Author: Shannon Delany
Genre: Historical, Alternate Universe, Steampunk, Paranormal
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Source: Finished paperback from the publisher for review
Synopsis: In a vastly different and darker Philadelphia of 1844, steam power has been repressed, war threatens from deep, dark waters, and one young lady of high social standing is expecting a surprise at her seventeenth birthday party–but certainly not the one she gets!
Jordan Astraea, who has lived out all of her life in Philadelphia’s most exclusive neighborhood, is preparing to celebrate her birthday with friends, family and all the extravagance they might muster. The young man who is most often her dashing companion, Rowen Burchette, has told her a surprise awaits her and her best friend, Catrina Hollindale, wouldn’t miss this night for all the world!
But storm clouds are gathering and threatening to do far more than dampen her party plans because someone in the Astraea household has committed the greatest of social sins by Harboring a Weather Witch.
☆: 3/5 stars -Despite a myriad of problems, this is a lot of fun!
Delany’s werewolf series never caught my attention because werewolves don’t work well with me, but steampunk and Weather Witches? Now that sounded fun, especially after a copy of Weather Witch showed up on my doorstep and gave me the pretty-cover equivalent of puppy eyes. There’s a lot that needs improvement, but despite it all, Weather Witch is a really fun read and would be especially good for an airplane ride or similar trip.
Delany’s strongest suit in her novel is easily the ideas, especially the idea behind the Weather Witches. Their horrible treatment and how society is largely conditioned to be okay with it lends a little dystopian element to the novel, though it’s not strong enough to earn it the label. With a little more explanation of terms like Lighting Up, Drawing Down, and other ominously capitalized terms, the Witches could have been even more strongly characterized (though they’re pretty well-characterized as they are after the ultimate truth behind their origin is revealed).
I still have one question, though: if a Weather Witch is how the settlers made it safely to the New World and avoided being eaten by the vicious mermaid-like Merrow, why hate them so much and force them into slavery?
The society Delany builds is a little silly with its class system and how people say they’re Fifth of the Nine or another number to announce their class to others (First of the Nine being the highest, I believe), but the Victorian-esque society is an easy one to dive into thanks to its familiarity. Not even the sometimes-overwrought prose had the ability to shake me for long! What did shake me was how little time each POV got because there were simply too many POVs in this little book. Two of them really had my attention, but due to the split between those and the four or five others, they didn’t get all the attention they deserved.
Finally, I come to the characters themselves. Jordan’s story is the one most worth caring about because we’re never sure if she’s been framed or if she’s really a Weather Witch. There’s strong evidence on both sides and the eventual explanation of it? Pretty brilliant! I’ve got no clue if it’s even remotely possible, but due to the paranormal elements of it all, I’ll let it slide and take the explanation as it is. The Maker’s POV is predictable but still sweet. If only his relationship with his long-lost daughter had been incorporated into Jordan’s POV so we’d see their growing relationship through her eyes and have more time in her head…
Oh well! Besides all that, Rowen’s part of the story may have been the weakest. There’s not terribly much that happens in Weather Witch, but his story has the least progress of any of them. Jordan gets taken away, he kills a man in a duel, and goes on a journey to find and rescue Jordan. That’s all there really is to his and it’s not that necessary. Marion’s POV and his desire for revenge aren’t much stronger than Rowen’s sections, but they’ve got potential and there’s no doubt they’ll go somewhere delicious in the next novel!
It may sound like I didn’t like Weather Witch much at all, but it’s fun enough that I might keep an eye out for Stormbringer, the next novel in the series. Here’s hoping it trims down the POVs, focuses more on those few plot lines, and gives the characters the depth they deserve.