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The Witch Haven

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An instant New York Times bestseller! The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards. In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning An instant New York Times bestseller! The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards. In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet—her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there. Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother. Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?


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An instant New York Times bestseller! The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards. In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning An instant New York Times bestseller! The Last Magician meets The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy in this thrilling and atmospheric historical fantasy following a young woman who discovers she has magical powers and is thrust into a battle between witches and wizards. In 1911 New York City, seventeen-year-old Frances Hallowell spends her days as a seamstress, mourning the mysterious death of her brother months prior. Everything changes when she’s attacked and a man ends up dead at her feet—her scissors in his neck, and she can’t explain how they got there. Before she can be condemned as a murderess, two cape-wearing nurses arrive to inform her she is deathly ill and ordered to report to Haxahaven Sanitarium. But Frances finds Haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium at all: it’s a school for witches. Within Haxahaven’s glittering walls, Frances finds the sisterhood she craves, but the headmistress warns Frances that magic is dangerous. Frances has no interest in the small, safe magic of her school, and is instead enchanted by Finn, a boy with magic himself who appears in her dreams and tells her he can teach her all she’s been craving to learn, lessons that may bring her closer to discovering what truly happened to her brother. Frances’s newfound power attracts the attention of the leader of an ancient order who yearns for magical control of Manhattan. And who will stop at nothing to have Frances by his side. Frances must ultimately choose what matters more, justice for her murdered brother and her growing feelings for Finn, or the safety of her city and fellow witches. What price would she pay for power, and what if the truth is more terrible than she ever imagined?

30 review for The Witch Haven

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sasha Smith

    I believe Goodreads is fundamentally a space for readers and reviewers, so I promise to post this and then dip, (though if you enjoy the book, please feel free to tag me on insta @sashapeytonsmith) but I wanted to appear here briefly to thank you all for your excitement and kindness about The Witch Haven. Being a debut author is at once the culmination of all my childhood dreams and the most terrifying thing I've ever done. The way so many of you have warmly welcomed me has meant the world. I be I believe Goodreads is fundamentally a space for readers and reviewers, so I promise to post this and then dip, (though if you enjoy the book, please feel free to tag me on insta @sashapeytonsmith) but I wanted to appear here briefly to thank you all for your excitement and kindness about The Witch Haven. Being a debut author is at once the culmination of all my childhood dreams and the most terrifying thing I've ever done. The way so many of you have warmly welcomed me has meant the world. I began this book alone in my childhood bedroom, thinking of my grandmother. She was born before women had the right to vote, and spent much of her early 20s locked in a tuberculosis sanitarium in New York. As far as I know, her sanitarium was not a secret magic school like the one in my book, though they did tell her at 20 years old she only had 6 months to live. She died at 92, so she might have been at least a little bit magic. As a child, I thought a lot about how strange it must have been to be so isolated, but close enough to the city to see the lights sparking over the water. As an adult, I imagined a group of girls and young women, making a home out of a strange place, put there by something entirely out of their control. My grandmother’s sanitarium loomed large in my imagination for years, warped by time, until it became something else entirely. The Witch Haven follows Frances Hallowell, a 17-year-old seamstress in 1911 New York who is taken to a school for witches disguised as a tuberculosis sanitarium after accidentally killing her predatory boss. The more she learns about the magical underworld of New York City, the more she begins to fear the strange, new world she inhabits may be related to her brother’s death four months earlier, the murder she’d do anything to solve. Set in gritty, turn-of-the-century New York, The Witch Haven also features girls in capes, beautiful boys who can walk through dreams, and sparkly magic schools that aren’t what they seem. This is, of course, a book about magic and the question of who gets to have real power, but it is also a book about the isolation of grief and the anger of teenage girls. I wrote it for my 17-year-old self, I wrote it for my grandmother at 20, and now it belongs to you too. I really hope you enjoy The Witch Haven. Thank you again for everything <3 p.s. you can find content warnings for The Witch Haven on my website: https://www.sashapsmith.com/the-witch...

