Title: Seventh Born (The Witchling Academy Book 1)
Author: Monica Sanz
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, paranormal romance
Grade: C(3 /5)
Description (from cover):Abomination. Curse. Murderer. All names hurled at eighteen-year-old Seraphina Dovetail. As the seventh-born daughter to a witch, she’s the cause of her mother losing her powers and, in turn, her life.
Abandoned as a child, Sera dreams of becoming an inspector and finding her family. To do that, she must be referred into the Advanced Studies Program at the Aetherium’s Witchling Academy. Her birth order, quick temper, and tendency to set things on fire, however, have left her an outcast with failing marks…and just what Professor Nikolai Barrington is looking for.
The tall, brooding, yet exceedingly handsome young professor makes her a proposition: become his assistant and he’ll give her the referral she needs. Sera is quickly thrust into a world where witches are being kidnapped, bodies are raised from the dead, and someone is burning seventhborns alive. As Sera and Barrington grow ever closer, she’ll discover that some secrets are best left buried…and fire isn’t the only thing that makes a witch burn.
- Underdeveloped world, magic system, and characters
- Mary Sue main character
- Fun read with interesting combination of magic, murder, and romance
*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
At the very beginning of their lives, seventhborn witches are surrounded by death. Their birth leads to the death of their mothers and inheritance of her power. And though persecutions are no longer commonplace for seventhborn witches, they are still seen as less, as something terrible.
Seraphina Dovetail seeks to become more than her status: she dreams of becoming an inspector. But she’s impulsive, quick-tempered, and has a habit of setting things on fire. But it’s exactly this that lands her a proposition from the handsome and young Professor Barrington: a referral in exchange for her being his assistant into the investigation into a recent string of murders.
The very basis of this book is problematic, and the reason it was problematic was because it was difficult to suspend disbelief. This is one of the most important things you must accomplish when writing a book, especially if you’re writing fantasy or science fiction. With Seventh Born,I had a very difficult time believing the premise of the story. The prejudice against seventhborns felt so silly and so trivial, and yet this was a major part of the world Sera lived in. It didn’t make much sense, and part of that was because nothing was really fully developed: the magic system, the world, the characters. It all skimmed the surface at best.
There was only one character that felt somewhat developed: Barrington. Or maybe he was just the only character I liked. Sera, the protagonist, was a bit of a Mary Sue. She has the tragic past, she’s smart, and she’s exceedingly beautiful. Furthermore, the fact that she’s a victim is used to make the reader and other characters more sympathetic to her rather than to actually explore abuse and trauma. I hate when being a victim is used to make a character more likable to other characters, especially when it becomes the foundation of relationships. It cheapens it.
The other characters were rather bland as well. There’s the boy who is just so in love with Sera, but in reality, they don’t actually know each other. And you know, he’s just a super good dude. There’s also the silly-boy obsessed best friend, the bully who’s just a bully because he sucks, and the doting/lovable maid. Oh, and the super-obsessed villain. Yep, that sums it up pretty damn well.
Fair warning: this is a slight spoiler (but it’s also something heavily implied in the book description, so I’d hardly call it one). Anyway, there’s also the romance, which definitely felt inspired by Mr.Rochester/Jane Eyre. That said, I had two problems with it. One, it felt a little rushed and unrealistic. And two, I wasn’t sold on this relationship being in a YOUNG ADULT novel. Professor (person of authority)/student (eighteen-year-old girl)…it made me a little uncomfortable.
Despite this, Seventhborn was still a fun read, but this is because a contained a combination I’ve been wanting to read for awhile. I liked that it had witchery, detective work, and romance. That was fun., and quite honestly, it’s also better than some of the other books I have read recently. That said, I just wish it had been better executed.