By: Charissa Weaks
Genre: Romantic Fantasy
Publisher: City Owl Press
CONTENT/TRIGGER WARNINGS: Shown on page: Child Murder; Violence; Battle (some mild gore, blood); Animal Violence (crow); Adult Language; Open-door Love Scene; Loss of Parent; Grief and Guilt.
Alluded to: Suicidal Ideation
“It’s been eight long years since the Witch Collector took my sister…
Some women long for a husband. A home. Children. Others desire feverish kisses in the shadows, whispers of seduction against their skin. Me? I want my family. Together and free. I also want the Witch Collector and the Frost King.
Charissa Weaks, The Witch Collector
The Witch Collector, by Charissa Weaks, was a truly enjoyable fantasy. It was different from what I typically read, but it was a refreshing change. I have read only one other romantic fantasy, and along with The Witch collector, I am convinced I need to add it to my fantasy genre. It’s nice to have some spice in fantasy along with a great story. Ms. Weaks’s The Witch Collector is a unique tale with witches, god kings, evil forces, and the dynamic of enemies to lovers. The main protagonist is Raina Bloogood, who cannot speak and is a witch. Most people in the land of Tiressia manifest different types of magic, and some are stronger than others. Raina lives in the cold Northland, where the Frost King rules. During the harvest moon, a celebration for the village of Silver Hollow, is when the Witch Collector comes and leads one of them away to the Frost King, never to return. Raina lost her sister, Nephele, and now is determined to kill them both using an ancient knife, the God Knife, given to her by her father. This year, everything changes in the blink of an eye. The Eastlanders, led by the evil Prince of the East, rides through the Northlands, wiping out every village in their path. The Witch Collector fights the Eastlanders, tries save the villagers, and heads to Silver Hollow to warn them. There will be no collecting this harvest, only trying to survive. In the aftermath, it is only Raina and the Witch Collector left in her village. Nothing, however, is ever as it seems. It was so well written as we feel the despair and horror of what the Eastlanders have done. Raina is despondent over the loss of her mother and her friends, and becomes set on revenge. I was swept up in this romantic adventure from the first to the last page.
Raina is an amazing protagonist. She is stubborn, smart, and when she sets her mind on a task she doesn’t waver. I liked the fact that she cannot speak as I felt that her needing to sign put so much more feeling into what she wants to communicate. I also loved that this was not portrayed as a weakness, but in fact her strength. All witches are marked with intricate patterns of lines that often glow. Raina had very few, but she is more powerful than she knows. Her mother was also a powerful witch who was able to dampen her marks so as not to be a target for the Witch Collector. Raina has always hated the Witch Collector, but dressed in his dark cloak, no one ever saw him. When he rides to fight with Silver Vale, he is wounded and will die without her help. One of her powers is the ability to heal, and he is the only person left who can lead her to her sister, so against all of her hate, she heals him. She is also a seer, able to scry water and see people or threats that may be coming. It was she The Witch Collector was coming for, as her ability was essential to save the kingdom. Where she once only knew the Witch Collector as a villian, in the aftermath of the attack, Raina now she sees the beautifully handsome man, Alexus Thibault, whom she must ally with if she is to see her sister and stop the Eastlanders. He is gentle and kind, and she learns to trust him, all while trying to ignore the connection and attraction that is growing between them.
Alexus is not happy about his job as Witch Collector. However, their magic is needed to protect the kingdom. I couldn’t help but love him as much as I did Raina. He feels the loss of the villagers that were killed in the attacks, and feels he could have done more to protect them. Like Raina, he is man with strong emotions. Alexus knows that Raina hates him, yet she healed him. He must also tell her that her sister is happy and in love with the Frost King, Colden Moeshka. While she doesn’t believe it at first, she has not seen her sister in eight years, and much can change in that time. Colden and Alexus are like brothers, and he feels very protective of him. He knows Raina hates him as well, but he also tells her what she knows about him is not what she has been told. Alexus must still earn her trust so they can travel together to navigate the Frostwater Wood to reach the Winterhold, home of Colden, before the Eastlanders. Alexus, like Raina, is also fighting the obvious attraction and connection between them.
