By Valerie Tejeda
Available now from Bloomsbury Spark
In Hollywood, witches have to kill to stay alive. Hunters are born to hunt them and to protect those they prey on, even though the witches get the most power and youth from the worst people. They still don't deserve to die. Iris is the first girl to be born with the hunter gene, and she's been fighting to be part of the group instead of left in the kitchen (literally).
That premise is seriously retrograde, so I appreciated newly found hunter Arlo pointing out just how stupid it is. Arlo always wanted to be a pop star, so being pressed into being a hunter hasn't made him too happy. He's one of two love interests. The other is Silos, an older man from Scotland who Iris dreams about before meeting. I thought either of them were decent romantic options, but I'm so over triangles.
HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER is full of great characters playing out cliches. Iris is smart and believes her own observations over what others tell her about the world. Her brother Knox is the kind of brother everybody wants. Belinda, the head witch, has her own intriguing agenda going on. But I could guess every twist and turn the story took, including the surprise ending leading into the next book in the series.
The other thing that bothered me about HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER is the way that Iris starts to bond with some of the witches. I am all for realizing that you've been indoctrinated your whole life and those people you've trained to hunt are actually people, but even as she got closer they were still killing people and Iris knew it. Being fun to hang out with doesn't turn a murderer into a good person.
HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER is Valerie Tejeda's first novel, so I hope she'll work out some of those kinks. She's got characterization down, but she needs to find a plot of her own. I did like that she made Iris half-Colombian, which figured into the plot. People tend to assume that Iris is with the help, and being able to speak Spanish makes her a better investigator since she can talk to more people.
If you're interested, HOLLYWOOD WITCH HUNTER is on sale for the first week of its release for $2.99.