For my Goodreads challenge this year I made a commitment to read 50 books and make half of them by indie and/or Indigenous creators. I couldn’t help but support a fellow Atmosphere writer in the process of reaching that goal, so I picked up Witches & Vampires by Brianna Witte, an Ontarian author who has a number of short story publications under her belt.
Surprising no one, I adore contemporary fantasy and magical realism. The is the former, and I have to say that Witte has an intriguing world as the backdrop of her story. Magic is a natural part of life for the world of Elontra, and various magical beings are divided into warring factions.
The main character, Merissa, is at the heart of the narrative, and the reader is immediately thrust into what seems to be her worst day ever. She’s a gifted witch whose destiny is much bigger than she imagined. Witches & Vampires is the story of her being forced to face the many secrets from which she’s spent her life being sheltered.
Along the way she meets Derik, a vampire whose people have been forced to live in seclusion to avoid being enslaved by a faction of wizards known as The Dark Shadows. He’s determined to seek justice for his people, and their journeys become entwined.
The story is quick at only 132 pages and moves forward with a swift pace, which felt too fast to me for the narrative unfolding. I kept finding myself wanting more; more world building, more background, more interactions, just more. Witte has a story to tell, and may have done herself an injustice by keeping the story so direct. The things I wanted to see the most—the building relationship between Derik and Merissa, Merissa’s magical training, the events that led to the power dynamics—happen ‘off-screen’. I like my fiction terse to a point, my annoyance with Tolkien-esque writing well-established, but I kept finding myself wishing she’d wander off to tell some side stories.
I truly hope Witte goes on to write more in this world, whether it’s to give us another Merissa and Derik story, or introduce us to a whole new cast. I’m going to keep an eye out for more of her work.