Alane Adams returns to the magical world of Orkney with Witch Wars, the third book in the Witches of Orkney series. The story follows Abigail Tarkana and her friends Hugo and Robert as she searches for a way to stop the war between the witches and the Orkadians – a war that she unwittingly had a hand in starting.
Abigail and Hugo travel to Jotunheim, where the frost giants live, to seek out Thor and his famous hammer. With the threat of war between the Tarkana witches and Orkadians looming, Abigail is determined to find a way to bring about peace between the two nations. As the daughter of an outcast witch and a man turned into a star, she is poised to be either the salvation or the destruction of the Tarkana witches. But Abigail isn’t sure she wants to be part of their mission for revenge against the god Odin, who exiled them from the rest of the world long ago.
Witches of Orkney incorporates tales and characters from Norse mythology. This really felt the most present in Witch Wars. For the first time, Abigail engages with a god as she tries to trick him, which I really enjoyed, whereas previously in the series, gods appeared mostly for a quick conversation.
While I enjoyed some of the themes Adams worked into this book (some of which began in the second book, The Rubicus Prophecy), I found the characters at times difficult to connect with. One of the main struggles Abigail has throughout the series is whether she should choose to support her coven or her friends. I found the implied tension between these two options to be a bit lacking, mostly because Abigail has little to no positive relationships with any of the witches. We are frequently reminded that the Tarkana witches have hearts of stone and care for no one, which successfully presents Abigail as an outsider of their kind. But since she has very little to be loyal to amongst the witches, I felt frustrated that she struggled with this decision, rather than feeling sympathetic to her.
Something I did appreciate in Witch Wars was Abigail’s feelings of guilt and culpability as a result of her decisions at the end of The Rubicus Prophecy. When presented with the choice to help the scheming he-witch Vertulious or allow her friend Robert to perish, Abigail – understandably – assists Vertulious in regaining corporeal form. Her role in that, and Vertulious’s resulting takeover of the coven, is something that Abigail must reckon with in Witch Wars.
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, Spark Press, for review.