Ebook, 250 pages
Published July 20th 2015 by Bloomsbury Spark
Format read: Ebook, purchased
Valerie Tejeda has created the foundations of an intriguing world, with a heroine and ending that will have readers begging for more.
Now, at sixteen, Iris is the lone girl on the Witch Hunters Special Ops Team.
But when Iris meets a boy named Arlo, he might just be the key to preventing an evil uprising in Southern California.
Together they're ready to protect the human race at all costs. Because that's what witch hunters do.
Welcome to Hollywood.
(Benefits of living on the west coast!)
Debut author Valerie Tejeda introduces us to Iris, the only girl in a family of male-hunting witch hunters with the witch-hunting gene. While she's struggled successfully to prove herself since discovering her powers, a new arrival and changes in the Hollywood witch dynamic, challenges Iris to the core, as she works to stop an evil uprising.
While the Extraordinarly Empowered Girl trope is one that is common in a post-Buffy era, Tejeda's Iris is a welcome new addition to this exclusive club of powered, kick-ass females. Tejeda builds a credible backstory for Iris and her powers, while integrating the sole female witch hunter into a smart, contemporary setting.
Much like Buffy, Tejeda's decision of setting Iris's story in a place like Southern California works on so many levels. Broadly speaking, emphasis on the glitz, glamor and superficiality of Hollywood, helps to explain the heightened emotions involved with a complex witch-related curse, while the associated quirks of Southern California - e.g. earthquakes; dramatic deaths - also helps explain away the work of Iris and her group.
And while Tejeda does a nice job of showing how Iris and her team are able to fit seamlessly into their location as they work to hunt a mysterious new evil, the setting is also used to emphasize the struggles that Iris has balancing regular teenagehood, with her super powered work. There's both a nice subplot involving a cute new boy, and also a sweet moment, where Iris gets to help another young man, be normal - and take advantage of the normalcy herself.
The one issue that readers may have with Hollywood Witch Hunter, is the fact that Tejeda doesn't devote as much time to developing the personalities of Iris and supporting characters. Instead, the bulk of the development in the novel tends to focus on the mythos of the witch hunters and the creatures that they pursue.
While Tejeda's choises provides a very much-appreciated and thorough look at the interdynamics and politics of Iris's world, I do hope that she will take the time to explore more of what drives Iris, the witch hunters and the witches in future installments. I feel like there's a lot of emotional dynamics at play, and I can't wait to see it explored.
Iris is also a likable heroine, and readers will undoubtedly appreciate both her courage in standing up to an organization that has soley consisted of men, while also finding time to be a teenager, with regular teenaged concerns.
Recommended for readers who enjoy urban street fantasy, and also for readers who enjoy shows like Buffy, and Supernatural.
About the author:
Entertainment journalist Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and more, for a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: The Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix, Salon.com, Cosmopolitan, and spends her nights writing YA novels.
Her debut young adult novel HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER will be published worldwide from Bloomsbury Publishing under their Spark imprint in 2015.