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    Witch stories are my fairytales, and I don’t think I’m ever going to get tired of them. There’s a lot of fascinating things going on in The Witch Haven. It takes place in 1911 New York City, which is either very cool or very not cool depending on what demographics you belonged to at the time. Frances Hallowell is a seventeen year-old young woman working as a seamstress, when a shocking act of unexplainable violence catches the attention of law enforcement. But instead of being arrested Frances is Witch stories are my fairytales, and I don’t think I’m ever going to get tired of them. There’s a lot of fascinating things going on in The Witch Haven. It takes place in 1911 New York City, which is either very cool or very not cool depending on what demographics you belonged to at the time. Frances Hallowell is a seventeen year-old young woman working as a seamstress, when a shocking act of unexplainable violence catches the attention of law enforcement. But instead of being arrested Frances is whisked away to a sanatorium in Queens that is more than it appears. As it turns out, the sanitarium is a cover for a different kind of institution—a witch school for girls known as Haxahaven. Frances and her new peers are housed, schooled in their craft and most crucially, shielded from an outside world that wishes to do them harm. The more time Frances spends confined to her new home, though, the more she feels unfulfilled. A yearning to expand her powers and explore beyond Haxahaven’s walls and locked gates leaves Frances with no choice but to start making her own rules. After all, what’s the point in possessing power if you’re not going to exercise it? Historical fantasy is an interesting genre to me because there’s so many different directions you can take the story. The only thing that’s predetermined is that at some point the historical precedent will diverge into the fantastical, but it’s up to the author to decide exactly when. What pieces of history are you going to use to build this new world, and which will be strategically left behind? The Witch Haven makes some early choices to view this time period through a more modern gaze. Discriminatory and bigoted opinions are challenged by the author and characters, no matter how common they may have been at the time. This kind of history-lite will be a less grating reading experience for fantasy fans who appreciate a historical atmosphere, but don’t necessarily want to deal with all the baggage that typically accompany it. What this book really centers is the female characters, with the era being more of a backdrop. It’s a compelling story of a young woman trying to find her place in the world while searching to uncover the person(s) responsible for her brother’s death. There’s a focus on the power of women, both soft and hard, and how women have chosen to wield that power to protect themselves and the people they love. Sasha Peyton Smith also includes criticisms of the women’s movement of the time, not limited to: class, ethnicity, race, education, etc. Though still making the argument that women are stronger together, these plot details do add a much needed context to stories like this. Overall I enjoyed The Witch Haven. As a standalone historical novel it’s not going to have the expansive world-building that you may find in other fantasies, but it is still a fun ride! Some of the plot twists were pretty easy to spot from a distance, but I like the final twist of the knife (view spoiler)[lol get it??? (hide spoiler)] in the last chapter & epilogue. There’s also potential for a follow-up, but I think I like the open-endedness as is. *Thanks to Simon & Schuster Young Readers & Netgalley for an advance review copy! **For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    5 STARS Wow! That was a rollercoaster of a book. This was a fantastic debut! I absolutely loved every second of this and I need more right now! I feel like The Witch Haven was a book made for me. It has everything I love: Historical fantasy (set in New York!), found family, dark academia, boarding schools, witches, and of course, lots of plot twists and betrayals. I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. I cannot wait for it to be published so that I can rave about it to everyone I 5 STARS Wow! That was a rollercoaster of a book. This was a fantastic debut! I absolutely loved every second of this and I need more right now! I feel like The Witch Haven was a book made for me. It has everything I love: Historical fantasy (set in New York!), found family, dark academia, boarding schools, witches, and of course, lots of plot twists and betrayals. I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. I cannot wait for it to be published so that I can rave about it to everyone I know! "Women are supposed to be competent at everything, but experts at nothing. Haven't you heard?" The Witch Haven is a young adult historical fantasy set in 1911 New York City. When Frances Hollowell somehow kills a man, two nurses swoop in and tell her that she is ill and needs to be sent to the Haxahaven Sanitarium. The catch? The Haxahaven Sanitarium is actually the Haxahaven School for Witches. "I intend to be so powerful, I won't need protecting." This book kept me engaged from the beginning to the end. One of my favorite parts of the book was the worldbuilding. I'm a sucker for historical fantasies, and this one was particularly well-written. There was a spooky atmosphere of witches alongside the hustle and bustle of 1911 New York, where sexism and misogyny was rampant in everyday life. If I had to nitpick, I wish that the boarding school aspect was more defined, but I still loved it. The characters were also very compelling. I really enjoyed reading about Frances because I could really feel her emotions through the writing. I'm typically not a huge fan of the dead relative trope, but I could really understand her grief. Maxine and Lena were also great characters. I liked that Smith included diversity in her writing. I can't speak on behalf of Natives, but I felt that overall the book had good representation of LGBTQ+ and POC characters (however, I would recommend listening to other #ownvoices readers before me). The plot was also very engaging. There were a couple of slower moments throughout the book, but I felt that they were necessary so that the readers didn't feel overwhelmed. The ending is what really sold it for me! Although the plot twists were a bit predictable, I was still shocked by the ending and I cannot wait to read the second book! Thank you to Simon and Schuster and NetGalley for sending me this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Ruth (The best boyfriends are book boyfriends)

    Thank you Netgalley for this Arc!! This was an incredible read that had me in it's clutches from the very beginning to the last page! I loved following Frances from shopgirl to murderess and then to a school of witchcraft. Six months prior Frances lost her brother. He was murdered but the whole scenario remains mysterious and plagues Frances daily. I loved The group of friends surrounding Frances, not to mention a plot that made me keep turning pages throughout the whole story. The setting is 1911 Thank you Netgalley for this Arc!! This was an incredible read that had me in it's clutches from the very beginning to the last page! I loved following Frances from shopgirl to murderess and then to a school of witchcraft. Six months prior Frances lost her brother. He was murdered but the whole scenario remains mysterious and plagues Frances daily. I loved The group of friends surrounding Frances, not to mention a plot that made me keep turning pages throughout the whole story. The setting is 1911 in NYC and to watch all of this unfold at that time was simply remarkable. I cannot recommend this book enough! It really does have something for everyone and will keep you on your toes! Do yourself a favor and don't miss out on this one!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    2.5⭐ Thank you so much to Simon Teen and Netgalley for providing an e-arc copy. All thoughts and opinions are still my own. I am clearly in the very small minority but this book unfortunately just didn't work for me. I'm break this into parts starting with what I did like. What I Liked This book started off with a serious bang! I was immediately gripped by the bleak and dark atmosphere and no holds barred opening scene. I loved how this story didn't waste any time and got straight into the magical 2.5⭐ Thank you so much to Simon Teen and Netgalley for providing an e-arc copy. All thoughts and opinions are still my own. I am clearly in the very small minority but this book unfortunately just didn't work for me. I'm break this into parts starting with what I did like. What I Liked This book started off with a serious bang! I was immediately gripped by the bleak and dark atmosphere and no holds barred opening scene. I loved how this story didn't waste any time and got straight into the magical world. I liked that the magical world wasn't perfect. It was dark and messy and morally grey. The school and surrounding forest were really atmospheric and I my favorites scenes took place there. That coven scene in the woods really sticks out to me and wish we had gotten more moments like that! What I Didn't Like Unfortunately there was a lot of things I didn't particularly love... First off, while this started off really strong, I felt like it lost momentum and focus around the 30% mark. There were so many scenes that I felt dragged or didn't propel the story forward. The pacing just dropped so substantially that I lost interest by the time the plot picked up again in the last 15% or so. But what I struggled with the most is that this book is heavy on the world and magic and plot but not the characters. As a character driven reader I need to understand the characters I'm following and I could never pin these ones down. Because they felt so underdeveloped, I never understood their decisions or motivations. It felt like Frances' entire personality was the fact her brother died. Why did she mistrust her friends yet trust a stranger in the woods? Why did she overanalyze everything yet give in so quickly to Finn? The character personalities didn't seem consistent but were instead decided in whatever way advanced the plot... My last qualm is a bit of a spoiler so read at your own risk: (view spoiler)[ I really struggled with Finn. I called the outcome of his character from the first introduction, which only added to my frustration that the main character trusted him so completely. (hide spoiler)] In the end I was just so disconnected from the story that the final culmination didn't do much for me. The ending was really action pact and had a fun, open ended epilogue (which I always appreciate). I definitely enjoyed Sasha Peyton Smith's writing and want to read another book from the them in the future - this witchy, historical fantasy just wasn't for me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    Set in 1911 New York. Seventeen-year-old seamstress Frances Hallowell is whisked off to Haxahaven, a school for witches disguised as a tuberculosis sanitarium. But the more she learns about the magical underworld of the city, the more she begins to fear that it may be related to the mysterious death of her brother six months prior. historical fantasy is quickly becoming my favourite subgenre & this sounds amazing! Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram Set in 1911 New York. Seventeen-year-old seamstress Frances Hallowell is whisked off to Haxahaven, a school for witches disguised as a tuberculosis sanitarium. But the more she learns about the magical underworld of the city, the more she begins to fear that it may be related to the mysterious death of her brother six months prior. historical fantasy is quickly becoming my favourite subgenre & this sounds amazing! Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  7. 5 out of 5