This is a romantic story of enemies to lovers. While it is a trope, tropes are great when written well and take unexpected turns. The Witch Collector is one of them. Raina and Alexus cannot deny their connection and attraction. He will do anything to protect her from harm, and she does the same with Alexus. She is also not the “damsel in distress”, and can fight just as hard as Alexus. As they travel, she realizes she cannot hate this complex, gentle man. A man who can be fierce as well as protective when it comes to Raina. He has dark secrets he has yet to reveal, and he is afraid that telling her will drive her away. Their relationship is special and I enjoyed it. Alexus learned her sign language from Nephele, so he can communicate with her. It was so wonderful that when she communicated strong feelings, she often put her hands to his chest, or over his heart and signed. I have read non-fantasy romance in the past. In these stories, it is typical that the female protagonist is a virgin. However, perhaps that has changed recently as I don’t read romance, but it was my experience in the past. It became tiring. In The Witch Collector, Raina has had relationships and it is taken in stride, so to speak, and there is no stigma. In fact, it is never mentioned. I absolutely loved that a woman can have relationships as much as men, and it’s simply how one chooses to live their life.
The pacing and prose were excellent. It was well paced, with action interspersed with Raina and Alexus traversing the Northland to get to Colden and Nephele. These quieter moments allow us to see the relationship between Raina and Alexus bloom and grow. The action scenes were spot on. Ms. Weaks knows her way around romance and action, and how to perfectly weave them together. The story is told in the first-person perspective of both Raina and Alexus. Chapters were dedicated to each one. It was a perfect choice as we need to know what each is thinking. We feel the angst and battle inside Raina as she must come to terms with her strong and growing feelings for a man she once hated, and feeling a connection to him through her magic. Alexus is also trying not to get caught up in his growing feelings for her, but can’t deny that he seems to have always felt this way. I loved their connection and seeing it grow-from enemies to lovers.
The Witch Collector by Charissa Weaks was a wonderful romantic fantasy that swept me away to another world. We all need romance, and it’s even better when it’s woven into a page turning fantasy. Raina Bloodgood, a mute witch, must battle her feelings for a man who is sent every year to collect a witch from the Northland. One was her sister, taken eight years prior. He is Alexus Thibault, and nothing that she expected. When her world is destroyed in one night by an evil Prince, she must learn to trust this man. The man who caught her when everything fell apart. The fact that she cannot speak did not make her vulnerable, which I thought was so important. Quite the opposite. Raina is stubborn, steadfast, feels deeply, and protects those she loves. Alexus, though they don’t realize, is her perfect match. Their banter and chemistry are palpable, and it was just a joy to see their growing feelings for each other. Not just feelings, but a beautiful connection that binds them together. It is all set against the backdrop of stopping an evil force arising from the east, the Eastlanders, led by the Prince of the East. The Witch Collector has a bit of everything: action, battles (though not gory), magic, and the perfect spice of romance. It is all woven into an amazing page turning adult fantasy story that I could not put down. The Witch Collector is an adult fantasy that I thoroughly adored. I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I highly recommend The Witch Collector.
Summary (from Escapist Tours)
Every harvest moon, the Witch Collector rides into our valley and leads one of us to the home of the immortal Frost King, to remain forever.
Today is that day—Collecting Day.
But he will not come for me. I, Raina Bloodgood, have lived in this village for twenty-four years, and for twenty-four years he has passed me by.
Raina Bloodgood has one desire: kill the Frost King and the Witch Collector who stole her sister. On Collecting Day, she means to exact murderous revenge, but a more sinister threat sets fire to her world. Rising from the ashes is the Collector, Alexus Thibault, the man she vowed to slay and the only person who can help save her sister.
Thrust into an age-old story of ice, fire, and ancient gods, Raina must abandon vengeance and aid the Witch Collector in saving the Frost King or let their empire—and her sister—fall into enemy hands. But the lines between good and evil blur, and Raina has more to lose than she imagined. What is she to do when the Witch Collector is no longer the villain who stole her sister, but the hero who’s stealing her heart?
My sincere thanks to Charissa Weaks for a copy of the book and beautiful art cards of the characters.
My sincere thanks to Escapist Tours for providing me with both copy the eBook.
Find out more about Charissa Weaks on her website: https://charissaweaks.com/
Purchase The Witch Collector on Amazon