The Blue Witch

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 16 Oct 2018

Member Reviews

Though I didn't read the original series, this prequel stands alone. This has a little something for everyone--dragons, mythology, magic!
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An enjoyable read - read it in one sitting.

The plot was a little simplistic but that's probably due to it being a middle grade but it was kept moving with lots of action! 

I enjoyed this and would definitely read something else by this author!
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Dnf. Hated the main character. Couldnt get into the story, couldnt relate to anyone at all. Pass, on to the next
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Thank you to NetGallley for providing me with a free digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book was a cute story about a 9-year-old witch who doesn’t quite fit in at her school but she gains inner strength and is able to stand up for herself with the help of a friend. The imagery makes the book come alive and I loved the vivid descriptions of the magical creatures and the characters in the academy.
There is more adventure at the end of the book, some Norse mythology and some hints at more to come in future books in the series.
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I really enjoyed the adventure The Blue Witch took me on. Abigail had a rough beginning, but once she met Hugo life got a little better for her. This friendship helped give her the confidence she needed to keep going on, no matter how cruel people were to her sometimes. Along the way she grows as a person, visits some amazing and dangerous places and learns a few things about her past.
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I loved this book.  I couldn't put it down.  I read the whole thing in one sitting.  This is the fourth book by Alane Adams I have read.  We return to Isle of Orkney.  This time in a prequel.  We learn the origin of Abigail.  Unlike the other Tarkana witches, Abigail cares for other people.  Abigail is mostly a loner.  The other witches either don't want anything to do with her or are bullied into leaving her friendless.  She meets Hugo, a Balfin boy, who becomes her first true friend.  Abigail is also being watched by the gods of Valhalla.  Vor, goddess of wisdom, pays a visit to Abigail and gives her a warning and a option of sanctuary.  

Abigail finds herself constantly in trouble with her classmates.  Endera is her greatest foe.  They were actually friends prior to coming to the Tarkana Academy.  Now, Endera is only concerned only with power and stripping Abigail of her abilities.  With the help of Jasper, Fetch and Hugo, Abigail learns more about her mysterious beginning. She learns who her father was but still knows very little about her mother, Lissandra. When her powers do manifest, they are different than the other Tarkana witches.  If she can not learn to hide this from them, she will be exiled.  Abigail struggles internally with her decisions to be part of the Coven.  She will have to make some hard choices in the very near future.  Will she continue on the path of a dark and powerful witch or will she become something more?  We will have to wait to find out.
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Being a kid who is a little bit different can be tough, but being a witchling who is different feels like a curse. For Abigail Tarkana, that is exactly how she feels as she embarks on a new school year at Tarkana Witch Academy. Not only is Endera, the most popular girl in school, out to make Abigail's life miserable with her trickery, but it seems Abigail won't pass her Spectacular Spells class because her magic appears to be different from all of the other witches. But with the help of her newfound friend, Hugo, Abigail finds her inner strength to stand up for herself. Together the two learn more about Abigail's secret past and find themselves getting into and out of some trouble. From saving Omera babies, to stampeding sneevils, Abigail learns a lot about growing up and becoming a true blue witch. 

Like. Loved. Adored. There aren't enough ways to express how absolutely smitten I am with this novel. I didn't realize this was a prequel to the Legends of Orkney series until after I had already started. It is definitely a book that invites further adventures, and makes me curious to read the other, related series. 

From the characters to the academy to the magical creatures, the imagery Adams creates as the reader ventures into the novel makes the entire book come to life. The deep, dark woods, and the stoic demeanor of the other witches combined with the absolutely darling Abigail leaves the reader feeling slightly nervous but super excited to keep reading. This is definitely a book I will read again, with my students as well as my children. In fact, I have to sign off now, it's time to start our new bedtime story!
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Abigail Tarkana is a nine year old witch, about to enter the Tarkana Witch Academy which is a school for young witches with strict rules. Although Abigail's past is shrouded in secrecy, she is determined to be the greatest witch since her evil ancestor, Catriona, but when her magic fails to come in, she is worried she will be kicked out of the Academy. Not only that, but a strong, young witch in the academy, Endera, seems to harbor a hate against Abigail for no particular reason. The odds seem stacked against Abigail but her resilience is stacked higher. 

One thing I loved about The Blue Witch is that the pages are rich with norse mythology. There's nothing quite like getting a reader to believe in the magical web being spun by implicating mythical lore to create a firm balance for the story to sit upon. 

Especially with this book being targeted at younger readers. I think it's great that children will have the foundation of Norse knowledge if they read this book. 

