"Witch Heart," Anya Bast

Pros: Interesting and unusual world and characters
Cons: Too much romantic will-they won’t-they; too much alpha male crap; one-sided demonic depiction of mental health care
Rating: 3 out of 5

Review copy courtesy of Penguin Group.


Claire, a strangely powerful elemental witch, has been slave to a demon ruler since she was a child. When another type of demon attacked her lord’s stronghold, Rue pushed a devastating ball of power into her and sent her through a portal to Earth with two warrior demons on her trail. She’s cold, alone, and trapped in a world she doesn’t understand and hasn’t seen since she was a small child. She doesn’t understand that humans don’t believe in witches and demons, and ends up trapped in a mental institution. She’s able to send out a magical call for help, however, and a coven of elemental witches comes to rescue her.

As the demons hunt Claire for the power locked inside of her, she races against time to learn how to use it against them. Helping her is Adam Tyrell, a fire witch who, ever since his beloved wife’s death, has avoided any but the most superficial relationships. Until Claire, who hits him like a ton of bricks.


First, what I liked: the world-building is fun. The system of magic is rather interesting, the otherworldly demons have a unique and fascinating culture, and Claire is an intriguing character. Rue has twisted and built upon Claire’s powers in unexpected ways, and now it’s her responsibility to teach the Coven witches how to fight demons. She has a great power inside of her, but it’s just as likely to kill her as let her use it; it was never meant to be placed inside anything other than a pure demon. I also found it interesting to learn about and eventually see the relationship between Claire and her demon master, Rue.

However, there were a few things I didn’t like. The depiction of mental health care is a one-sided demonic caricature more befitting novels of a couple of decades ago. There’s too much of the usual “I want to sleep with him/her” “oh no I shouldn’t” back-and-forth without quite enough to make it stick.

And, oh god, am I getting tired of the overdone alpha male thing. I don’t mind it to a certain extent and in certain circumstances. For instance, there are novels that justify it based on the race or cultural background of their characters, which at least makes sense. In Adam’s case, however, it hit the level of cartoon-like caricature. It needed to be toned down to a more human level.

Witch Heart is an enjoyable novel, and if you liked the previous two in the series (which I have not read), I imagine you’ll want to read this one as well. It isn’t, however, one of my favorites.

[Standard warning: adult material; explicit sex.]

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