Synopsis: “From the moment she first learned the truth about witches…she knew she was born to fight them.”
Now, at sixteen, Iris is the lone girl on the Witch Hunters Special Ops Team. But when Iris meets a boy named Arlo, he might just be the key to prevent an evil uprising in Southern California. Together they’re ready to protect the human race at all costs. Because that’s what witch hunters do.
Welcome to Hollywood.
When I first saw this I thought “Cool! It looks like a combination of Charmed and Supernatural with a little bit of Buffy mixed in.” Well, have you ever read a book or watched a movie that has everyone raving about it, yet leaves you scratching your head and wondering what you’re missing? Hollywood Witch Hunter was that kind of read for me.
The book sets things up with a prologue that gives you a short backstory of a witch named Belinda who lives in Hollywood. She not only takes the lives of young self-absorbed girls to keep herself beautiful, but she then places a curse on all the witches living in Hollywood so they are all forced to do the same. Huh.
Enter the Witch Hunters. They’re the only ones standing between witches and innocent, unsuspecting humans. They’re also for the most part a bunch of male chauvinist pigs. I’m sorry, but there’s just no other way to put it. The men are the only ones who inherit this so-called hunter gene, which allows them to successfully battle their enemies. Because they don’t possess these special abilities, women are kept in the background and basically clueless. Iris is the first female with the Hunter gene and is begrudgingly allowed to become part of the elite special ops team. Her brother Knox and a couple of other hunters are the only ones who treat her as an equal. Personality deficits aside, Hollywood has remained fairly safe thanks to the Witch Hunters, until now. Strange things are happening, and Belinda is suddenly acquiring new powers. Yet she doesn’t seem to be the villain she once was. The only thing that’s clear is that Iris is somehow involved.
You’d think that Iris would be a sympathetic character with that kind of set-up, but no matter how much I tried, I just couldn’t connect with her. I understand she’s trying to prove herself to not only her father, who’s in charge of the Witch Hunters, but also the rest of the group. She shows promise in that she’s strong and capable, and trusts her own judgment instead of simply being a follower. However, many times throughout the book these qualities present themselves more like self-centeredness and arrogance.
I’m not generally a fan of love triangles and the one in this book was truly horrendous. On one hand you have earnest boy band material Arlo, who has been recruited by the Witch Hunters and has selected Iris to train him. He’s one of the dullest characters I’ve read in a long time. On the other, there’s the mysterious and attractive Silos, who is Scottish and has magical powers including sharing visions with Iris. He’s also quite interested in her. Throughout the entire book I found myself wondering how Iris could be torn between Arlo who has all the personality of a pet rock, and the more mature and mesmerizing Silos. I wanted to reach in, grab her by her shoulders, and shake some sense into her!
The plot moves along quickly and has plenty of action. Without giving away any spoilers Iris discovers that things aren’t quite as black and white as she’s been taught. As she discovers some pretty dark secrets about her father and the Witch Hunters, she starts getting more involved with some of the witches, including Belinda. I’m all for throwing off the shackles of indocrination and seeing both sides, but I had a major problem with this as her new buddies are still killers. Just because they love to party and have their fun moments doesn’t makes them any less the remorseless murderers that they are.
This is Valerie Tejeda’s first novel, so hopefully she’ll get better with writing more likeable and three-dimensional characters. The plot itself is interesting and full of dry humor which helps keep things moving along. I also like that Iris is Columbian and uses her ability to speak fluent Spanish to obtain information which otherwise would be difficult to gather. Unfortunately for me, the negatives outweigh the positives and I don’t think I’ll be trying the sequel when it comes out.