    cossette

    i am simply sitting, content warnings: grief, attempted sexual assault, blood, murder both on page and off, stabbing, vomiting, drowning, absentee parents, mutilation of corpses, the main character’s mother resides in an asylum for assumed mental health issues, mentions of asylums, alluded child abuse, discussions of Native American boarding schools, and underage drinking and smoking

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay (pawsomereads)

    Witches, magic and historical fiction combined to make an exciting and captivating read in The Witch Haven. This was a really atmospheric read and I felt so transported to early 20th century New York City. The setting was utilized so well and I feel like it was the perfect choice for where this story should take place. I loved the incorporation of schools for witches as well. So many readers enjoy academic settings for books so I think this really benefitted the story. The mystery aspect was ver Witches, magic and historical fiction combined to make an exciting and captivating read in The Witch Haven. This was a really atmospheric read and I felt so transported to early 20th century New York City. The setting was utilized so well and I feel like it was the perfect choice for where this story should take place. I loved the incorporation of schools for witches as well. So many readers enjoy academic settings for books so I think this really benefitted the story. The mystery aspect was very engaging and I moved through the story quickly, wanting to know what was going to happen next. There were so many surprising twists and turns along the way that made this super difficult to put down. The whole cast of characters were so inviting and I loved reading about the friendships as well as the slow burn romance that was going on. This is the perfect read for anyone who enjoys both historical fiction and fantasy, or is looking to give either genre a try! Thank you to Netgalley, Simon and Schuster and the author for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

  9. 5 out of 5

    gauri

    read full review on my blog! Buckle up friends a new secret boarding school for witches in a city with murderous happenings just dropped is going to drop soon!! I love books that surprise me—even though this one was on my radar ever since it was announced, one can never be sure if they like their anticipated releases can they? I don’t know what drove me to rate this 5 stars but I honestly had so much fun consuming The Witch Haven. The best thing about this book was the steady pace that kept me ho read full review on my blog! Buckle up friends a new secret boarding school for witches in a city with murderous happenings just dropped is going to drop soon!! I love books that surprise me—even though this one was on my radar ever since it was announced, one can never be sure if they like their anticipated releases can they? I don’t know what drove me to rate this 5 stars but I honestly had so much fun consuming The Witch Haven. The best thing about this book was the steady pace that kept me hooked and engaged. I didn’t feel bored, just sat there and witnessed all the twists as the story took off. The worldbuilding is fairly simple. Sasha brings 1911 New York to life with simplistic, beautiful writing. I love that she chose this setting and gave justice to it. The magic system, mainly spells and control of a witch’s power were super intriguing too. I haven’t read this kind of a book in a long while so the witchy aspect was definitely refreshing. The mystery aspect was pretty good too, kept me guessing. The Witch Haven also throws light on the inherent misogyny present in the society—how witches weren’t supposed to be too powerful. Frances and witches like her are taken away to be protected and trained meekly in a school disguised as a sanitarium. I like the way the feminist and unjust undertones were included and essential to the plot. Throughout the entire book, Frances grieves her brother William. This is what drives all her decision, however rash they were. It’s written and explored so well with Smith’s writing bringing out her emotions to the page. Frances is full of hope and desperation, wanting one last chance to see her brother and perhaps get the closure she’s seeking. I absolutely loved Frances, Lena and Maxine’s friendship! They form an interesting support system, helping her figure the mystery behind her brother’s death and looking out for her. Being a YA novel, I appreciate Smith capturing a teenager’s want for not only romantic aspects but also a strong friend group. found family / found friendships have my heart. The Witch Haven brought out the power of female friendships. This trio of witchy best friends who sneak out to learn magic was so fun to read about. Apart from this, The Witch Haven has good Irish rep. I’d recommend reading this article by an Irish reader on Smith’s research and inspiration for the Irish character in The Witch Haven! I’m glad Lena’s character, as a Native woman and witch was included and brought light to, along with the inclusion of queer witches. If I had to critique, I’d say I wish the book stressed on the 1911 New York and boarding school setting a little more. We get glimpses of it, especially of the academic setting when Frances first gets admitted to Haxahaven but I would have liked if we got more scenes relating to those aspects. There’s also a love triangle… of sorts and one of the love interests didn’t sit right with me because he was barely in Frances’ life. But overall, these points didn’t hinder my enjoyment while reading the book. While I eagerly wait for the next book to know what happens after that turn of events and betrayal in the end, I recommend you give The Witch Haven a shot!! If historical fantasy, feminist themes, a swoon worthy boy, witches and magic interests you then this is for you. thank you simon & schuster for the arc!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Helena Paris

