Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Bitterwine Oath by Hannah West

If there is a better month to read Gothic novels than October, I haven't found it yet. When I heard about the premise of THE BITTERWINE OATH and how it revolved around death cults and witches, my internal trash monster went "YAAAAASS." Set in a fictional town in Texas, BITTERWINE OATH is about a teenage girl named Nat who is the descendant of a woman named Malachi who is potentially responsible for two separate sets of murders many, many years ago.

I wanted to like this more than I did. It's a very slow book and takes a while to get moving. Once it does, it ended up going in a direction I wasn't expecting. In some ways, it reminds me of the Blue Is for Nightmares series that I devoured as a child, only with less magic and mystery. I did like the twist, but I don't think the atmosphere or the narrator were enough to really carry it off. The book feels overwritten, with way too many unnecessary adjectives bogging down the narrative and making it feel clunky, and Nat just isn't a very convincing teen to me. The way her narration is written, it feels kind of like one of those cozy mysteries that's geared towards old ladies.

I think some people are really going to like this book a lot, but it didn't really work for me. I ended up skimming pretty heavily, especially in the second half. Also, this book has some passages about death, murder, self-harm, and a couple other things, but nothing I saw seemed particularly graphic. The violence is what you would expect to see in a 90s PG-13 horror movie.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

2 out of 5 stars

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