The adventuring duo of Alis the wizard and Cahan the warrior is tasked by their school to help the residents of the remote town of Ashfern, located in the perpetually cold and snowy Winterwood, with a little ghost problem. It seems like a spirit is haunting the mayor’s children, particularly his youngest daughter, and he’s hoping that Alis and Cahan can do something about it. While the threat of the Formless, first encountered in Down the Dragon Hole, remains a problem constantly on their minds, the duo knows that they cannot ignore their duties.
Magic is more Alis’ strongsuit, and she soon finds herself struggling with a malevolent spirit that has far more magic power than her . . . but also a past that is just as tragic.
And the mighty Cahan gets his butt kicked several times.There is more than enough magic in The Cinder Witch to get your fix, and we learn more about Alis, how she’s adjusting to her new life of adventure, and what the gift of magic really means to her. I really don’t want to spoil this, but let’s say that by the end of The Cinder Witch, the questions you’ll have will also be asked by the school’s higher-ups come book four, The Witch’s Gift.
And like A Midsummer’s Party, there is more to the story than just “wizard fights ghost.” It’s great to see Alis develop from a peevish bookworm with a serious lack of confidence into a powerful risk-taker willing to do what is right.
I did find the switching between perspectives–the “third-person omniscient” style–a little disorienting, as the viewpoint-shifts weren’t always clearly demarcated, but that’s a minor quibble. The Cinder Witch provides a complete tail that sets up what I can only hope are more epic adventures for Alis and Cahan.
If you like swords and sorcery that is a loving callback to the past without taking itself too seriously, I highly suggest you give The School of Spells & War books a try. They’re quick enough to read on your commute, but fun enough to keep you wanting more.