‘…Does anyone doubt that was Air magic? The Albatross’s prophecy proves this: ‘As you command words, so you shall command the wind. Storm-bringer. Storm-rider. Storm-queller.’
‘Her choosing has confirmed our suspicions. The Albatross signaled its intent to grant power to the child before she was born: Storm is an Air-witch.’
(From Storm Witch by Ellen Renner. P57.)
At thirteen, children on Yanlin are Chosen by one of the elementals – Earth, Air, Fire or Water. Their choosing determines their apprenticeship and their future life-path. Storm, still recovering from the loss of her father, wants only to avoid the Water Elemental.
Instead, she is chosen by three Elementals – Earth, Air and Water. The fourth tries to kill her. There will be no easy destiny – Storm is a witch with great powers. She must help her island in the fight against The Drowned Ones, the band of pirates who roam the seas, destined never to live on land.
Then a boy washes up on the island and Storm makes a decision – a choice which will change her life forever.
Storm Witch starts a new fantasy quartet which will be beloved by fans of Abi Elphinstone. Think the one chosen for a different destiny. Think vengeful pirates. Think Gods with a plan. Guys, this one is something special and it is going to be huge.
Storm has experienced tragedy before, and she wants nothing more than to keep her loved ones safe. Unfortunately, the Gods don’t seem to have planned it that way, and she finds her home and family in constant danger. I love how Storm had to face up to and own her abilities. She’s not a cardboard cut-out chosen-one but is forced to embrace her powers by circumstance.
Storm is teased for her boy’s name, and when she becomes a witch she gives up her gender entirely. Meanwhile, her cousin is considered soft because he allies with Earth and wants to remain on the island rather than go out on the boat with the men. It was lovely to see commentary about gender worked into a fantasy story. The culture of Yanlin divides male and female in a way which could be a metaphor for real-life preconceptions about gender. I will be interested to see whether this theme develops across the series.
There was another character who provided an interesting dynamic – Mixi is introduced as a bully, but her own perspective is slowly fed to us until we empathise with both Mixi and Storm. I love it when authors write strong characters who we don’t necessarily like. The difference between liking and empathy is one of the most important lessons we can learn as human beings.
As well as being a gripping adventure, Storm Witch introduces a new setting. Storm’s world of pirates and Elementals and apprenticeships to the island’s Elders was so well described that I finished the book feeling as if I had visited Yanlin. From the magical caves of the Elementals to the staff-carrying elders, there was just enough description to make this place real.
A strong start to the series which establishes the world and character and sets out Storm’s dilemma. This will doubtless be a hit and I look forward to finding out how the story continues.
Storm Witch by Ellen Renner is published on 6th September by Nosy Crow in paperback priced £6.99
Thanks to Nosy Crow LTD and EDPR for inviting me on to the tour and for my ARC of Storm Witch. Opinions my own.