Burn Mark, Laura Powell [Burn Mark #1]

Title: Burn Mark (Burn Mark #1)
Author: Laura Powell
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: 7th June 2012

image001Burn Mark, by Laura Powell, is an enjoyable, exciting example of taking an old concept, dabbling with alternative history, and making something shiny and new emerge from within the expected. In this world, an almost-real-life world in a time mirroring our own, with England and London as the centre stage, witchcraft is real and has been around since the beginning of time. With power—the fae—drawn from within, witches, both male and female, are now an almost second-class citizen bridled by iron cuffs (sized depended on how much iron is need to impede their fae) and registered with the government. Anyone can become a witch, regardless of their family bloodline, or their history. Anyone. But being a witch means a life of suspicion, of being bridled and being watched closely. The power of witches is not practised openly.

Unless we’re talking about the covens—the illegal crime syndicate groups who work with unbridled and unregistered witches. Imagine the criminal underworld, the mob—but with witches at their side. Of course, not every witch is incredibly powerful. Glory’s aunt, for example, is only a passable witch; nothing at all like her late younger sisters—the Starling twins—and nothing at all like Glory’s mother. They were powerful witches.

But through the campaigning of a charismatic witch invested in promoting both the rights of witchkind and a safer cooperation between witchkind and humans, the lot of witches might be starting to change. Despite the years of terrorism still in the country’s memory, despite the death and destruction, the fear and tension, the situation does seem to be changing. That means little to Glory, since she’s desperate to be a witch and either way, she’s a coven girl—a Starling girl—so she’ll become the head witch in a coven and follow in the legacy of her name. She just would like to do so with her mother there to see and her father not so much a hollow shell of himself, always lost between the incessant beep-beep-beep of his video games. And she would do without the dreams of burning, too.

It’s not every day a witch is burned by the Inquisition—reserved only for the worst witchcrimes—but it happens and it’s a feature of a dream Glory has had for years, and keeps having. Only, in the mirrored reflection she sees in the dream, it’s not her anaesthetised and burning to death—it’s her mother. Gone overnight when Glory was a child and with only a postcard slipped though in her wake, suggesting Glory and her dad forget about her, Glory’s mother has been missing for years. Glory thinks maybe she’s dead—or that she will end up so, burned by the Inquisition. Burnt by the “prickers” who stab witches with iron pins to find their witchmark, their “Devil’s Kiss”, which neither feels pain nor bleeds.

From a less than savoury part of London, with her large hoop earrings and rough, outgoing attitude, Glory is a world away from the life enjoyed by her counterpart.

The son of a very important Inquisitor, Lucas knows he will join the Inquisition; knows he will hunt witches like every other Stearne before him. Except that some plans are never destined to work out. Before he knows it, Lucas finds himself in a situation he knows nothing about, and those who should have been friends, are suddenly more like enemies. With everything changing around him, Lucas practically loses himself, his single purpose in life suddenly snatched away. With his cushy existence, his private school, and money and influence suddenly meaning very little, Lucas must find another way to continue on the spirit of the Stearnes, if not the letter of them.

These two polar opposites will have to band together in order to uncover a plot more sinister and insane than they could have imagined—but this won’t be easy, not with someone out to get Lucas from the start and not with Glory’s delicate situation as an unregistered witch with ties to the infamous Wednesday Coven, where its head enjoys the life (and power) usually afforded celebrities or politicians. If he finds out that Glory is a witch, he will reveal his own plans for her—plans her aunt warns won’t be in her best interests.

Together they must step on delicate ground and strive to unearth the full truth at the heart of the matter—and all before whatever progress has been made on behalf of witchkind is destroyed in an instant. There is a plot afoot and it is up to them and them alone to thwart it.

4-star copyBurn Mark is immensely fun and demonstrates that Powell is a thoughtful and skilled writer. She effortlessly weaves a working relationship between two people from completely different sides of London, with completely different ideas and agendas. Both Glory and Lucas are resistant but determined and despite being so different, they will discover they are more alike than they know and that the other is nothing like they imagined them to be.

An entirely enjoyable and exciting urban fantasy that offers elements of mystery and danger coupled with investigation and the paranormal.  If you like the idea of witches and a teenage secret service, then this one is for you. Bucket-loads of excitement and definitely a thrill-a-minute once the real action starts. Give it a go: it is fun, fast and a little bit different.


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