Unfortunately, I found the plot too Harry Potter-esque to enjoy any originality this story had. Maybe I love Harry Potter that much that I see it in every magic-based children's fiction. Not to say that it's a total imitation - overall, it's a good read with lot's of it's own worth - however; there were far too many similarities for me to find it's own merited entertainment. 

Also, the world building was a bit lack lustre for me, I think that children of almost any age can enjoy a good setting, so the young targeted age group is no excuse, really. But, from what I gather, The Blue Witch is the start of a prequel series, so I would like to imagine that the world building occurs mostly during the main series, however; not wanting to rebuild and set the tone for a new series - even if it is a prequel series - comes across as a bit lazy to me. 

The ending was great. Really ominous and promising. If I was younger I would probably love this book.

Thank you to Net Galley for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I would like to thank NetGalley, Alane Adams, and SparkPress for the opportunity to read The Blue Witch in exchange for an honest review.

Some books on NetGalley are only available on the Adobe Digital Editions reader, and some formats are a challenge to read. As this file from NetGalley was (I couldn't increase the document size). So, I put this one off for a bit. A happenstance upon a Twitter post by @RiseUpFdn, although a few months old, held promise of a physical copy of The Blue Witch, so I asked for one! They were very polite and sent a copy right away (much better than reading on the Adobe app). Unexpectedly, not only was the book sent with one day shipping, but came in a gorgeous box featuring the novel, as well as some awesome goodies, including a pencil, notepad, pin, postcards, and bookmarks! How above and beyond unexpected. I am a happy reader.

The Blue Witch, like its original counterpart, The Red Sun, has a matte cover, which is nice with its unique feel, but also gets full of fingerprints very easily! It also curves, too, but goes back to normal after letting it sit under another book for a bit. I also love how the cover correlates to the original series covers, and demonstrates friendship and adventure, part of what this book is about.

Abigail was a Tarkana witch long before she became a mother (she's Sam's mom). But her magic is a bit odd: it's blue, rather than green, an abnormal color that places her in the path of danger. With a mysterious parentage and a struggle to reach her magic, Abigail is a bit strange when it comes to being a witch. Hugo, a Balfin boy, befriends Abigail and tells her how he studies witches and magic, and he just might be able to help her learn. 

Another character that readers who started with The Red Sun might be familiar with is the witch Endera. I feel like her mother influences her badness, but she's still not exactly the ideal friend. It was interesting to see a bit of the influence that developed Endera as the bad witch of the future. 

There are also nice little hints to the events to happen in The Red Sun, which was fun, and didn't draw from the focus of The Blue Witch. We learn what an Omera actually looks like (illustrations, yay), which I also really liked. This book has roughly one illustration per chapter (with a few exceptions), similar to the cover. They are very cute and I feel they are just enough of an addition to make the novel more involved. The novel itself has a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it, with Abigail at the academy, taking magic and potion classes. While that idea is a bit old, the rest feels fresh and fun. Aside from a few references to The Red Sun and Odin himself, the Norse mythology didn't really filter through, but it didn't really need to. This story about finding oneself is just the right length for middle grade: not too short, not too long at approximately 200 pages with light, elegant prose and fun dialogue.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and want to see where the next book goes: The Rubicus Prophecy! Not to mention, I need to finish the Legends of Orkney trilogy! My experience with SparkPress and Alane Adams has been nothing but amazing so far, an author for young readers of our time!
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Witches? School story? Magical beasts? Brave, headstrong girls? Yup, I was sold on this book instantly – it’s as if it was written for me! Luckily, it did more than just tick plot boxes, it was utterly charming and magical. It’s got a wonderful mix of adventure, friendship, and witchery!

I didn’t realise until I had already finished it, but The Blue Witch is a prequel to Adams’ other series, The Legends of Orkney, and focuses on the main character of that series’s mum when she was a child. I thought it stood alone perfectly – nothing was confusing and I felt at home in the world instantly. Abigail felt like a wonderfully realistic character in her own right, and there is no prior knowledge needed to fall in love with her. However, I’m definitely going to be picking up the other books, because there are plenty of hints at the prophecy which forms a major plot point in The Legends of Orkney books.

Abigail was a perfect example of my favourite type of heroine – she’s clever, resourceful, brave and stubborn. And a witch. I really loved getting to know her as she tackled her classes and her bullies, and as she learned about the truth behind her history and the uniqueness of her magic. I loved that sometimes she was extremely logical, and sometimes completely impulsive – it made me like her a lot to see that she was still learning how to handle things. I think I would have worshipped her if I’d have read this as a kid. She’d be great friend with Mildred Hubble, that’s for sure!

