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Debbie Dee – The Underground Witch

Book Cover

So that others may live…

Publisher: (self-published)
Pages: 338
Type: Fiction
Age: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-615-78130-3
First Published: 2nd May 2013
Date Reviewed: 11th June 2013
Rating: 4.5/5

Incenaga witch, Emmeline, may have escaped Mahlon and Weldon and found happiness with the servant who turned out to be a prince, but as she always knew, that happiness would not last forever. As she and Erick prepare for their wedding another person seeks to claim her power…

The Underground Witch is the follow up to Dee’s début, The Last Witch, and whilst there are still issues with the text the book is leaps and bounds ahead of the first.

The book is plot-driven (at least in the main – Emmeline’s development is crucial). A fast pace runs throughout it and the detailing is good. Red herrings are used less this time around, but the somewhat predictable plot twists are not disappointing. Rather they might surprise you initially before you realise that in using them Dee has created more scope for future books.

The storyline, whilst inevitably sporting a ‘fight against evil’ thread as its base, is rather different otherwise to the last. Whereas there was a strong focus on romance before, here the romance is in the background, the love fuels Emmeline’s decisions but is less important than the action. And despite the fact that the chemistry is strong, Dee’s change in focus is one of the most successful aspects of this book, because she doesn’t spend any time letting the characters linger in angst longer than is necessary for the plot, which means that the story keeps moving.

This leads us swiftly on to Emmeline herself. The character was likeable before, but now she is a contender for strongest female character this year. Not once (again, unless absolutely necessary) does Emmeline give up her opinions, her will to fight, her sense of what should happen. She repeatedly stands tall in the face of evil adversity, but never so much as to overturn common sense. (This is of course partly because her power undermines anything her adversaries throw at her.) Emmeline is not simply a breath of fresh air, she is the entire gust of wind. When it’s necessary to give in she does so without losing hope, and never lets anything break her spirit for more than a few moments.

Erick is not as strong but then it aids the plot and the development of the relationship for him to see only what’s on the surface for a while. And Dee doesn’t draw it out for too long, practically piling the sense and other reasoning on him as soon as he comes to his nonsensical conclusions. The other characters are developed enough to make them interesting; given that the plot is the main event, it does not matter too much that they are not as detailed as Emmeline and Erick.

Whereas The Last Witch darted back and forth in time with little time spent where it should have been spent, The Underground Witch takes the literary equivalent of the scenic route, slowing down, detailing everything and generally seeking to create that which is now commonly termed ‘epic’. It’s true that the ending is quick, but given that this is the second book in a trilogy that was to be expected somewhat, especially given the obvious direction the third book will take (as intimated by the last paragraph).

Like before, the book is very violent. Emmeline is struck by her captor repeatedly and there are many murders. This is a series where the heroine is strong but ultimately lives in a world where men have the upper hand.

What unfortunately brings the book down is something that marked the last. There are many editorial errors – spelling, grammar, and there are times when the wrong punctuation is used (such as questions ending with full stops instead of question marks). If you enjoy the story enough they may not bother you too much, as this is a book where the plot is good enough to aid such a dismissal, but they are noticeable all the same. That said, there is good news in regards to the dialogue – the book lacks the proliferation of modern day expressions that mired the last, baring only a small number and all but one or two confined to description.

The Underground Witch may not be perfect but it is an incredible step up. Dee has advanced a great deal in the short time and it is a wonderful thing to witness. The book promises a strong end to the series and is a novel that one can recommend without hesitation.

Help Erick. Discover the princess. A very strong heroine awaits you.

I received this book for review from Sage’s Blog Tours.

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June 12, 2013, 5:57 am

How very nice to see progress in an author’s writing and plotting from the first book to the second! I’ve never read a self-published book before – I admire you for taking a chance on them.


June 12, 2013, 11:26 am

Unfortunately editing is a major problem for self-published books. But I have to say I wouldn’t pick it up because of the cover! And also after hearing about all the violence. Still, it’s always good to hear about strong female characters being written!

Belle Wong

June 12, 2013, 7:14 pm

I have a very difficult time with books that have editing problems. I tend to notice every single grammatical error (I can usually let spelling errors slide by) and this just takes me out of the story every single time. I also dislike copyediting errors immensely – there’s nothing like having A reach into her pocket for her phone when you’re so sure that A gave her phone to B last chapter and never did get it back. That kind of thing has me flipping back to see if I remembered correctly – and whoosh, I’m definitely out of the story then!

Christine @Buckling Bookshelves

June 13, 2013, 2:36 pm

I don’t typically read self-published books, but this one sounds very interesting. I like the cover too — will have to check out the first one when I get a chance!



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