    I received this complimentary ARC from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    THE WITCH HAVEN is a dazzling debut -- a wonderfully thrilling, sinister take on a secret school for witches. Sasha Peyton Smith deftly balances a nuanced exploration of loss with a page-turning magical romp through 1911 NYC. I grieved, raged, and swooned right alongside Frances.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress.... Review: 4 Stars As soon as I saw the cover of this book I wanted to read it. I picked it up as soon as I was granted a review copy and by the end of the first chapter I was completely absorbed in this book. The Witch Haven is a historical fantasy set in New York City in the year 1911. The book starts with Frances killing her boss when he attacks her and then being whisked away to a school for witches that is disguised as a You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress.... Review: 4 Stars As soon as I saw the cover of this book I wanted to read it. I picked it up as soon as I was granted a review copy and by the end of the first chapter I was completely absorbed in this book. The Witch Haven is a historical fantasy set in New York City in the year 1911. The book starts with Frances killing her boss when he attacks her and then being whisked away to a school for witches that is disguised as a tuberculosis sanitarium. In a time when women are fighting for equality Frances is trhilled to find out she has magical power, but the Haxahaven school for witches teaches the girls to control their power rather than teach women how to be powerful. Following Frances as she makes friends and the girls seek to learn how to use their power feels like the perfect story for the time period. The book was character driven, but it also had a compelling plot. Frances and her friends find a spellbook and start training to do magic with Finn, who was a friend of Frances’ late brother William. Frances is driven by grief from the loss of her brother and works to become powerful enough to perform a spell that will let her speak to her dead brother. Most of the book follows the girls as they secretly train to become stronger and their quest to find all of the items needed for the spell.The plot is compelling and had a few twists that I didn’t expect, but the characters were what made this book so good. Frances was a well written main character. Watching her grow into someone powerful and struggle with moral decisions was one of my favorite aspects of this book. Frances’ grief over losing her brother drives a lot of her choices and I feel like her grief is written so well. She is so emotionally raw that you can’t help but empathize with her. I also really loved the friendship between Maxine, Lena and Frances. Maxine was so passionate and full of life, Frances’ friendship with her was quite a roller-coaster. Lena was more gentle and kind, but also easy to love. The three of them became so close and I loved the found family vibes. I wanted to know a bit more about them though, especially Maxine as I found her more interesting than Lena. There was a love triangle in this book and the romances were a big part of the story, but they didn’t overshadow the rest of the book. I was hoping Frances would wind up with the other character and felt like the love interest that she did wind up with wasn’t written as well. This led to me having some mixed feelings about the ending of the book, but overall I really liked the book as a whole. The book didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it did end in a way that leads me to believe that there might be a sequel. The Witch Haven was a historical fantasy book with some feminist themes. It’s set in a time period where women are fighting for their rights and there is an interesting contrast between the historical events and the witches at Haxahaven secretly working to become powerful. It’s a great story about women, friendship, grief and morality. If you enjoy feminist themes, witches or historical fantasy I would definitely recommend you give The Witch Haven a shot.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Danielle (always_read_the_end_first)

    This was an okay stand-alone but I kept asking what is the point of this book? I hate when I am reading a book and I feel the protagonist doesn't have a purpose or like there isn't a structure to this novel. I get she wants to solve her brothers murder but what's the plan? she didn't have one. Serial murder? No plan to find them. Doesn't belong at the witch academy? FIND somewhere else. She finally did at the end but I felt like she wasn't too indecisive through out the book. This was an okay stand-alone but I kept asking what is the point of this book? I hate when I am reading a book and I feel the protagonist doesn't have a purpose or like there isn't a structure to this novel. I get she wants to solve her brothers murder but what's the plan? she didn't have one. Serial murder? No plan to find them. Doesn't belong at the witch academy? FIND somewhere else. She finally did at the end but I felt like she wasn't too indecisive through out the book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    ♥Milica♥

    A historical fantasy with a magical boarding school disguised as a sanatorium and a murder mystery waiting to be uncovered? Sign me up! Our main character, Frances, works as a seamstress for an awful man. One day he gets too handsy and Frances defends herself by using magic for the very first time. Next thing she knows, she's swooped up into an ambulance car and taken to Haxahaven sanatorium, which isn't all it seems. At Haxahaven, Frances makes friends and learns very basic magic that would hel A historical fantasy with a magical boarding school disguised as a sanatorium and a murder mystery waiting to be uncovered? Sign me up! Our main character, Frances, works as a seamstress for an awful man. One day he gets too handsy and Frances defends herself by using magic for the very first time. Next thing she knows, she's swooped up into an ambulance car and taken to Haxahaven sanatorium, which isn't all it seems. At Haxahaven, Frances makes friends and learns very basic magic that would help her adjust to life outside of the enchanted building. But what if there's another kind of magic outside the walls? A darker, more dangerous kind? And what about William, her dead brother who still hasn't gotten justice? If Frances doesn't solve the mystery, who will? This was a wonderful read, from start to finish. Parts of the story (mainly Finn's role in Frances' life) were predictable, but I didn't mind. I still fell in love with Finn and I can't be mad at him, no matter what he did. Oliver was a nice character too, although I wish that (view spoiler)[he got a kiss too (hide spoiler)] . All the girls were great. Of course, Maxine and Lena were my faves. The others could've had more development, especially the mean ones (who we never saw do a mean thing). The world building magical and realistic at the same time. Like a perfect blend of both. I'd love to learn more about it. The book ends with a slight cliffhanger which leaves room for a sequel in the future, which I hope will happen because I haven't had enough. 4.5 stars rounded up.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Phoenix2

