by Laura Powell
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Glory is from a family of witches and lives beyond the law. She is desperate to develop her powers and become a witch herself. Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition—the witches’ mortal enemy—and his privileged life is very different to the forbidden world that he lives alongside.
And then on the same day, it hits them both. Glory and Lucas develop the Fae—the mark of the witch. In one fell stroke, their lives are inextricably bound together, whether they like it or not . .
Burn Mark by Laura Powell is an interesting urban fantasy set in an alternate London. Filled with witches, inquisitions, burnings, the mob, and corruption. We meet two young people from different worlds who develop the Fae on the same day and suddenly find their lives intertwined.
The tale begins when we meet fifteen year old Gloriana Starling Wilde. She is having a nightmare about a woman being burned as a witch. She has had this dream since her mother disappeared when she was just three years old. She lives with her Auntie Angeline Starling and father. They belong to a mafia type witch family. They are unregistered and make their living in petty crime and running the neighborhood. Every night she prays for the mark of the Fae. We then meet fifteen year old Lucas Stearne. His family comes from a long line of Inquisitors and he is expected to fill his father’s shoes. On the very same day these two come into Fae power. The tale that unfolds takes us deep into the world of both witches and Inquisitors. Unexpectedly Gloriana and Lucas find themselves working together undercover. Both enter this arrangement for different reasons and on different sides of a war against/for witchcraft. They soon discover that not everything is black and white.
The characters Powell creates are unique. Gloriana in her dark eye make-up appears hard and streetwise. She has come into her Fae and she is powerful. While she wants to scream this from the tree-tops she is forced to keep it a secret. She is tough and life has taught her not to take crap from anybody. Her boisterous ways had me laughing aloud. She shows no fear and feels a sense of loyalty; even to those who don’t treat her well. In the beginning she had clear opinions about witchkind and humans. Her prejudice runs deep, and it’s her time spent with Lucas that changes her. Lucas is the perfect son, on track to follow in his father’s footsteps; even if he silently disagrees. As he comes into his Fae, we see a change in him. He sets out to prove himself to his father, but quickly forges his own path and begins to be firm in his own beliefs. While I didn’t always approve of him jumping into action without back-up, I liked him. Together their personalities worked of each other and made them each a better person. Other characters add to the story-line and present us with characters to love and loathe.
The world-building reminded me of a modern day version of Salem, Massachusetts (during the Salem Witch trials). Today they declare themselves much more civilized. They have rules by which all Fae are governor. They must declare themselves and be tested. They can choose to give up their Fae, by wearing irons or once they reach adult-hood seek work using their skills. Witchkind are constantly monitored by the Inquisitors and police. By all accounts they are second class citizens. They are sent to trial and burned at the stake for acts of witchcraft and treason. As we enter Powell’s world it is on the cusp of change. The Inquisitors are recruiting and working with Fae. This has caused a crack in the balance and some fear this change will lead to equality. Some might go to great expense to see that it never happens. I enjoyed this novel but I am afraid the pace might turn some readers off. I found the world-building fascinating and the writing flowed well, but there was very little action until the last few chapters. The conflict in this novel was resolved and this works well as a standalone, however Powell has left the door open for a series.
Fans of witches and witch trials should enjoy Burn Mark. While the pace is slow, the detail is rich. I am hoping a second book develops and that Powell’s next plot has more action. I am keeping this author on my watch list.
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