Posted in book reviews

The Hawkweed Prophecy – Irena Brignull

The babies were born as the clock struck twelve. A bat fell from the air mid-flight. A silver salmon floated dead to the surface of the river. Snails withered in their shells, moths turned to dust on the night breeze and an owl ate its young. The spell had been cast.

Poppy Hooper has managed to deceive her father into believing that there is nothing mysterious or unnatural about her. He ignores the cats that find her wherever she goes, the spiders that weave beautiful lacy patterns for her, even her eyes – one blue, one green with an extra black dot orbiting the pupil.

Ember Hawkweed is a pitiful excuse for a witch. When the other girls in her coven brew vile potions, Ember makes soap and perfume. Fair and pretty, Ember is more like a chaff than a witch. One of the Hawkweeds will be queen of the witches – but everyone knows it won’t be Ember.

When the two girls meet, Poppy discovers her powers, and finds out the truth. Bound by their unlikely friendship and the boy they both love, the girls try and find their place in the world. But the time of the prophecy draws nearer – and the witches won’t give up the throne without a fight.

The Hawkweed Prophecy, to quite simply put it, was a mess. What started off a strong and intriguing dark fantasy quickly faded away to nothing but a badly written fantasy/romance. This book had the potential to be a great fantasy with great female characters, as it started off so.

Where to begin? First I must talk about the structure and how this novel switches between perspectives suddenly. There’s no prior warning. Nothing. One minute you’re reading something from one persons point of view; and then someone elses the next! This heavy juxtaposition between the perspectives was dreadful – it was confusing and I often got lost on whose point of view I was in and why. Honestly – the meaning was lost. I read the same scene over and over again from many different point of views. I wouldn’t mind if it served a purpose, but it did not, and instead it felt long winded and dragged out.

OH THE LOVE TRIANGLE / INSTA LOVE. Poppy literally meets Leo, and then the next day she’s invited him into her house alone. When he leaves, she brings his mug up to her lips and places her mouth where his just was.

I just ? ? ? no.

Oh and Ember. As soon as she meets him she’s instantly in love and of course Poppy then thinks it was her destiny to bring these two people together. Sure. Ember has never seen a man before, Leo’s the first, so? It’s not like she had much to compare him with? Not to mention that Sorrel, in her own twisted way, has an infatuation with him.

And Leo . . . well boy can’t make up his mind, can he? One minute he’s making out with Ember and then running to Poppy saying how he’s desperately in love with her and how she’s his true love. . . and then he’s making out with Ember again. HE. CAN’T. MAKE. UP. HIS. MIND.

To me it’s like the author can’t actually decide what she wants. It’s just a mess – one minute it’s going in a solid and clear direction, and then any development or characterisation that’s been made is out of the window. It’s like every time the author sat down she changed her mind but didn’t want to backspace what she had written. UGH.

Oh and the female characters. Petty? Check. Stupid? Check. Stereotyped? Check. I mean of course we have to have a mean girl. Of course we have to have the whole “special snowflake” thing. And Ember . . . I just. The author promotes her prettiness as what was it . . . being fair haired and pale? Don’t hold me exactly to that – the characters were so boring and bland they all began to blend together as one.

WHAT WAS THE PLOT? No, seriously. I’m asking you. It started off strong with a classic-switchero, and of course, THE PROPHECY. But was soon taken over by the mindless “romance” scenes and Poppy and Ember continually moaning about how they don’t fit in, while Raven is just being a weirdo and an abuser to her daughter.

Side note: I really loved Ember’s and Poppy’s friendship to begin with. I think it started off too quickly – but I liked the companionship and comfort they found in each other and the dell. But that soon faded away to nothing but petty jealousies and hate. Sometimes the touch of sisterhood would come back but then the moment was robbed by thoughts of Leo.

Anyways – back to the lack of plot. Yeah. It kept disappearing. I think if this book had focused more on that then it would have been better. I did like how we saw Poppy actually practice, and it wasn’t just on a whim of “hey! look how good I am at this thing I’ve never learnt before!” but still. It wasn’t great.

Oh and the PARENTS. I mean they were all shitty. Especially Poppy’s father. He blamed Poppy for something, that wasn’t her fault, making her feel guilty and worthless all because he didn’t want to out himself and his secret. So he used his daughter to get what he wanted and basically punished her for the thing he knew he shouldn’t have. Make sense?? I am trying not to spoil too much.

ANYWAYS – much like the plot, I am going off track. But yeah. Moments where the plot was put back in I was like WOO we’re getting somewhere only to be robbed of it like two pages later. I’m not happy about this.

The writing was okay, even if the writing structure was not.

OH! ALSO. THIS WITCHCRAFT. It’d be nice to actually understand how the spells work? Like one minute they have to chant and then spells happen? Other times, like in the duel, they just hold out their hands and blast? Then they talk about only some can shape shift BUT THEN WE GET TONS THAT CAN SHAPESHIFT? Other times we have to use ingredients for spells?? HOW DOES THIS ALL WORK? TELL ME. MAKE ME UNDERSTAND. I just don’t think the system was properly explained and there was NO excuse for that. While Poppy was inexperienced, and Leo had nothing to do with the witch world, the rest of the narrators did. So there’s no reason why this could have been clearer.

Oh. The world-building. For starters, I was confused with what time period we are in. Secondly, and maybe I wasn’t reading clear enough, but where is this set? America? Some made up town? WHERE? How come no ones accidentally walked into this hidden forest place that’s just outside town that looks like it came from the 1400’s? Does magic protect it? WHAAAT? TELL ME.

I am silently screaming in frustration.

Oh and the ending. Throwing out these plot twists of HAHA, but it was obvious?? Like ?? It’s not like it was subtly hinted at so if you didn’t come out and give that explanation for it it would be a pile of shit?? I’m just surprised the characters didn’t figure it out sooner. SO. OBVIOUS.

But yeah. I think that’s it. Maybe. That’s all my important points – if I were to nitpick further I could possibly run out of characters.

So overall, I liked the idea. It had a strong start and sometimes was strong in plot, but for the most of it it wasn’t. Rather it favoured a dodgy love triangle, poor characterisation, and lost sight of the point of the whole novel. I doubt I’ll be continuing on with this series, but I am a curious person . . . so I’ll probably read the second one. . .

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