Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Bitterwine Oath by Hannah West

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Paranormal Mystery
Length: 320 pages
Author: Hannah West
Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: December 1st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Every fifty years, a cult claims twelve men to murder in a small Texas town. Can one girl end the cycle of violence – and save the boy who broke her heart?

San Solano, Texas, is a quaint town known for its charm, hospitality, and history of murder. Twice now, twelve men have been brutally killed, and no one knows who did it. A shadowy witch? A copycat killer? Or a man-hating murderess?

Eighteen-year-old Natalie Colter is sure that the rumors about her great-great-grandmother’s cult of wronged women are just gossip, but that doesn’t stop the true-crime writers and dark tourism bloggers from capitalizing on the town’s reputation. It’s an urban legend that’s hard to ignore, and it gets harder when Nat learns that the sisterhood is real. And magical. And they want her to join.

The more Nat learns of the Wardens’ supernatural history, the more she wonders about the real culprits behind the town’s ritualistic murders. Are the Wardens protecting San Solano from even darker forces? There are shadows in the woods, bones on the outskirts of town, and questions Nat needs answered.

But everything becomes more urgent when people start getting “marked” as new victims–including Levi Langford, the boy whose kiss haunted Nat for a year. With Levi in danger, doing nothing would be harder than fighting back.

Nat knows that no one is safe. Can she and the sisterhood stop the true evil from claiming their town?

Thank you to the publisher, Holiday House for an ARC. All opinions are my own!

PRETTY SPOOKY.

I had an overall good time with this. I even found myself completely spooked out after the first couple of chapters. Hidden cult in the woods murdering men? Yeah, that’ll do it.

The story was intriguing and I liked reading the author’s notes at the end about creating it. While there was only one full point-of-view, there were many story lines to wrap together. Everything did weave together well and I didn’t feel by the the end of the mystery that I was missing anything. I love when a mystery based book ties all of the endings off before closing!

The main character, Natalie, completely blind-sided by her own past kept up with everything. I like how brave she was and really went for it in regards to breaking the curse. She had a little romance with a side character. This fit in better than I thought, but could have used a little more *something* to it. I appreciate the passion of both Natalie and Levi in wanting to be with each other, and figuring out what the heck was out there in the woods.

This atmosphere was haunting and without a doubt creepy. Those creatures made me shiver and I love a good old, back country town, with a sordid past. I thought some of the plot was repetitive and multiple issues kept being re-hashed over and over again. It caused me to skim some of it by the end so I could know how everything resolved.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult mystery
  • Language: a little, light
  • Romance: kisses / light make-outs
  • Violence: creature attacks, guns, physical altercations, people being possessed by something supernatural

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