    The Witch Haven had potential and a very interesting universe, set in the 1900's, in New York. Witches, magicians, schools, gangs, and a murder mystery are the main elements of this story that uses the historical background brilliantly, making full use of it. However, at times it felt rushed and almost like it needed more time to mature. Considering, however, that this is the author's debut novel, she shows potential for a true upgrade in the next book (will there be the next book in this series The Witch Haven had potential and a very interesting universe, set in the 1900's, in New York. Witches, magicians, schools, gangs, and a murder mystery are the main elements of this story that uses the historical background brilliantly, making full use of it. However, at times it felt rushed and almost like it needed more time to mature. Considering, however, that this is the author's debut novel, she shows potential for a true upgrade in the next book (will there be the next book in this series? the last letter kind of suggested as much). Another thing that I've appreciated was the feminist premises of this book. Mostly all of the characters are strong females who know that their current position is of the lower ranks and they want to gain the power they deserve. The indigenous representation was also a great choice. It showed a bit of how a girl like Lena would feel in a society full of white people. Francis was, in addition, an enjoyable character, most of the time. She was quite a delight in the beginning and she was truly a broken soul that was trying to get it together. However, she was acting selfishly most of the time. She was asking a lot of questions as well, but, alas, never the right ones, the ones that would have explained a bit about the magic in this world and such. She also trusted people like Finn way too easily, even though she had a strong repulsion towards any other male around her. Plus, she kept acting like she wanted to say yes but she kept saying no. Like, she wanted to be part of the sisterhood, but she kept sulking in her room alone. Maxine, on the other hand, was quite a delight, though she had her moments when she was simply being impossible. Finn was sketchy right from the start, though the ending was, somehow, one of my likings, even though the twist was a bit rushed. Finally, the writing was pretty great and the pace was pretty smooth.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Online Eccentric Librarian

    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Witch Haven is a nicely atmospheric historical urban fantasy that, while diverting, had some frustrating inconsistencies. As a milieu, 1910s New York is only a side character when it should have shined. The heroine (and most of the other characters) are oddly ambivalent and the magic is never explained. It can be very dark at times and the plot holes/character motivations frustrating. But there are some nice twists an More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ Witch Haven is a nicely atmospheric historical urban fantasy that, while diverting, had some frustrating inconsistencies. As a milieu, 1910s New York is only a side character when it should have shined. The heroine (and most of the other characters) are oddly ambivalent and the magic is never explained. It can be very dark at times and the plot holes/character motivations frustrating. But there are some nice twists and certainly it keeps you reading to solve the mysteries. After her beloved brother's untimely death, Frances is just getting by as a seamstress. It is a thankless job and she is miserable but she sees no other opportunities in 1911 New York. Until the night the company's owner accosts her and she suddenly finds herself with a dead body at her feet, her scissors firmly planted in his neck. The next moment she is whisked away to a 'sanitarium' for tuberculosis, the police hot at her heels. Turns out, Frances has magic powers and the sanitarium is actually a secret school for witches. Frances chafes at the curriculum - using powers to sew, clean, cook more efficiently. When a former friend of her brother's shows up and offers to teach her and her close circle of friends how to use their powers for more, she is all in. But who is Finn and why is he helping them? Surely not only because he was her brother's good friend...... The setting here is very atmospheric - you'll picture a gloomy old world NYC/Queens. But we only really see the witch school and warlock nightclub and I couldn't help but feel so much was missing. Sights, sounds, smells - everything that 1911 City life would have been. Frances seemed more to be just passing through this world rather than having grown up with it. As a character, Frances was frustrating. She is very unhappy most of the book, always wanting more and to do things her way, regardless of the repercussions. It meant she rushed off most of the time and did brainless things. I will always prefer a heroine who can use intelligence and wit to get out of situations, rather than needing luck or a hero to save her from her own stupidity. Granted, throughout the novel, things are not always as they appear and Frances' escapades just a bit too easy to be safe. But seeing the same YA archetype (willful, energetic, spontaneous, and mouthy/rude) is getting tiring: a heroine can be quiet and thoughtful and still be very empowered. She doesn't have to run out and do stupid things to be 'brave'. In the end, she just felt selfish and foolish. The other clichés are here: unique snowflake, a harem of boys all wanting her, the usual escalation of her powerful abilities, and people hiding important facts from her that would make life so much easier. The writing is decent enough to mitigate some of the frustrations with those tropes, though. In all, this is currently a stand alone but it finished in a way that was satisfying but still left some doors open. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel & Lindsey

