Review: Burn Mark by Laura Powell

Burn Mark
By Laura Powell
416 Pages
Published by Bloomsbury
Publication Date: June 19, 2012 (expected)
Source: Netgalley

From Goodreads:

Glory is from a family of witches and lives beyond the law. She is desperate to develop her powers and become a witch herself. Lucas is the son of the Chief Prosecutor for the Inquisition—the witches’ mortal enemy—and his privileged life is very different to the forbidden world that he lives alongside.

And then on the same day, it hits them both. Glory and Lucas develop the Fae—the mark of the witch. In one fell stroke, their lives are inextricably bound together, whether they like it or not . . .

**Review copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

My first thought when I started reading Burn Mark was that it was so refreshingly different that Glory, one of the two main characters, actually wants to be a witch. More often than not the main character is afflicted by some kind of paranormal issue that they passively accept at best and actively hate at worst. This is doubly true with characters who come from a witch (or other paranormal) family, and it’s triply true if having supernatural powers is a dangerous proposition. Either way, there’s usually a lot of angst and sulking and wishing for normality. Glory, on the other hand, has no powers yet and prays that she will be “lucky” enough to receive them. You go, girl.

The worldbuilding is really interesting here. I had a bit of a hard time following it at first, because there are all kinds of societal rules for witchery. Certain types are accepted and even somewhat encouraged, as witches are given jobs working for the government. The Inquisition still exists, although it’s a kinder, gentler version than the one that existed hundreds of years ago. Witches are required to be registered with the government, and underage witches are “bridled” – or given iron cuffs to keep them from using their powers – until they are old enough to be trained for their career. Unregistered witches live in covens, which in the case of Burn Mark are the equivalent of mafia families. They do typical mainly small-time criminal stuff like con jobs, robberies, fencing, etc.

The other main character, Lucas, starts off significantly less likeable than Glory. He’s actually kind of a prat for at least the first half of the book, even after he develops his fae abilities. He does grow as a person as the book goes on, fortunately, and he becomes a lot more tolerable and even likeable. His story was also more interesting to me than Glory’s, partially because he developed the fae as the son of a Inquisition bigwig and partially because there was a lot of mafia-type stuff involved in her story and I have zero interest in any of that (seriously, I’m like the only person on earth who has never seen The Godfather and has no plans to do so).

I also liked that Glory wasn’t super gorgeous – in fact, at one point she is described as having a “strong beaky profile.” Lucas mentions that she wears too much make-up and refers to her as a chav. Apparently she’s a bit of a tacky broad as opposed to a breathtaking girl with glorious hair in a fancy dress. There isn’t a huge description of Lucas but not much is made of his appearance and he seems rather average or maybe slightly above. Certainly not one of the impossibly hot guys we are so used to seeing in YA. I found this a refreshing change, though those who like romance in their YA will want to give this one a pass.

Overall I mostly liked Burn Notice. As I said, I struggled with the mafia stuff and I had a bit of a hard time keeping some of the minor characters straight, so it wasn’t without its issues. I’d say that if you’re looking for a different spin on witches and you don’t mind a lack of romance give this one a try.

3/5 Stars

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  1. I always love witch stories and this one sounds very neat – the whole world building fascinates me. I also often find myself confused when there are too many side characters who don’t have prominent personalities. But I’d like to check this one out. Great review! 🙂

    • Yeah, I loved that it was so different than other witch stories I’ve read, I just didn’t really love the direction the author went in.

  2. Okay. I’m lol’ing her b/c I read the last paragraph of your review and was like “why would they name the book Burn Notice? That’s a tv show!”

    It’s funny b/c yesterday I posted the name of a series with the wrong title.

    Anyway, I’m with you on passive witchism (?) and mob movies. I tried one episode of The Sopranos and hated it.

    I’m glad you managed to enjoy the book. Nice review!

    • OMG, I’m such a tool. I can’t believe I got the name of the book wrong, ha ha. And I put that in my Netgalley review too, so the publisher is going to see it. Whoops.

      I just can’t do the mob. At all. No interest whatsoever.

  3. I have this too, but I haven’t finished it yet. I started it, but it didn’t hold my interest. I was a bit disappointed, because I like witch stories. 😦 May get back to it eventually. We’ll see. Nice review!

    • I almost fizzled out early on but I pushed through because I didn’t want to DNF a netgalley. 😮

      It did get better as it went on, I thought. I was glad I stuck with it even though I didn’t end up loving it.


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