“The Last Witch” follows Lilly Hooper as she steps into a new world—out of her uncle’s basement and into a mansion with other witches. Told she is a monster all her life, beaten and abused in quite literally every way imaginable, Lilly is discovering that the magic in her veins is limitless, and she hasn’t even learned all the powers there are yet. But with great power come lots of men who want to use that power—and her—in order to further their own goals: one wants to return magic to the world while the other wants to eradicate it completely and destroy those who would have magic if it did return in force—and neither is the good guy. Caught between these opposing sides, Lilly also finds love and friendship, and even has her very first Christmas that she can remember. Which all sounds great, honestly! So, what was my problem with this book when the premise sounds so promising? The stereotypical shallowness of the characters, and the overly gratuitous nature of the violence, to be frank.
Lilly is painted to be the most tragic character ever, like honestly anything bad that can happen to this girl does. Her mom dies when she’s young, she’s abandoned by her father and then left in the clutches of a sadistic uncle who hates her and beats and starves her for the majority of her life. She is tortured emotionally and physically, and sexually abused multiple times by different men, which include rape. I also feel it’s important to mention, because it can be so triggering for people, that there’s a character that has a very violent (aided) miscarriage. I won’t go into details because of spoilers, but honestly, the themes of sexual violence come up all the time in this book across multiple character and it’s barely alluded to in the synopsis, so I feel it’s only fair to warn people. This book is beyond just a dark fantasy, it’s really not for the faint of heart at all, which I would have been fine with. I don’t mind violence or really dark fantasies (which sounds weird to say but go with me on this one) but there HAS to be a point to it beyond the very basic “tragic heroine back story” trope or the “sexist male dominance” trope. Which is why the sheer amount of abuse Lilly undergoes felt repetitive and gratuitous after a little while.
Which unfortunately does lead into the characters… Every man in this book, save two, are awful people. And the two decent ones, one of them I just couldn’t buy as a love interest. The characters do a lot of pining for each other but there never seemed to be a depth to their feelings beyond physical. Even when they learn about each other’s terrible pasts, because they weren’t fully developed (which was odd given the length of this book), I always felt like I was kept at arm’s length from being swept up in their romance. Plus, Lilly tended to give me whiplash for 70% of the story; going from a type of terrified damsel to a force to be reckoned with that won’t take anything from anyone. It would have been fine if it had been a gradual change, going from the victim to the survivor, but Lilly goes back and forth too much to make it feel like true character growth. Not to mention that most of the characters tend to yell in all caps in dialogue. This may be a personal preference, but after a while, I couldn’t take the characters anger seriously, and I found the sheer number of caps to be distracting.
The premise of this book is genuinely interesting. A world where powerful witches have cut off the flow of magic to the world through a veil in order to protect their people from relentless Hunters, and the only one who can lower the veil is an Arcane witch, someone who can access all types of magic. There was so much potential and drama that could come with that plotline! But the book dragged, focusing too much on a chaotic love story and not enough on the bigger struggle. Lilly never really tried to learn her magic, she was just able to do more as she was abused more and more… That seemed to be the only point to the unyielding violence Lilly suffers, and at first, that made sense, but after a while the repetitiveness of it becomes desensitizing to where I was just getting bored. But, based on the sheer number of glowing reviews this book and series has, I am clearly in the minority with my feelings, so you may enjoy this more than I did! But because this story ended up dragging, the shallowness of the characters wrapped up in non-stop violence, and abuse of all kinds, but with sprinklings of an interesting underlining plotline, I’m giving this book 2 stars. Thank you to the author for providing me with a copy for an honest review!
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