    ugh okay, this book was incredible and a perfect spooky season read. i think i liked this book so much because it subverted a lot of the expectations i had going in. when i went into this book, i thought it would be about a loving school where the main character was taught by her teachers how to hone her abilites and become more powerful. but haxahaven wasn't the witch school i thought i was going to be reading about, and i loved it! the way that the social issues of the time period were interwoven ugh okay, this book was incredible and a perfect spooky season read. i think i liked this book so much because it subverted a lot of the expectations i had going in. when i went into this book, i thought it would be about a loving school where the main character was taught by her teachers how to hone her abilites and become more powerful. but haxahaven wasn't the witch school i thought i was going to be reading about, and i loved it! the way that the social issues of the time period were interwoven into the story. (view spoiler)[ like how haxahaven taught women only the bare minimum magic to stay sane, and deliberately chose not to teach them about their true power, because women were expected to be docile and take care of the household (hide spoiler)] it was made clear that sexism and racism were happening instead of them being brushed over, and the author was critical of them in the narrative. i'm trying to think back on things i didn't like about it, because there were so many things that i did like. the only thing i can think of is that Finn wasn't always my favorite character and that he was very much romanticized for a while (not surprised, given that Francis was narrating). (view spoiler)[ definitely called Finn being the person who killed Francis' brother from the first time he showed up (hide spoiler)] but the last few chapters turned my view around on him. definitely make sure to check out all the trigger warnings before you read! - lindsey

  18. 4 out of 5

    Celia McMahon

    I am utterly floored by this book! To think this was a debut says a lot about what we are going to get from this author in the future (A Witch Haven 2 perhaps?) New York City, 1911, seventeen-year-old Francis Hallowell is working as a seamstress, getting paid crumbs and living with a group of girls under the eye of a pervy shop owner. She's completely unaware of her magic until it manifests one night, killing the shop owner. But before the law can get her, she's whisked away to a secret magical s I am utterly floored by this book! To think this was a debut says a lot about what we are going to get from this author in the future (A Witch Haven 2 perhaps?) New York City, 1911, seventeen-year-old Francis Hallowell is working as a seamstress, getting paid crumbs and living with a group of girls under the eye of a pervy shop owner. She's completely unaware of her magic until it manifests one night, killing the shop owner. But before the law can get her, she's whisked away to a secret magical school under the guise of having tuberculous. There, she begins her studies into magic. But someone is leaving messages about her dead brother, and Francis wants to know what they know. Her brother's killer has never been caught, and she'd do anything to catch him. Along with some newfound friends, and some old ones, Francis learns of her new powers, what the school has been holding back from her, and the truth about her brother's death. This book caught me hook, line, and sinker from the very first chapter. I love a book where a girl's power awakens, and I will read them all! I loved the diversity, the humor, the love, the mystery....EVERYTHING. There is romance, but it doesn't overshadow the story. With themes, of history, witches, and mystery, this is the perfect fall read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    bie

    there are small things i would've changed, but overall i really liked it! not to mention it caused me so much pain... the good kind, tho thank you to my bestie coco who knows me better than anyone when it comes to books. as always, she was right! there are small things i would've changed, but overall i really liked it! not to mention it caused me so much pain... the good kind, tho thank you to my bestie coco who knows me better than anyone when it comes to books. as always, she was right!

  20. 5 out of 5

    jenn

    “to be a witch is to have power in a world where women have none.” it’s 1911 in new york city. frances, grieving her dead brother by trying to track down his murder, finds her life upturned when the man she works for is attacked by frances herself, though she doesn’t understand how. the following day, things get weirder when she is picked up in the middle of the investigation and taken to the haxahaven tuberculosis sanitarium- supposedly. the secrets of new york unravel as frances learned she, no “to be a witch is to have power in a world where women have none.” it’s 1911 in new york city. frances, grieving her dead brother by trying to track down his murder, finds her life upturned when the man she works for is attacked by frances herself, though she doesn’t understand how. the following day, things get weirder when she is picked up in the middle of the investigation and taken to the haxahaven tuberculosis sanitarium- supposedly. the secrets of new york unravel as frances learned she, nor the other “patients” are sick: they are witches, and haxahaven isn’t a sanitarium, it’s a school. this book is so dark and atmospheric. haxahaven and it’s residents, honestly all dark academia queens, are formed around so many secrets and lies, and classical witches of new york is the formation for a most magical story. frances was a beautiful and strong main character, and though she made some questionable choices, the writing absolutely highlighted her character. there was also some romance in this book, a love triangle of sorts? and it was so dark and twisted and swoony, and had me aching for more. this book is about witches, but through that, it’s about the oppression of women, especially in the past, and the strength that emerged. frances and her fellow witches gaslighted, gatekeeped, and girlbossed their way through this story, and it was a very interesting testament to the past. in the witch haven, the witches are taught that they shouldn’t be powerful, that as a women, their power shouldn’t be too strong. they were displaced from society to be controlled. the way it was written, and the connection between witches and female presenting gender in this book absolutely blew me away, it was genius. separate from the book, sasha peyton smith talked about her inspiration for this story: her grandmother spent much of her young adult life in a new york sanitarium. the isolation of this life, the bright and scarred new york just out of reach for a lonely and grieving girl, is truly at the heart of this book. this book is so much about power and love and trust, and i highly highly recommend, it releases 8/31. i cannot wait for the sequel!! content warnings: grief, death of a sibling, attempted sexual assault, choking, blood, murder (on and off page), stabbing, violence, vomiting, drowning, absentee parents, multination of corpses, parent in asylum for assumed mental health issues, discussion of native american boarding schools, underage drinking and smoking

