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The Online Student Newspaper of Central Bucks High School South

Titan Tribune

The Online Student Newspaper of Central Bucks High School South

Titan Tribune

The Online Student Newspaper of Central Bucks High School South

Titan Tribune

Book Review of Witches Steeped in Gold


*WARNING: spoilers ahead*


I love fantasy books, but it’s hard for me to find something that sticks with me. Most fantasy books feel the same. It could just be the age level, but it never seems to be unique.

How it usually goes is this: Protagonist is whisked away by the reveal of a secret world is revealed or some other thing that pulls them out of the normal modern world into an old-looking kingdom. Protagonist finds out they’re special for one reason or another, usually not of their own control. They go find whatever thing they need, minor plot twist that changes nothing, save the day, return home, end of story.

So when I picked up Witches Steeped in Gold and read the summary, I was expecting something with thoroughly confusing perspective swaps, an idiot for a villain, and an unnecessarily long and dragged out story. I didn’t expect the 533 pages to be what it actually was.

What I received for my presumptions was a book that practically punched me in the face for thinking that. The book throws you straight into the action almost instantly, kicking off with a prison rebellion with one of the two character perspectives, Iraya, while weaving in the explanation of the world as the characters ready themselves for the first strike. It introduces a major player that seems quite passive in the start as well, Kirdan Dilvysiar.

Almost instantly after, it swaps to the perspective of Jazmyne Cariot, slamming to a stop as the action of the prison changes to the regality of a palace. Ciannon Smart uses chapters to change between characters, and this time it shows what the royal family thinks of the prison break.

Afterwards, the book introduces its side characters, while slowly giving information about others, such as Madisyn. The characters all have secrets and hide them well, even though they may seem naïve. Delyse and the rest of the shields use their experience to determine what they shouldn’t know, and Kirdan remains suspicious of both protagonists, albeit for different reasons.

The main antagonist of the book, Doyenne Cariot, is amazing. She is what made the book stand out to me because she wasn’t just a pushover. Her plans are nearly flawless, and it takes months, patience, and magical artifacts to defeat her. She exemplifies Iraya’s will with the seemingly endless magical restrictions, hurdles, alarms, and raw strength she has. Doyenne also changes Jazmyne’s morals, teaching her a different way of how to rule, and it shows in the conclusion of the book.

The main issue I have is in the last chapter of the book. It hit me with two different twists at once, which was very jarring, but not in a positive way. It gave context that changed a faction that was supposedly evil to be viewed as good, even though the only reason they’re considered good is because they worship Iraya and have two people that are friends with her. It, at least, set up a new antagonist for the next book, Empress Crowned in Red.

Witches Steeped in Gold was an incredible read with a seemingly simple magic system that showed off Smart’s worldbuilding skills, using Jamaican mythology  while allowing the story to unfold in an interesting and captivating way.

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