Book Review: Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart
Series Number: 1
Published: 20 April 2021
Page Count: 560
Trust no witch . . . Iraya Adair has spent her life in a cell. Heir of an overthrown and magically-gifted dynasty, she was exiled from her home on the island nation of Aiyca when she was just a child. But every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance. Jazmyne Cariot grew up dressed in gold, with stolen magic at her fingertips. Daughter of the self-crowned doyenne, her existence is a threat to her mother's rule. But unlike her sister, Jazmyne has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother's power. Sworn enemies, the two witches enter a deadly alliance to take down the woman who threatens both their worlds. But revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain - except the lengths Iraya and Jazmyne will go to win this game. Two witches. One motive. And a very untrustworthy alliance.
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Witches Steeped in Gold is a book about identity. Finding it, losing it, the pressure of it, and reshaping it into what you want and need. With a cast of all black characters, Smart has created an incredible fantasy world inspired by Jamaican folklore with a unique magical system. The two main characters are both unsure of the heritage and position they were born to and while they both want what is best for their people they end up on two completely different paths. When I started Witches Steeped in Gold I thought this was going to go a certain way, and even despite listening to Smart on a panel at the Cymera Book Festival very clearly say that it doesn’t go the way you’d expect I was still really surprised by how things went. I was warned beforehand and I still didn’t see it coming!

There are a huge amount of important and complicated issues covered in this novel and Smart does so smoothly through the use of alternating narratives. Witches Steeped in Gold isn’t a book that could have been told by just one narrative, in my opinion, it was essential to have both Iraya and Jazmyne’s perspectives every step of the way. It made the whole story that much personal rather than this becoming another tale of the victim or the oppressor. As the saying goes there are always two sides to every story and that is exactly the case for Witches Steeped in Gold.

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