A thorn witch with the power to walk between the realms of Life and Death finds herself at the center of a magical rebellion—and a dangerous romance—that could destroy her coven and her soul in this dark and decadent debut.
Thorns, Tides, Embers, Storms, and Ores. All five covens are bound in servitude to the tyrant High Warden of Halstett. Penny Albright is a daughter of the thorn coven, forced to patrol the veil between the realms of Life and Death.
Each night, one thorn witch—and only one—must cross the veil by burning at the stake. Each morning, that witch draws on their magic to return. Failure to follow the rules risks the veil and risks them all.But one morning, Penny's favorite sister Ella doesn't return. And that night, determined to find her, Penny breaks the rules. She burns in secret. And she discovers that all isn’t as it seems in Life or Death.
Her journey leads her to Malin, a devastating lord with too many secrets; to Alice, a mysterious captive prophet; and to a rebellion brewing in the shadows beneath the city. And as Penny's world splits, she’ll face a devastating choice.
Because it’s not just her sister’s life that hangs in the balance. It’s the fate of all magic. All it takes is one witch—and one spark—to set the world ablaze.
Tonight, I Burn is the first book in the dark and romantic fantasy series Thorn Witch, the debut of Katharine J. Adams, published by Orbit Books. A character driven story about rebelling against the established powers and the prize paid for it, narrated with the really peculiar voice of the main character, Penny, and a really interesting world-building centered about witchery.
If I can define this book with one word, it would be intense. From the first moment, when Ella is stranded in the Death, to her first time burning, and onwards, we can see how Penny has a fire inside, a flame that will impulse her to take difficult decisions if needed; she risks her own if that means bringing hope to the others. In this novel, Penny shines with her own light, bringing many feelings with her actions, and sharing her own interior world with the reader.
While the secondary characters are relatively less important at the start, outside of Ella, who represents a big anchor for Penny, and will become the spark which ignites Penny's flame, they gain relevance in parallel with the plot, going from the small to the big, from the coven to a general revolution. Adams makes us care about them.
Outside of these aspects, Adams has created a deeply detailed world, centered around witchery, power and the different covens; a world whose hierarchy has grown until becoming oppressive, creating the necessity of a revolution that changes it. Following Penny's into the Death's realm is a weird and oniric experience, complementing the material side of the world-building.
I can totally recommend Tonight, I Burn if you want to read an intense fantasy debut, which ends letting all set for a second book that hopefully will be ready next year. In the search of also some queer fantasy with witchery? You have the answer here.
Katharine J. Adams
Katharine worked in medical imaging until moving to the glorious Kapiti Coast in Aotearoa where she spends her days writing, playing taxi to her children, and making space for just one more book on overflowing shelves. She’s passionate about positive LGBTQ+ representation in literature and genuinely thought everyone secretly liked all genders for an embarrassingly long time. If she’s not out mountain biking or hiking with her family, she’s often found hiding in the garden where she accidentally kills more plants than she does characters in her stories.