Books · coming out · Contemporary · diverse characters · gender identity · grief · mental health · new adult · own voices author · read the trigger warnings · sci-fi / fantasy · self-discovery

REVIEW: the Witch King by H.E. Edgmon

To save a fae kingdom, a trans witch must face his traumatic past and the royal fiancé he left behind. This debut YA fantasy will leave you spellbound.

Wyatt would give anything to forget where he came from—but a kingdom demands its king.

In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.

Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.

 

Tran MC, diverse supporting characters, queer fantasy, past trauma, some language/ dialogue may be upsetting to some readers.

 

 

I was excited when I became aware of this book. This is the debut novel of H.E. Edgmon and I will be looking forward to more of his writing. While “The Witch King” is well-written and creative but I didn’t really connect with it. I respect the fact that the author wrote in an introduction that the novel was a part of his own self-discovery process so I don’t doubt the authenticity of the voice. I think it’s wonderful for such a relevant “own-voice” novel to be on the horizon.

Wyatt is an interesting character. He has been born a “witch” in the Fae world which means that he is not only discriminated against but he has been committed to an arranged marriage by his parents. Wyatt was to marry Emry – the Prince heir to the throne. Unable to deal with the possibilities of his upcoming life, Wyatt fled to the human world and his new family (complete with lovely best friend, Briar). In the human world Wyatt is able to live as the man he has always been.

I did enjoy the way that the author wrote about Wyatt’s transness. He is accepted by his family of choice lovingly and without judgment. When Emry comes to find him and basically forces Wyatt back into the contract he has fled… that was when I began to lose my connection to some of the characters.

Emyr I was intrigued by. I enjoyed that as the Prince of the Fae, he wanted to become a uniting influence over the world. He definitely loves Wyatt and immediately requests his pronouns and never misgenders or deadnames him. Sadly, I didn’t feel like I really understood the relationship between Emry and Wyatt. I’ve never been much of a fan of stories in which a characters is in a “forced” or “contracted” relationship which progresses to love. I find that type of relationship problematic at best as I think that it glosses over the rights of individuals to choose their own fates.

This novel also has a huge component of bigotry and “racism” in terms of a large portion of the Fae people being discriminatory towards witches and humans (to a much lesser degree). It was portrayed as very simple and lacking a lot of nuance. Then again, that’s only part of what is going on in the story and this is a YA novel.

Wyatt’s voice was a bit difficult for me to connect with. I found that there were some really casual phrases/words that made their way into Wyatt’s thoughts repetitively, and some of it just felt really awkward or a bit off-putting. For instance, Wyatt repeatedly adds confirmation that he’s gay as a way of describing his attraction to another male character.  Another book reviewer suggested that some of this may change in the final edit of the story. As I read an ARC, I’m not sure how much editing is left to be done on this book.

The author’s writing style is great and I would gladly pick up another title. I will always support own-voices authors.

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Violence, violent attacks, blood/gore/murder, character’s parents died, misgendering of character (both by accident and intentionally), deadnaming off-page, severe anxiety, trauma (PTSD?), abuse both physical and emotional, racism/ bigotry in the context of a fantasy world, deceit in a friendship.

 

links

Goodreads I received an ARC of The Witch King  by H.E. Edgmon from Inkyard Press via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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