Butler, “Witchy Eye” (reviewed by Karen D. Austin)

Review
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Title: Witchy Eye
Author: DJ Butler
Publisher: Baen
Genre: Alternative history fantasy
Year Published: 2017

Reviewed by Karen D. Austin

Set in an alternative version of 1815, Witchy Eye details the adventures of 15-year-old Sarah Calhoun and her constantly shifting band of supporters. Raised among the well-known Calhoun clan in the Apalachee region of a magic-filled frontier, Sarah is rustic, tough and independent. Sarah learns that her growing magical abilities and her hidden bloodlines have made her powerful enemies.

As Sarah travels the ley lines from her mountain home to the strange and dangerous streets of New Orleans, she must judge who she can trust to help her on her quest and who intends her harm. This isn’t an easy task when people have complex identities, conflicting loyalties, and undisclosed abilities. Her initial band includes her nephew Cal (an able hunter and trapper) and her new mentor Thalanes (a priest from the North). These three must outwit a conspiratorial preacher named Ezekiel Angleton–intent on kidnapping Sarah with the help of his crude hawker, Obadiah Dogsbody.

Butler builds a world that is thickly populated with people of various nationalities (British, French, German, Native American, African, Dutch, Spanish, Creole), various occupations (bar maids, servants, soldiers, priests, prison wardens, chevaliers), and even various degrees of being human (some superhuman, some subhuman). These characters inhabit a world that is filled with vivid detail of geography, language, religion, and history–all exposing a political intrigue that fuels the novel’s central conflict.

Butler propels the story with a lot of action, but he is clearly a man of letters. Consequently, the story is simultaneously fun, informative, and thought provoking

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