The other characters are also very fun, from bully Endora (who we actually find out is bullied herself, by her mother), to the proud and loyal Calla (whose magic hasn’t come in yet), to the inquisitive and supportive Hugo (a non-witch who befriends Abigail). The teachers are an array of weird and wonderful caricatures, which always helps create humour and tension in children’s books. Even Abigail’s mother, who has died well before the story starts, is a vivid presence. I got the sense that there was a lot of complexity to this world, and I can’t wait to read more.

There’s an excellent balance of high stakes and more mundane events – if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that my pet peeve with magical school stories is when there isn’t enough about the actual school! But we get to see several lessons, and the school itself is really well described, so you get a feel for the system and the teachers and the society that they are creating. Towards the end of the book, there’s much more adventure, but the doing-well-at-school plot never fades entirely into the background, which was brilliant. There’s also a spot of Norse mythology thrown in, which brings a slightly more serious aspect to the story, as it hints at machinations on a much larger scale. These will presumably become much more apparent as the story continues.

The Blue Witch was an excellent read, and will quickly become a favourite for any middle grade readers who enjoy a fantastic heroine, an interesting school, and a great adventure. I definitely recommend it if you loved Witch Wars, Witch for a Week or The Worst Witch!

Five out of five witch’s cats!
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Thank you to Sparks Press for the arc of this book, I actually really enjoyed this book, too short for my liking but an enjoyable let’s get to know all the main players and a bit of back history, so you get to understand the history of where the story is going head.
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2.5 Stars. The simplistic nature of the story seems to work on the presumption that middle grade kids can’t understand a good plot.  For example, the most famous magical prep school book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers (Philosophers) Stone, came out when I was in 6th grade.  It’s nearly impossible not to compare other books in this genre with Harry Potter.  I was 11 and I devoured it in just a couple days.  At 11, The Blue Witch would have put me to sleep, and I probably would have put it down in exchange for something with a meatier story. 

Abigail is bullied by the other witches at her school.  Even when they lie about her to teachers, she just sits there being the victim with tears in her eyes.  This happened twice in the beginning of the book, and didn’t feel like a realistic depiction of how children react.  The kids I have spent time with all seem to focus on what is fair, and any one of them would have protested that it wasn’t fair that they were being punished for another kid’s lies.  Bullying was a very real issue for me in middle school, and the harassment that I was ashamed to tell adults about was much more violent and nasty than what Endera did to Abigail.  

Another aspect of the bullying that bothered me was that I didn’t understand the motivation behind it.  I could not figure out why Abigail was being picked on, since she didn’t seem particularly peculiar, other than letting the bullies get away with their harassment.  Was Endera’s mother abusive towards her and so she was perpetuating the cycle of abuse?  Was she jealous of Abigail in some way?  Did Abigail do something to cause a grudge between herself and Endera?  The bullying seemed to come out of nowhere with little context about why it was happening.  There was a squandered opportunity here for the author to give depth to the bullies.  Later on, Endera’s mother demands she get rid of Abigail, but why would an adult have her child do her bidding?  It doesn’t make sense. 

The adults in the books, such as the teachers and headmaster, seemed very cruel, and evil, and had me hoping that Abigail would get expelled so that she could go home, and have a normal life, free of the witches and the awful school.  When Abigail gets her witchfire, she is too scared to show her teachers, which wasn’t really explained to me, other than the witchfire was blue instead of green.  Why would she be scared to tell anyone she got her magic, when not getting her magic could lead to expulsion?  I failed to understand that motive.  

Also, what kind of a child doesn’t ask about how their mother died?

When kids read, they are absorbing information about how the world around them works.  This book had characters acting for no other reason than to progress the plot, which caused them to seem wooden and bland.  Children need quality characters with personality and realistic psyches. 

Overall, I wished these characters had more complexity and life to them. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free copy of this ebook in exchange for an unbiased review.
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Very enjoyable, fast paced adventure story.  Loved all the mythological elements in the story, great characters and lovely illustrations
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unfortunately I couldn't read this because when I opened the file in aldiko reader and I tried to open it in bluefire reader as well, I couldn't read any of it because it was really zoomed in. 
this was a shame because I was genuinely excited to read this, and already reading all the positive reviews on goodreads makes me really disappointed that I was not able to read it. but I will definitely try and get my hands on it when it is released into bookstores.
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