…I felt the same, although now I realize that if I lost him, it would be me who lost their balance. I would never be the same. I would rage for ages, until my pain was met.”
Charissa Weaks, The City of Ruin
In the City of Ruin, we get to know some of the other characters better. In addition to Raina and Alexus, several chapters are told in the first person of Nephele, Colden, the Prince with No Name (the Eastern Prince), and a new character, Fluerie. Nephele is a force to be reckoned with herself. She has powerful magic that makes and takes down complex magical constructs. Her path in this story was something I could never have predicted and I’m looking forward to see how it develops. I fell in love with Colden. Even as a prisoner of the prince, who very clearly has a past connection to Colden, he taunts the prince with his continual sarcastic jokes. It was wonderful to see more of Colden and I hope to see even more in future books. There are several chapters devoted to the Prince with No Name, but I feel revealing too much will lead to spoiler territory. A new character is Fluerie, who has a very interesting back story. She is the daughter of Thamaos, and hates her cruel father. His potential resurrection haunts her, as the Prince will use her magical ability to create temporary portals, to transport them to where her father is buried. Much of her story is, for me, spoiler territory, suffice to say that I felt sorrow for her.
Hel and Rhonin are back. Rhonin is magicless, but that proves to be an asset in addition to his tremendous strength. There is a clear attraction between them, and a slow burn relationship is brewing. We know at the end of The Witch Collector, that Raina sees the survivors of her home, including Finn, and they will meet up soon. Finn wasn’t my favorite character. I felt that he assumed he had some claim over Raina, as they were once lovers. She loves him, but as her best friend. Raina never made it a secret that her intention was to kill Alexus and leave their home. She never wanted to stay, and Finn was not going to leave. Their lives were already going in different directions. When they catch up, Finn naturally assumes Raina will now resume a relationship with him as he doesn’t know she is with Alexus. I do understand his anger, but they ended their romance, and his actions were as if Raina was simply going to do what he wanted. It’s not bad to dislike a character, or feel annoyance. When a character elicits a strong response from a reader, then it’s truly great writing. I did come to like Finn when he realizes that although he loves Raina, and she loves him, she does not and never will love him like she does Alexus. He lets her go, and I found both respect and sadness for him.
I love Hel, Raina, and Nephele. They know how strong they are together. As much as Alexus and Rhonin are protective, they will have none of it. They are just as invested in this fight as they are, and they are capable of taking care of each other. This strong female presence was a “sisterhood” of strong female protagonists.
“I understand Alexus’s need to keep things quiet,” Nephele says, flashing her eyes at me. “But you are not alone. Before you go tearing into any battle yourself, be sure we are at your side. We’re stronger together than apart.”
Charissa Weaks, The City of Ruin
The pacing and prose were excellent. It was well paced, with action interspersed with the group traversing Tiressia to get to the City of Ruin to stop the resurrection of Thamaos and rescue Colden. There were the quieter moments where we the relationship between Raina and Alexus grow even stronger. We get to know the other characters as well, and see many other relationships aside from Alexus and Raina. The various places they visit, the travel they endure, and finally get the City of Ruin. Each place was unique and beautifully developed. Ms. Weaks take you into the cities and forests and you feel as if you are walking and traveling along with them. I cannot recommend this series enough. I read all genres of fantasy, and romantic fantasy is new to me. I would veer away from it and I admit to passing judgment before reading. I am finding these novels to be a beautiful change from other fantasy genres, and I love it as much as I love the others. The Witchwalker Series is certainly a must read for fans of romantic fantasy, and I would encourage others to perhaps try something out of their comfort zone if you are fine with the “content warning”.
The City of Ruin, by Charissa Weaks, is the second amazing and beautiful entry in The Witchwalker Series. I can’t get enough of Raina and Alexus and watching their incredible relationship grow, with a connection so powerful it leaps off the pages. Their magic is also growing, and Raina is discovering powers she never knew she had. Nepehele’s character arc is very surprising, and nothing I expected at all. I love the first-person narrative. We can sense Alexus’s vulnerability of ever loosing Raina, and Raina’s fear of his immortality tied to Colden, especially with Colden prisoner of the Prince with No Name. Colden is a joy, with his constant sarcastic barbs at the Prince, even as a prisoner. We get new perspectives as well, Nephele, Colden, Fluerie, and the Prince. Fluerie is a new character, one I felt immense sadness for, whose magic ability is to open portals. Much of Fleurie’s and the Prince’s narrative, for me, delves too much into spoiler territory. The character development is, as always, just brilliant. Raina and Alexus’s relationship grows, and there is certainly more to it that we can sense. Adding in the narratives of the other characters was essential to the story, so we could see their perspective and the story unfolds. That pacing was excellent and perfectly executed, with action interspersed with character development. I was run through a gamut of emotions; joy, happiness, sadness, and anger. There were many times I cried, laughed, and loved what I was reading. The City of Ruin is an adult fantasy in The Witchwalker series that I absolutely adored as much as I did The Witch Collector. I eagerly await the next book in the series, and I highly recommend both The City of Ruin and The Witch Collector.
Summary (from Charissa Weaks)
The night the Prince of the East razed her village, Raina Bloodgood’s life changed forever. Forced into someone else’s war—and into the arms of the Witch Collector, Alexus Thibault—Raina discovered that everything she believed was wrong, and that she was capable of far more than anyone imagined.
Now, the Prince of the East has taken the Frost King as a pawn in his war against the Summerlands, causing Alexus’s life to hang in the balance. To thwart the prince’s endgame and prevent the Tiressian empire from returning to an age of gods, Raina, Alexus, and a band of Northlanders race against the sands of time to reach a mystical desert land where merciless assassins lurk around every corner.
In the midst of tragedy, Raina and Alexus fight to stay together and alive, all while a nefarious presence follows them straight to the jeweled gates of the Summerland queen’s citadel—the City of Ruin. With much to fear, it’s the terror of a past she shouldn’t remember that Raina cannot cast from her dreams.
A past that’s determined to find her. One way or another.
My sincere thanks to Charissa Weaks for a copy of the eBook ARC.
Review for The Witch Collector
Find out more about Charissa Weaks on her website: https://charissaweaks.com/
Purchase The Witch Collector and City of Ruin of Charissa Weaks’ Etsy Shop
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CHARISSA WEAKS is an award-winning author of romantic and historical fantasy. She crafts stories with time travel, magick, myth, history, and the occasional apocalyptic quest. She’s a foodie and book-buying coffee addict who loves to travel and visit antique stores. She believes the souls of memories live in shadowy places and inside the things we cast away.
Charissa resides just south of Nashville with her family, two wrinkly English Bulldogs, and the sweetest German Shepherd in existence. When she’s not writing, you can find Charissa lost in a good book or digging through four-hundred-year-old texts for research. To keep up with her writing endeavors and to gain access to writing freebies and book giveaways, join her newsletter, The Monthly Courant or join her facebook group, Rebel Readers.