Review: These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling

Title: These Witches Don’t Burn
Series: These Witches Don’t Burn
Author: Isabel Sterling
Release Date: May 28, 2019
Publisher: Razorbill
Pages: 336

Content Warnings: death of a parent, animal death, car accident, relationship violence (emotional), gaslighting, gun violence, arson

This post does contain affiliate links. I will receive a small amount from any purchases made through Book Depository at no extra cost to you.

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly By Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.

Isabel Sterling’s delightful, suspenseful debut is equal parts sweet romance and thrilling mystery. With everything she loves on the line, Hannah must confront this murderous villain before her coven–and any chance she has with the new girl–is destroyed.

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These Witches Don’t Burn is a fast paced debut that kept me eagerly turning pages. It isn’t often I read books in one sitting, life is just a little too crazy, but this is one that I did. Isabel Sterling’s writing style is smooth and easy – her words flow together perfectly which makes tearing through the story effortless.

We stay like that for a long time. Until, finally, something inside starts to stitch itself back together.

these witches don’t burn by isabel sterling

All of the characters were wonderfully authentic, diverse, and they each brought something unique to the book. I loved that I never quite knew what they would say or do next. Hannah is definitely one of my favorite queer characters. Something I really admired about her was how she stood up for herself in so many situations, but she still knew the perfect times to put other people first. She is so much stronger than I think she gives herself credit for.

[Related – Seven of My Favorite Queer Characters]

The magic aspect of this book is really special. Sterling did a great job of taking something with old roots and giving it a few modern twists. One of my favorite things was how those practicing Wicca were still considered to be doing magic, it just wasn’t possible for them to do it to the same full extent those in the coven could.

We did see Hannah practice some magic, but mostly it was all talked about and I definitely wish there had been more on page actually happening with her learning and playing around with it outside of a high stakes situation.

If they had any clue what real witches were like, what we’re capable of… They probably wouldn’t sleep very well at night.

these witches don’t burn by isabel sterling

While I found myself reading this quickly because I wanted to know what was going on, I noticed that things did get repetitive a few times. Somebody was in trouble and Hannah has to go save them. Different people and different locations, but essentially the same.

One thing that I feel contributed to this issue is that there weren’t any huge themes that I could pick out at any point in the story. I’m not saying that every book needs to have some great message or huge literary themes, but I do like to see a little more in what I read.

I definitely don’t regret reading These Witches Don’t Burn at all and I’m looking forward to reading more of Hannah’s story in the sequel. It’s such a quick read, something I’m always grateful for, and one I recommend giving a shot. There’s a little something for everybody in these pages.

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