As a reader of fanfiction, stories with gay characters are very familiar to me but I was still excited to find a published book with a gay character. Published books with LGBT characters are rare and it’s only recently that I’ve seen such books floating around. I really enjoy books with non-traditional characters and was looking forward to seeing how an LGBT character was handled. So I’m very pleased to bring you my review for Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey.
Goodreads summary: Braden was born with witch eyes: the ability to see the world as it truly is: a blinding explosion of memories, darkness, and magic. The power enables Braden to see through spells and lies, but at the cost of horrible pain. After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden’s powers to unlock Belle Dam’s secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father–and Trey, the enigmatic guy he’s falling for, is Catherine’s son. To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves.
My biggest fear when reading this book was that the author would merely change the sex of the main character and that would be it. I was probably going to do something violent to the book if the gay character turned out to be a thinly disguised girl (because of course every gay character is completely effeminate). But, I was pleasantly surprised to find Braden a convincing gay character, clearly male and believable as a teenage boy. He was not helpless, weak-willed, or any other stereotype I was afraid to find when cracking open Witch Eyes. Braden is a confused teen who is doing the best he can with no information and a power he can’t control and the gay relationship is almost secondary. The characters are very well balanced.
Nobody is annoying and I don’t want to stab any character in their eye for being too stupid to live. (In case you haven’t noticed by now, not having a character that annoys the piss out of me is the biggest compliment I can give a book. That’s about 80% of a good review in my opinion.) There are a lot of characters running around this book, two of them we never even see. There is a lot of history in Belle Dam and many great characters that I wished had a bit more development. The story isn’t crowded or jerky but you do have to do a bit of work to keep track of everyone. The story branches off into several paths, some of them a dead end. We’re never quite sure what once happened in Belle Dam or even what is happening in the present.
The only complaint I could possibly make is that the beginning is a tad slow and you’re not sure anything is really happening until the action explodes and suddenly there are hellhounds and shapeshifters and Braden is badass with his powers and things start happening. (Wow. Run-on sentence.) But you are stuck the first half of the book waiting for all the pieces to come together and even then the book ends with only half the conflicts resolved. Witch Eyes is written in first person, which means we know what Braden knows and that is it. There is history and facts we are only vaguely aware of by the end of the book and it leaves a few gaps.
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey is the first published book with a LGBT main character I’ve ever read and I’m very impressed with how the gay character was portrayed. There is an intricate, twisting plot in this book that is slowly peeled back and leaves the reader guessing even at the end. The true villain is a huge surprise and kudos to Tracey for the complex labyrinth of secrets and lies. There are more than a few things left unfinished, including the gay relationship, and the second book in the series, Demon Eyes, is slated to be released October of this year. I look forward to it.
Books are like drugs for me. Lovely, world escaping, drugs. Here are some books that I came across that look delicious.
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Expected publication: May 8th 2012 by Harcourt Children’s Books
It isn’t easy being the rather overlooked and unhappy youngest sibling to sisters named for the other six days of the week. Sunday’s only comfort is writing stories, although what she writes has a terrible tendency to come true. When Sunday meets an enchanted frog who asks about her stories, the two become friends. Soon that friendship deepens into something magical. One night Sunday kisses her frog goodbye and leaves, not realizing that her love has transformed him back into Rumbold, the crown prince of Arilland—and a man Sunday’s family despises.
The prince returns to his castle, intent on making Sunday fall in love with him as the man he is, not the frog he was. But Sunday is not so easy to woo. How can she feel such a strange, strong attraction for this prince she barely knows? And what twisted secrets lie hidden in his past—and hers?
Winterling by Sarah Prineas
Expected publication: January 3rd 2012 by HarperChildrens
With her boundless curiosity and wild spirit, Fer has always felt that she doesn’t belong. Not when the forest is calling to her, when the rush of wind through branches feels more real than school or the quiet farms near her house. Then she saves an injured creature—he looks like a boy, but he’s really something else. He knows who Fer truly is, and invites her through the Way, a passage to a strange, dangerous land.
Fer feels an instant attachment to this realm, where magic is real and oaths forge bonds stronger than iron. But a powerful huntress named the Mor rules here, and Fer can sense that the land is perilously out of balance. Fer must unlock the secrets about the parents she never knew and claim her true place before the worlds on both sides of the Way descend into endless winter.
Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Published December 15th 2007 by Harcourt Children’s Books
Flora knows better than to take shortcuts in her family home, Crackpot Hall—the house has eleven thousand rooms, and ever since her mother banished the magickal butler, those rooms move around at random. But Flora is late for school, so she takes the unpredictable elevator anyway. Huge mistake. Lost in her own house, she stumbles upon the long-banished butler—and into a mind-blowing muddle of intrigue and betrayal that changes her world forever.
Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
Published April 5th 2011 by Atheneum
Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she’s inherited her mother’s magical talents, and despite Stepmama’s stern objections, she’s determined to learn how to use them. But with her eldest sister Elissa’s intended fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat’s magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat’s reckless heroism will be tested to the upmost. If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true love?
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Published January 1st 2006 by Greenwillow Books
“I can steal anything.” After Gen’s bragging lands him in the king’s prison, the chances of escape look slim. Then the king’s scholar, the magus, needs the thief’s skill for a seemingly impossible task – to steal a hidden treasure from another land. To the magus, Gen is just a tool. But Gen is a trickster and a survivor with a plan of his own.
I was really surprised to find this book in the juvenile section but the age of the main character and the complete lack of a romance angle for her in this book probably put it there rather than the young adult section. The main character, Annie, is a child. We never learn her age but I’d put her probably at 10, possibly at 11 years of age. There are several years between Annie and her older sister, Page, but we are never told the exact age difference.
The location and scene changes in this story are extreme and happen in the first part of the book frequently. The characters are moved around too quickly and to places the reader is unprepared for and is unaware of. If Annie is not conscious to witness it, then we as readers are not told either. Because of this I was often thrown, wondering what the hell just happened. At one point I had to stop and go back to make sure I hadn’t missed something or that a page hadn’t been torn out by accident. You get the same jarring effect of waking up in a new place that Annie experiences in the story. It’s not always pleasant and is more often confusing. Thus, the beginning of the book feels overly choppy to me. After the first 100 pages or so, the story picks up and is easier to read.
Darkwood is a good book and I really enjoyed it. There were several surprises that were genuinely surprises to me. At one point I began to wonder if the character we had been following for most of the story might not be the important character of the plot. When the final revelation came, it was one I was not expecting. The kinderstalk are interesting characters, especially when we learn that they are not quite the monsters they first appeared to be. Dakrwood has interesting themes of human against animal, child against adult, and royalty against subject. Annie struggles against the opposing forces of the world, first fleeing for her life and then to help the sister she once thought dead and the parents who were not what they seemed.
My only complaint is that the story is left unresolved and there was no warning that this book was part of a series. As of yet, no sequel is available and I expect to go quietly insane because of this. The book ends right as the true villain is revealed and we are left to wait the next installment.
Copyright 2009 M.E. Breen
Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children’s Books