There are beautiful accidents in the world and this was one of them. I was in the library and let someone pick out a book for me. Normally, I tend to stay away from the witchy side of things. It’s been done to death and it would just mean either a really ugly woman or a disgustingly sexy vixen who left drooling men in her wake. Neither of them would really interest me so I was ready to dismiss the novel out of hand. Then I saw the tagline:
“A tale of vengeance, true love, and cannibalism”
How on earth can you go wrong with that?
So from the very beginning, A Nameless Witch continued to surprise me. As jaded as I am about the treatment of witches in the media, I was expecting to not like this novel at all. Instead, it was a perfect break from all the heavy books that I had been reading at the time. In A Nameless Witch, we follow our titular character through her adventures. From the very beginning, I was charmed by the way that she acted and the pragmatism that is so often lacking in fantasy stories.
The novel reminds me somehow of the fantasy books that I used to read when I was younger, as if it’s a modern take on an older way of telling stories. On top of that, the cast of the story was unique enough that I found myself feeling giddy and gleeful at their antics. Dark and gritty fantasy is popular these days, borne on the wings of George R. R. Martin’s novels, so A. Lee Martinez presented a welcome change to the status quo.
Despite the dire nature of their quest and the danger within it, there is humour in every step of their journey. The world could fall to ruin, but at the very least, they’ve still got their ability to laugh. There were aspects of the novel that reminded me of the lighthearted nature of Miyazaki Films (although that does not mean I’d recommend this novel to children). The jokes and the setting are mature, but the levity is enough to make A Nameless Witch feel entirely different from its contemporaries.
If you’re looking for a fun and fantastical romp with a witch that is both exactly what you would expect and nothing like you would expect, this novel is for you. Our Nameless Witch is one of the true joys of the story, unwilling to be forced off of the path she’s chosen, and fully in control of herself. She knows what her place is and what she’s capable of. She knows well enough to disguise herself so that men remain fearful and she’s not going to be merciful to those who cross or endanger her.
If I still haven’t sold you on this novel yet, here’s my last gambit. A Nameless Witch was somehow able to make me fall in love with both a duck named Newt and a broom. I’m not one for animate objects generally, so imagine my surprise when that broom swept its way into my heart.
It was beautiful until Newt tried to kill me.