  21. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 2.5 stars, rounded down because that was one seriously clueless main character. This started really strong and the first 20% or so was great with lots of action and excitement. Then something fizzled and it never really gained momentum again. I think it felt slow to me for a few reasons: — Frances was clueless It just seemed like she made bad decision after bad decision and when someone would speak to her about it, she would throw a tantrum and be a snot and then do whatever she wanted. Of cours 2.5 stars, rounded down because that was one seriously clueless main character. This started really strong and the first 20% or so was great with lots of action and excitement. Then something fizzled and it never really gained momentum again. I think it felt slow to me for a few reasons: — Frances was clueless It just seemed like she made bad decision after bad decision and when someone would speak to her about it, she would throw a tantrum and be a snot and then do whatever she wanted. Of course, her ideas were terrible and basically everything bad that happened was her fault. — lackluster romance Maybe it’s because I’ve read Lair of Dreams, where the villain visits his victims in dreams, but Frances should have seen red flags flying everywhere when it came to Finn. He basically told her he stalked her in dreams for 5 years, and she was ok with it??? That was creepy. It wasn’t surprising at all that he turned out to be the bad guy. — undeveloped characters and plot lines that fizzled Once Frances found out that her mother was locked away in a sanatorium, I thought for sure she would work to rescue her. Nope. Apparently she’s fine with just letting her mother rot away. Neither Frances nor any of the other characters were particularly well developed. Frances’ only characteristic/personality trait was that she wanted to find out who killed her brother. She didn’t have much dimension beyond that. There are also a lot of secondary characters that are introduced basically only by name so that made it very hard to follow. I had high expectations for this book, but the more I read, the less I liked it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Emilie

    At the end of the first chapter of The Witch Haven, I gasped aloud, feeling the prickle of goosebumps along my arms. At the end of chapter thirty, I screamed out loud, felt so overwhelmed by emotion that I shut my laptop, then felt so overwhelmed by curiosity that I immediately opened it again. At the end of the book as a whole, I scrolled right back to the (positively haunting) prologue so that I could start it all over again. And in every moment in between, I felt its words etching their way i At the end of the first chapter of The Witch Haven, I gasped aloud, feeling the prickle of goosebumps along my arms. At the end of chapter thirty, I screamed out loud, felt so overwhelmed by emotion that I shut my laptop, then felt so overwhelmed by curiosity that I immediately opened it again. At the end of the book as a whole, I scrolled right back to the (positively haunting) prologue so that I could start it all over again. And in every moment in between, I felt its words etching their way into my heart forever. Here are some things this book has that you want in your life: Magic practice in the moonlit woods. Sewing shears as a murder weapon. Powerful girls with big feelings and matching black capes. A swoony boy who knits you mittens and trusts in your power. Another swoony boy who has known you since childhood and sees the beauty in your shriveled heart. Twists for DAYS. A trio of best friends who will make your heart ache with the wish that they could be real, and could be your friends too. MAGIC FIGHT CLUB (I refuse to explain further, but trust me, you’re going to lose your mind). But at the end of the day, here is what I love most about this book: its big, beautiful, beating heart, and the way it remembers the pain of being a teenage girl and treats it with the gravity it deserves. This book’s depiction of grief will stay with you forever afterward. Its depiction of a magic school that poses more questions than it answers so perfectly echoes the reality of being a girl growing into young adulthood, and the slow realization that the pain you were shielded from until now is not going away any time soon. But also the way that that pain can show who you are, can take each piece of your broken heart and show you what they will hold when you put them all back together. Frances is a protagonist I wish I’d had when I was seventeen like her. When, like her, I felt simultaneously on the precipice of power and totally helpless. When, like her, I was falling in love with the power of female friendship while fearing that I was totally undeserving of it. When, like her, I was full of grief and rage and hope and desperate for purpose. I finished this book knowing that for the rest of my life, I would think of Frances often, like an old friend. Oh. Also. THE PROSE. I will be buying multiple copies of this book so I can take one and just attack it with a highlighter and a pen. The lilting poetry of the words so perfectly captures the feeling of the world of Haxahaven Sanitarium and New York City beyond it. I MEAN: “I have no time to mourn my ruined clothing or a time when I didn’t know what a body sounded like when it hit the floor.” !!! That line will haunt me for the rest of my life, and it shows up in the first chapter! I could write more. I will continue to write more, I’m sure, in the multiple text messages and emails and carrier pigeon letters I send to everyone I know telling them to buy and read and love this book. As for me, I can’t wait to curl up with a copy of The Witch Haven on the first truly crisp day of fall this year, candles lit and tea poured and heart open, and let it consume and enchant me all over again.

  23. 5 out of 5

    avani

    thank you so much to netgalley and the publishers for an arc in exchange for an honest review! since im still reeling from that ending, here's a nice list of everything i loved: - historical fantasy in 1910's new york - secret school(s) for witches - swoon-worthy, magic boys who call you "love" and knit mittens for you - murder mysteries - witchy best friends who wear capes and sneak out to perform secret spells with you - the perfect, slow burn romance - PLOT TWISTS. AND BETRAYALS THAT HURT. overall, thank you so much to netgalley and the publishers for an arc in exchange for an honest review! since im still reeling from that ending, here's a nice list of everything i loved: - historical fantasy in 1910's new york - secret school(s) for witches - swoon-worthy, magic boys who call you "love" and knit mittens for you - murder mysteries - witchy best friends who wear capes and sneak out to perform secret spells with you - the perfect, slow burn romance - PLOT TWISTS. AND BETRAYALS THAT HURT. overall, i loved literally everything about this book . the characters were well developed and realistic, and it was especially easy to root for our main character, frances. she was determined, practical, kind, and i loved her snark. the writing was simply wonderful, the prose was stunning, and the pacing was steady. it was so easy to fall into the story and not once was i ever bored or confused. this was an incredible ya historical fantasy, with an engaging plot, lovable characters, gorgeous writing, and, the best part, MAGIC. i did not expect to love it this much, but the witch haven has become a new favorite, one that i cannot wait to buy and shove down everyones throat near its release in august.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Willa J Rothenberg

    Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for an advanced readers copy of this book The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith is a YA historical urban fantasy. While I found the beginning slightly slow, once all of the world building foundations had been built the story took off and was extremely well paced. Through out the whole story the writing was fantastic. The way queer witches were included in the story was incredible, with the casual mention of non binary people with magic and wlw character Thank you NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for an advanced readers copy of this book The Witch Haven by Sasha Peyton Smith is a YA historical urban fantasy. While I found the beginning slightly slow, once all of the world building foundations had been built the story took off and was extremely well paced. Through out the whole story the writing was fantastic. The way queer witches were included in the story was incredible, with the casual mention of non binary people with magic and wlw characters (most notably there is a side character who is lesbian). All mention of queer people was natural to the world and not out of place in anyway. As soon as I finished this book I desperately wanted the second one. Smiths storytelling is incredible and I look forward to reading future works of hers.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Mandina

    This book had a lot of really interesting details. I loved the whole historical aspect of New York City. I also really enjoyed how the author kind of related different well-known things from that time period, such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, as well even just how women were treated and sent to sanitoriums and asylums for things that men didn’t like. All of the mystery behind the magic and what was going on between all the different people who had magic was well done with this story. This book had a lot of really interesting details. I loved the whole historical aspect of New York City. I also really enjoyed how the author kind of related different well-known things from that time period, such as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, as well even just how women were treated and sent to sanitoriums and asylums for things that men didn’t like. All of the mystery behind the magic and what was going on between all the different people who had magic was well done with this story. Even though there were certain people in the story that I always had a little inkling of doubt in my head as I read, that they couldn’t really be as good or as sincere as they seemed, the author was able to keep me guessing and twisting my opinion so it went back and forth. There was even a couple twist moments at the end that I didn’t see coming, and then when something happened that totally blew those parts out of the water, wow. Now I feel like it would have been nice to have a little more time with one of the characters that turns out to be the good guy in the end. And honestly, there were times when maybe I felt it was a little long? But since it all wrapped up in the end and there was so much that fit into the bits and pieces to complete the story, that I ended up being okay with it. There was a note at the very end though, and there definitely needs to be a sequel, because there is one very big loose end left to be tied up. So hopefully there will be a book 2! Review first posted on Lisa Loves Literature.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ay

    I didn’t like this book. But I was interested enough to keep reading to the end.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Potterhead Aanya

    OMG THIS WAS BEAUTIFUL DEEP AND BEAUTIFUL BUT THE END......... AHH THE END....... I WANT MORE I NEED MORE RTC

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey

    Meh. I was super interested at first and then it ended up being kinda boring. And almost nothing happened.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elodia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This one is hard to review because while I appreciate how atmospheric it was, everything else fell flat. It promised a witch academy and a battle between witches and wizards, and while it half-heartedly delivered on the latter, it was not enough for me to like this. The Witch Haven mainly focuses on Frances trying to figure out who killed her brother, but that isn't even interesting. All we get is Frances complaining about things. She makes horrible decisions, and if things don't go her way or so This one is hard to review because while I appreciate how atmospheric it was, everything else fell flat. It promised a witch academy and a battle between witches and wizards, and while it half-heartedly delivered on the latter, it was not enough for me to like this. The Witch Haven mainly focuses on Frances trying to figure out who killed her brother, but that isn't even interesting. All we get is Frances complaining about things. She makes horrible decisions, and if things don't go her way or someone disagrees with her, she gets mad and doubles down on her bad decision. Finn was annoying, and I knew how his character was going to go within his first few appearances. Frances claims to understand how others feel but doesn't actually show it. It's as if she thinks saying it over and over will make it true. Also, there was no 'sisterhood'; it's just Frances going around bullying the others into doing what she wants just because she doesn't like school. I wish I had more positive things to say about this one, but I just didn't like it. I still think you should give it a chance if the synopsis is something that intrigues you.

  30. 4 out of 5

    B

    I don’t normally write reviews on books I DNF but I really can’t let this go. I was done by chapter five, but continued reading until chapter eight, where I stopped after the following titillating conversation: “I felt something different.” “Different how?” “Different as in DIFFERENT.” That’s A+ writing quality right there, y’all. I don’t know how this got such good reviews, but I’m here to tell you not to waste your time. The book started out with such promise, and I was here for the atmosphere and I don’t normally write reviews on books I DNF but I really can’t let this go. I was done by chapter five, but continued reading until chapter eight, where I stopped after the following titillating conversation: “I felt something different.” “Different how?” “Different as in DIFFERENT.” That’s A+ writing quality right there, y’all. I don’t know how this got such good reviews, but I’m here to tell you not to waste your time. The book started out with such promise, and I was here for the atmosphere and the creepy tension and the mystery surrounding her brother’s death. Frances seemed to be the start of a great heroin, smart and cunning and badass. But then! When she finally gets to the academy, she suddenly turns into a freaking toddler. She is whiny AF and if it had started this way, I probably would’ve believed you if you had told me she was twelve and not seventeen. All she does is ask question after question instead of, idk, LISTENING, and then gets upset when there are rules and the classes aren’t what she wanted to learn about magic. At the first sign of boredom and the academy not exceeding her expectations, she wants to run away. I’m going to pretend that she did like the child that she is and that that’s where I finished the book. I’d like to think this is a case of me just getting older and not tolerating YA, but honestly…it’s really just that writing quality is going downhill. I could go on, but seriously, I only read eight chapters, and this is already a long review. I will not be wasting my time with the other 400 pages. Save yourself.

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