Butler, “Witchy Eye” (reviewed by Elizabeth Hamilton)


Title: Witchy Eye
Author: D.J. Butler
Publisher: Baen Publishing
Genre: Fantasy/Alternative History
Year Published: 2017
Number of Pages:561
Binding: Cloth
Price: $25.00

Reviewed by Elizabeth Hamilton for the Association for Mormon Letters

When I first looked at the cover of “Witchy Eye” I was expecting it to be a story about a world full of magic with a character that has a magically infused eye they could use to either enchant/curse people or could be used to see into your soul. The second guess wasn’t that far off from what Witchy Eye is about. When I read the flap, I discovered that “Witchy Eye” is an alternate history story about a girl named Sarah Calhoun and her discovery of her true heritage.

Sarah is the daughter of the late Empress Hannah Penn, but as far as Sarah knows, she is the daughter of Andrew Calhoun, a war hero and a member of a group called the Twelve Electors. They live in an alternative version of America in the year 1815. The world that Sarah lives in is full of people who are gifted with magic as well as strange animal-human hybrids known as beastkind.

As I started reading the book, I was a bit confused at first because the perspective from which the story was being told changed from character to character with each section in the chapters, but I got used to it about the time I reached the third chapter.

While reading this book, I found there were characters I liked right away. These include Sarah and Cal (or Calvin Calhoun). Cal at first is thought to be Sarah’s nephew and childhood friend, but then becomes a love interest (once you find out they are not in any way related). Two more interesting characters are Bill Lee, also known as Captain William Lee, and Thalanes a magical monk who hid Sarah when she was born.

There are also characters about whom my opinion changed constantly. One such character is Obadiah. Obadiah works for Father Ezekiel Angleton with the goal to capture Sarah for her uncle Emperor Thomas Penn. At first I didn’t like him because he was a very rude and cruel person. Later on, I was a bit weirded out by him when his personality and views of Sarah did a one-eighty. In the very end, I thought he was actually an okay person.

When it came to Father Ezekiel Angleton, or just Angleton, as he is referred to in most of the book, every time the story is told from his perspective or someone else’s involving him in some way, my opinion of him just gets worse and worse.

One of my favorite things about books is when they create questions in my mind that make me think about the book and its story. The question I had most often during my reading of “Witchy Eye” was, Who is Peter Plowshare? It was an answer I did not find until the second to last chapter. When I got the answer, it honestly was not what I was expecting, but it was a satisfying answer.

Another question I had while reading the book was what happened to Sarah’s triplet sister? Sadly, that question wasn’t answered in this book, but hopefully it will be in the sequel.

Another great thing about “Witchy Eye” was that, while there were questions, there were also connections. A great example would be in chapter three when Thalanes is telling the story of the Empress and how, when her three children were born, they were each deformed in a different way. Our heroine and her companions didn’t make the obvious connection, but his story is about her and her real siblings.

My overall favorite thing about the book, though, was the adventure and magic. Actually, no that’s a lie — I did enjoy the magic and adventure but what I liked the best was Sarah’s character and how repeatable it was to me. From the very beginning, Sarah is strong and independent — not to mention sassy and sarcastic, which I can relate to .

All in all, this was a good book with a plot that kept moving and characters who were developed and well rounded. You have people to root for and get attached to and there are people that you would gladly see dead.

I enjoyed the entire book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys magic and adventure with a little family drama thrown into the mix. Warning: you might cry when you get to chapter twenty — it is truly a heartbreaking chapter.

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