ARC Review | Witches of Ash & Ruin

“There was a little witch in every woman, but not every woman was a witch.”

Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Format: e-ARC

Thank you Freeform for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for a honest review!


42773037. sy475 Seventeen-year-old Dayna Walsh is struggling to cope with her somatic OCD; the aftermath of being outed as bisexual in her conservative Irish town; and the return of her long-absent mother, who barely seems like a parent. But all that really matters to her is ascending and finally, finally becoming a full witch-plans that are complicated when another coven, rumored to have a sordid history with black magic, arrives in town with premonitions of death. Dayna immediately finds herself at odds with the bewitchingly frustrating Meiner King, the granddaughter of their coven leader.

And then a witch turns up murdered at a local sacred site, along with the blood symbol of the Butcher of Manchester-an infamous serial killer whose trail has long gone cold. The killer’s motives are enmeshed in a complex web of witches and gods, and Dayna and Meiner soon find themselves at the center of it all. If they don’t stop the Butcher, one of them will be next.

With razor-sharp prose and achingly real characters, E. Latimer crafts a sweeping, mesmerizing story of dark magic and brutal mythology set against a backdrop of contemporary Ireland that’s impossible to put down.

The Verdict

This book seriously has a lot going for it but also a few things that I would have liked a little more from. I feel like I can’t really complain too much though because if it has witches in it, I’m here for it. Plain and simple.

What I Liked

👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 Multiple POV’s. This is definitely one of those instances where I think it worked so well for the story. It’s told from Dayna – our MC, Meiner – the new witch in town, Cora – Meiner’s best friend/rival/ex-fling, Sam – Dayna’s ex-boyfriend and serial killer expert, and Dubh – known to the people as the serial killer called The Butcher but known to the witches as the witch hunter. Trust me, I know it sounds like a lot but they all bring so much to the story in terms of piecing the bigger picture together. And I totally loved reading from the bad guy’s POV throughout the entire book.

🕐 It’s a modern day story. I really enjoyed how this story is with the times but also not something overly saturated with pop culture references, it just felt super right. And to make matters even better, it still does have that touch of cozy witch vibes while Dayna is with her coven.

💥 Action packed. Don’t make plans once you hit the second half of the book, because it is a race against time for the characters and you’re not going to want to be interrupted as they realize just how high the stakes are if they fail.

💘 Representation. There’s a whole lot going on for this book in terms of representation. Queer, bisexual, anxiety, and OCD which all added so many wonderful layers to the story. Dayna suffers panic attacks and OCD and Meiner mentions that she too suffers from a similar issue which she takes medication for. I think that rep in itself was handled very respectfully and there were a few good conversations in terms of coping and finding what works vs. what doesn’t for us individually.

🏔 A solid cliffhanger. This book totally ends on a game changing cliffhanger. It’s one of those where as soon as you start reading it you know what’s going to happen but it still takes you by surprise anyway. It’s also nice in a way because while it is a pretty big bombshell I don’t have a book hangover from it but will still pick up the next book as soon as it comes out.

What I Didn’t Like

🌎 The missed opportunity. It’s not that the world-building in this was bad, because character and mythology-wise it was good but atmosphere-wise it felt like a HUGE missed opportunity. Before I start reading any book I always reread the synopsis one last time to remind me what I’m getting myself into. So, reading words like “Celtic mythology” and “Ireland” brought even more excitement to the story. However, if it wasn’t for the synopsis saying this book took place in Ireland I would have had no idea until it’s confirmed later on in the story. It was definitely a bit of a bummer for me when you think about how much more it could have added to the story.

👨‍👩‍👧 Dayna’s family. This felt a little wishy-washy for me because I think we’ll probably get more answers in the next book, but it seemed like there were just too many ideas crammed into this book. Dayna’s father is reverend and her mother has just returned from “camp”. Her mother who has been in and out of her life, suddenly returns in a very fragile state of mind and while we do get some answers on what’s going on there’s still so much unknown. As for Dayna’s father, he didn’t sit well with me at all because he had previously threatened to send Dayna away to “camp” for the smallest of things, but when Dayna would be with her coven (unbeknownst to him) for days at a time he wouldn’t even care? I don’t know, I hope we get more clarity on all of that in the next book because it just felt off in this book.

tw: mention of rape, forced outing, homophobia

Until next time,



7 thoughts on “ARC Review | Witches of Ash & Ruin

  1. This is one of my most anticipated books of the year! Bummer you didn’t love it. It sucks when a first book feels like a whole lot of setup but I’m glad I have a more realistic expectation going in now. Hopefully, the next installment is better. Great review!


  2. This year has been amazing as far as witchy books so far. I’m about 10% of the way into this, and I definitely picked it up for the witches, but also a little for serial killers (which sounds weird to root for that, but hey, I’m gonna go ahead and own it anyway). I love your review (and the way you break it down!). Good to know about the second half. I think I’ll make sure to stop before I hit that tonight, since I need some sleep. xD The Celtic mythology and Ireland setting was a big factor in me picking this up, so that’s a bummer that they don’t play a bigger role, though.


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