Author Scott Tracey recently announced on social media that he is re-releasing his popular Witch Eyes trilogy.
My reaction to such glorious news:
So in honor of LGBTQ Pride Month, I thought I’d share my review of book one to whet the appetites of the few of you who might be unfamiliar with the excellent series.
A boy who can see the world’s secrets and unravel spells with just a glance.
Braden’s witch eyes give him an enormous power. A mere look causes a kaleidoscopic explosion of emotions, memories, darkness, and magic. But this rare gift is also his biggest curse.
Compelled to learn about his shadowed past and the family he never knew, Braden is drawn to the city of Belle Dam, where he is soon caught between two feuding witch dynasties. Sworn rivals Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe will use anything — lies, manipulation, illusion, and even murder — to seize control of Braden’s powers. To stop an ancient evil from destroying the town, Braden must master his gift, even through the shocking discovery that Jason is his father. While his feelings for an enigmatic boy named Trey grow deeper, Braden realizes a terrible truth: Trey is Catherine Lansing’s son… and Braden may be destined to kill him.
Ladies & gentlemen, it’s a wrap. The gauntlet has been thrown, the bar has been raised, the standard has been set. THIS is how it’s done! I haven’t been this excited about a novel featuring a gay protagonist since Perry Moore’s Hero.
Braden proves to be a strong protagonist. He’s a three-dimensional character. He makes mistakes, he’s fallible, he’s human and sympathetic. And even when he gets himself into trouble, this is still a character you can root for. While there’s angst aplenty, he has more than enough legitimate reasons for said angst (which keeps him sympathetic) and Tracey does an excellent job not allowing said angst to pummel and warp Braden’s characterization and development. Tracey also avoids making him stilted and obnoxious like a lot of writers do with their characters.
Tracey’s description and prose is quite impressive. It didn’t overburden you with filler and purple prose. Between the descriptions and the first person narrative, you could easily place yourself in Belle Dam and easily visualize the town and its inhabitants. The mythos and the plot immediately sucked me in and I was dying to find out what happened next. Many of the characters have secrets and agendas, and you’re eagerly awaiting them to show their hands.
Forgive the vagueness of this review but I’m trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible.
Braden’s orientation was also handled as-a-matter-of-factly, with nuance, with insight and respect. Witch Eyes could’ve easily have worked with Braden being a heterosexual and it was a relief to read a story that wasn’t a formulaic coming out tale or a tragic gay angst tale or Braden being the formulaic gay guy whose sole raison d’entre revolves around his orientation.
What was also a relief was that the romance didn’t overwhelm the story like you see too often in countless YA, gay novels, and urban fantasy books. The romance was one (albeit important) part of the complex and interwoven plot. The romance was well-executed, as was the mystery, the action and the drama. But it was all well-balanced which made the story that much stronger and that much more enjoyable.
And speaking of romance and love interests, Trey’s a dick. Braden is too good for him and can do so much better. I’m down for Team Somebody Else. And that objective analysis has nothing to do with the fact that Trey reminds me of my ex. Nope, not at all.
When it comes to storytelling, Tracey proves that he knows his craft and I found myself having to pace myself with the story because I didn’t want the book to end too soon. There isn’t much resolution at the end but that’s understandable given this is only episode 1 of the three-part saga.
The Witch Eyes series and by extension Tracey give me hope that things are changing. As more marginalized storytellers are given the opportunities to share their voices, we as a whole will receive better narratives and better representation.
The trilogy is available now and I for one can’t recommend it enough.