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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Weather Witch by Shannon Delany

Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Series: Weather Witch #1
Young Adult
Pages: 324
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Steampunk

In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!

Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!

But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch.
*Digital galley provided by St. Martin's Griffin for an honest review*

Such a stunning cover and a clever idea for a novel. Weather Witch had a striking premise that couldn't be followed through or rather took too much time with too little to no explanation of the major elements that devise the the integrity of  this novel: the Weather Witches themselves and how they are Made, Magick, and all of these capitalized terms that never are really explained as well like Testers, Wraiths, and so forth.

Truth be told, Weather Witch is a confusing novel when going in head first with no background information or explanation. The prologue itself makes much more sense when going back and reading it a second time once completing the entire novel. It throws out terms like Weather Witch, Grounded, Maker, Fourth of Nine, Conductor. More terms are thrown into this story, but the narrator never really gets around to giving the reader some clear form of a explanation. Just happens to leave you blind, and pulls you along without fulling enjoying the story because you're so confused and still trying to make what things mean.

To really understand what is going on in this novel is to actually piece things together while asking questions in return, like--families are known as Houses and every family is given a ranking out of Nine with one being the most popular, but where did these rankings come from and why are there nine of them? Weather Witches are, as I have tried to understand, people who have come to tap into their magickal ability and taken away by a Maker to be Made and used to conduct the necessities for the people, like being the source for airships or something like that, and can also control the weather, but where does the magick come from and what does it mean to be Made? Made into a Weather Witch when they already have magick powers? Made so they are to serve society? What is of this Wildkin War and what is a Merrow? 

The questions quickly piled up on my read rather than relinquish the answers. It just felt like there was so much info-dumping with out really explaining. So let me actually explain what I mean by that. Weather Witch is this world being formed with all the words and  key terms it has grown into it's society's vocabulary, and the story is able to be told in the voice and vernacular narration of the world. But doesn't adapt to catching up the reader who does not entirely comprehend what the world of Weather Witch knows and fails to really translate the meanings for the reader. I guess you can compare it to reading Huckleberry Finn without having the annotated notes at the bottom of the book.

Jordan Astraea is convicted of being a Weather Witch. And she is persistent to her captors that there has been a mistake. Now Jordan happens to be the main concern of the novel seeing as she is being arrested, her family's rank now in ruins since the blasphemy of harboring a Weather Witch is social suicide, but her narrated portion of Weather Witch is cut so small that she seems insignificant. Not to mention the only character outline contrived of her is that she is only know by two things: her looks and her rank. When she is taken to the Maker, I applause her strength to keep her will from being unbroken, for keeping her heart in the right place and believing she has been wronged. Jordan Astraea just didn't have what it took to really have me value her as a character, probably with such sparse story involvement she was given.

Most of the book revolves around Rowen, Jordan's boyfriend who happens to be one tier below her on the social scale; Bran, a Maker of Weather Witches; Chloe, a  housemaid to the Astraea House with a past of her own; and Marion Kruse, the Weather Witch who had escaped. Unfortunately, there are just so many stories being told in Weather Witch that the novel is just so overwhelming. I don't know which story dominates over the other, what is the true path that the novel is taking--It's a mess.

The historical aspect of the novel is simply striking and captivating. It was one of the very few glories that the novel held. And the quotes from the beginning of chapters were enjoyable to read as well.

Final Summation: Unfortunately, WEATHER WITCH was very underdeveloped and confusing for me to really enjoy. With too many narrators and stories that made the novel feel like it was drifting away from the core plot, and with a lack of explanation, WEATHER WITCH was not the right book for me. Even the ending confused me. I would recommend taking this out of the library.

First Line: A banner snapped out on the pole high above the restrained seventeen-year-old boy, straightening to it's full length.
Story: B
Cover: S