Book Review: Dust on the Altar by Michelle Winkler
In this magical debut novel by Michelle Winkler, a witch named Jade must leave her comfortable life in the technologically advanced Sun City to take her place as coven leader in the small witch town of Sugar Hill. Fortunately, she has her best friend April to provide moral support. She's able to reconnect with her childhood best friend Charlie and a very wise Grandma Willow. Together, they must face the mysterious dark forces threatening the coven, but reconnecting with her magic after so much time away isn't easy for Jade.
One of the things I loved most about this book was the atmosphere. The settings are all meticulously crafted with details woven throughout the story that really paint a clear picture of where you are and what it feels like to be there. There's a bit of a spooky element here with the witches and the magic and the mystery, and I absolutely loved diving into those elements and learning more about how everything fit together. I also really loved getting to know the characters. Grandma Willow was my absolute favorite, and I expect that will be true for many readers. I also really liked Charlie and enjoyed seeing his relationship with Jade develop. Jade herself is well-written and complex, with an impactful character arc that still leaves room for further development in future installments of this series. (Also, while we're on the subject of this being a series, I have to say how much I love the series title of A Lighter Shade of Darkness.)
The magic system is really interesting and all the pieces fit together in a way that was believable. I was really really interested in the dynamics between the Citizens in the more technology/science-oriented Sun City and the witch covens in these outsider towns. Fictional societies are always super interesting to me and I wanted to know more about how those dynamics came about. We didn't get to see much of that in this book, but I'm hoping to get more later in the series. Parts of the story were a little predictable, but that didn't ruin my enjoyment at all and it was actually kind of fun to see how things played out in the end compared to my predictions.
If you're looking for a spooky but still fun and magical read this Halloween season, I'd definitely recommend picking up this book. You can preorder it now for just 99¢ and enter the preorder giveaway Michelle is running. Dust on the Altar releases October 30, 2020.
Find out more about Dust on the Altar and read the first three chapters
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