Salem’s Revenge strikes without warning or mercy, ravaging the powerless human race under the forces of united gangs of witches, wizards, and warlocks. During the slaughter, Rhett Carter’s foster parents and sister are killed, and his best friend and girlfriend are abducted by a gang of witches calling themselves the Necromancers, who deal in the dark magic of raising the dead. Rhett’s sword-wielding neighbor with a mysterious past saves Rhett from becoming another casualty of the massacre and teaches him the skills he needs to survive in this new world.
Rhett is broken, his normal high school life of book blogging and football playing shoved in a witch-apocalyptic blender. The only thing he has left is his burning desire for revenge. Armed with his new witch hunting skills and a loyal, magic powered dog named Hex, he sets out into the unknown with one mission: hunt and destroy those who took away everyone he ever loved.
But Rhett isn’t just a witch hunter; he has secrets of his own that he has yet to discover, secrets that his enemies will stop at nothing to keep him from.
And discovering the truth about himself is the human race’s only hope.
by David Estes
Salem’s Revenge #1
October 1, 2014
Brew is a YA post-witch-apocalypse, the first of three. It follows a young fellow, Carter, who survives Salem’s Revenge, a coordinated attack by witches against humans due to a resurgence of persecution by the government. He turns witch hunter and goes on a quest to save his girlfriend, Beth, from a gang of necromancers. On the way, he meets up with a girl his age and her troubled little sister, who decide to join him on his quest.
Alright, let me start by saying that on the whole I’m a fan of David Estes’ books. This one seems to be a one-off, because I can’t say that I like this. Almost halfway through, I nearly gave up on it, but I wanted to finish just in case it turned around. That being said, I did like a few things about the story, so I’ll note those before I move on to why the book didn’t quite do it for me.
First off, I liked the dog, Hex. It’s interesting, it’s magical, and it’s charismatic. I also liked Trish, not just because she has my name, but because she’s an enigma. Why won’t she talk? What’s her back story? Her big sister Laney keeps her mouth shut on the matter for most of the book, and this was one of the plot points that kept me reading. And Carter himself is sort of interesting, though he’s a bit ignorant (probably a self-defense mechanism) regarding his missing girlfriend and her likely status. I also thought the book was easy to read and the descriptions were quite effective. Too effective in some cases.
That leads into the primary reason I didn’t care for this book: the detailed, gruesome descriptions of atrocities committed by the witches. That such things are happening, well sure, it is the apocalypse, but come on. I don’t need the details about children being tortured, or families being cut down by an illusion that makes them attack themselves and each other, or the school bully that, despite his nasty character, didn’t deserve to be disintegrated in a witch’s unattended cauldron. It’s constant and overwhelming with an utter lack of regard to human life. I realize the intent must be to show how horrible things are to give Carter something to fight against, but I found it to be too much.
I also thought the building in of social/racial acceptance to be a bit heavy-handed, although otherwise welcome. It was a nice gesture, but constant reminders that Carter and Beth are black or that Carter’s good friend is gay make it seemed contrived, and not natural, particularly since the story is told from Carter’s first person perspective. Why would he keep thinking of these things?
Overall, I didn’t care for this book, although I think the story ranks as ok since it is well-written/edited, easy to read, and has plenty of action and a somewhat solid goal. I managed to finish it, though I considered stopping about midway through when it was obvious the killing would continue in copious detail. I think folks who like a post-apocalyptic story with a lot of action, angst, gore, and witches/undead enemies galore, might just find this to their liking. Liking other David Estes books does not necessarily mean one would like this one. It’s much darker than the others I’ve read (Country and Dwellers series).
The review copy of this book was purchased by the reviewer.
About David Estes
David Estes was born in El Paso, Texas but moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was very young. He grew up in Pittsburgh and then went to Penn State for college. Eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia where he met his wife and soul mate, Adele, who he’s now been happily married to for three years.
A reader all his life, David began writing novels for the children’s and YA markets in 2010, and has completed more than 20 novels, all of which have been published. In June of 2012, David became a fulltime writer and is now living in Hawaii.
David gleans inspiration from all sorts of crazy places, like watching random people do entertaining things, dreams (which he jots copious notes about immediately after waking up), and even from thin air sometimes! Recently he’s been inspired by some of his favorite authors, like Dean Koontz, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth, and Neal Shusterman.
David’s a writer with OCD, a love of dancing and singing (but only when no one is looking or listening), a mad-skilled ping-pong player, an obsessive Goodreads group member, and prefers writing at the swimming pool to writing at a table. He loves responding to e-mails, Facebook messages, Tweets, blog comments, and Goodreads comments from his readers, all of whom he considers to be his friends.