Hollywood Witch Hunter
Release Date: July 20, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Synopsis on Goodreads:
From the moment she first learned the truth about witches…she knew she was born to fight them.
Now, at sixteen, Iris is the lone girl on the Witch Hunters Special Ops Team.
But when Iris meets a boy named Arlo, he might just be the key to preventing an evil uprising in Southern California.
Together they’re ready to protect the human race at all costs. Because that’s what witch hunters do.
Welcome to Hollywood.
Hollywood Witch Hunter by Valerie Tejeda definitely took me for a few surprises. I originally wasn’t interested in this book when I heard ‘Hollywood’ in the title, thinking it’d show that pretentious side of Hollywood. I could not be more wrong! The world-building is fascinating, the protagonist incredible, and the satire comedy plus action combination a huge hit. I can describe Tejeda’s debut best as Buffy versus the Wicked Witch of the West, if a fight like that went down.
I love this quote and just had to share it below:
“While some things change, one truth will endure: never trust a witch … especially in Hollywood.” (Tejeda)
This is likely my favourite part because Hollywood ended up being a perfect setting, so that shows here. Now, if this quote doesn’t make you immediately pick up HWH, keep reading my review.
Tejeda has created an intriguing and diverse cast of characters. Iris Maria Bently comes from a long line of witch hunters and happens to be the first girl born with the witch hunting gene. When others tell Iris what she can and cannot do, she’s determined to prove them wrong. I love this aspect of her character, someone strong-willed and driven to prove her family and the Witch Hunting Organization (W.H.O.) wrong. Tejeda also illustrates big issues like sexism and discrimination through her character and I could really feel the raw emotion there. I myself became emotional at how unfair things were for Iris.
Another character I love is Arlo, who recently found out he’s a Hunter and currently under Iris’ wing, learning about the business. I love that he’s a super sweet and shy person, and holds a deep respect for Iris as a peer and fellow Hunter. The two have this slow burning romance with each other, something I find really enjoyable. Then there’s Belinda, leader of the Hollywood witch coven and an overall hilarious character. Here’s where that satire comedy comes in: Hollywood cliches and general stereotypes are made blatantly obvious. Several decades ago, Belinda cast a curse on all female witches, forcing them to sacrifice young, beautiful women in order to maintain their youth. The more ‘Hollywood’ someone is, the better the sacrifice they make. HWH is very funny in that aspect, but also gets serious when needed.
My favourite part is the world-building, and just how detailed and intricate it is. There are different types of witches, like Protas who can cast telepathic and telekinetic spells, and Matas who summon animals and insects. The Witch Hunting Organization (W.H.O.) is advanced, with Hunter Aviators that allow Hunters to cast Idas spells (forget me spell) and detect witches with thermal imaging. There’s also recovery shots, a concentrated Curas spell in liquid form, helping Hunters recover from big injuries. My ultimate favourite is Bruma, a witch fog seen only by Hunters, letting them know about recent witch activity.
I found the first chapter really interesting, but I’m not sure what to make of it. It was mainly narrated, giving that back story of Iris discovering she’s a Hunter and proving to her father she should be on the team. I found myself enjoying it, but because of its format I felt like I shouldn’t. It did stand out among other books with how it introduced the protagonist and plot, and the back story was important to know.
Hollywood Witch Hunter is a fantastic debut and I love the blurring of heroes and villains. Not everything is black and white, and that’s a significant lesson for Iris. I’m really good with figuring out foreshadowing so there are some revelations I saw coming. Overall, I strongly recommend this novel. It’s an original take on the witch genre with characters I won’t be forgetting anytime soon!
I was gifted an ebook by the author. This has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book.