Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books
Date of publication: March 21st, 2023
Genre: Fantasy, Lesbian, Young Adult, LGBT, Romance, Retellings, Queer, Vampires, Witches, Paranormal
Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | WorldCat
Trigger Warnings: Blood, death of a parent, animal death, physical abuse, torture, child abuse, vomit, child death, murder
Francesca Flores’s The Witch and the Vampire is a queer Rapunzel retelling where a witch and a vampire who trust no one but themselves must journey together through a cursed forest with danger at every turn.
Ava and Kaye used to be best friends. Until one night two years ago, vampires broke through the magical barrier protecting their town, and in the ensuing attack, Kaye’s mother was killed, and Ava was turned into a vampire. Since then, Ava has been trapped in her house. Her mother Eugenia needs her: Ava still has her witch powers, and Eugenia must take them in order to hide that she’s a vampire as well. Desperate to escape her confinement and stop her mother’s plans to destroy the town, Ava must break out, flee to the forest, and seek help from the vampires who live there. When there is another attack, she sees her opportunity and escapes.
Kaye, now at the end of her training as a Flame witch, is ready to fulfill her duty of killing any vampires that threaten the town, including Ava. On the night that Ava escapes, Kaye follows her and convinces her to travel together into the forest, while secretly planning to turn her in. Ava agrees, hoping to rekindle their old friendship, and the romantic feelings she’d started to have for Kaye before that terrible night.
But with monstrous trees that devour humans whole, vampires who attack from above, and Ava’s stepfather tracking her, the woods are full of danger. As they travel deeper into the forest, Kaye questions everything she thought she knew. The two are each other’s greatest threat—and also their only hope, if they want to make it through the forest unscathed.
I slam the journal shut when a floorboard creaks downstairs, and listen closely for any more movement. Zenos must be awake now, which means he and my mother will come to my attic soon – and I’ll have to play the part of the perfect, obedient daughter.The Witch and the Vampire by Francesca Flores
Ava has been confined to her room in her house for two years. She has unwillingly allowed her mother to steal her magic for two years. For two years, Ava had to hide that she was a vampire and was turned when vampires overran the town and killed her best friend’s mother. When her mother goes away on business and leaves her with her diabolical stepfather, Ava makes a break for the forest surrounding her village. Meanwhile, her best friend, Kaye, is channeling her grief into her Flame witch training. Fire is the only thing vampires are afraid of, and the villagers use it to their advantage, killing them with fire. Seeing Ava for the first time in two years, Kaye realizes she is a vampire. Channeling her rage and grief into capturing Ava, Kaye soon discovers the girl she was best friends with isn’t a heartless beast. Convincing Kaye that her only escape is through the woods, they travel. But they are being tracked by other vampires, vampire hunters, and Ava’s stepfather. Will Ava and Kaye make it through the woods? Will their friendship and budding romance rekindle? What truths will they find during their journey?
I was super pumped when I read the blurb for The Witch and the Vampire. I love fairy tale retellings and will go out of my way to read them. So when I read some reviews for this book and realized that it was a Rapunzel retelling, there was no way I wouldn’t read it. Have you read a good Rapunzel retelling? Well, until this book, neither did I.
Before I get further into the review, I do need to put up a trigger warning paragraph. The Witch and the Vampire do have a few trigger warnings. The trigger warnings are:
Blood (not surprising, this is a vampire story)
Death of a parent (Someone turned Ava’s father into a vampire, captured him, and then murdered him. Kaye’s mother was murdered also. Both are vividly remembered)
Animal death (Ava drank the blood of squirrels and rabbits to sustain herself)
Physical abuse (Ava by her stepfather, and it is graphic)
Torture (Ava by her stepfather during his experiments. Also what the Flame witches do to the vampires to get information. I considered both to be graphic)
Child abuse (Ava by both her mother and her stepfather. Her mother emotionally abused her and turned her into a vampire against her will. Her stepfather physically and verbally abused her when her mother was gone)
Vomit (Kaye threw up a few times but nothing overtly graphic)
Child death (off-page there were several murders of teens in the village and a preteen being used as a sacrifice)
Murder (so much murder)
If any of these triggers you, I suggest not reading this book.
The Witch and the Vampire is a fast-paced book. It took me no time to read because of how fast the plotline was. I enjoyed that!! It is a dual POV 3rd person storyline, which was great because I got to see what was going on in Kaye and Ava’s heads during the book.
The main characters in The Witch and the Vampire broke my heart. They both had suffered so much loss and had their innocence taken from them at an early age. I do wish that there were more flashbacks to when Ava was human. I would have loved to see more of her and Kaye’s interactions.
I liked Ava, and I loved that the author used her as a comparison to Rapunzel. Right from the beginning, I could tell that she was just done with being in the attic, and she was done with being used as a magical sippy cup for her mother. Ava’s main focus was survival for the first half of her storyline. Once she escaped from her house, she knew she had a limited time to get to the woods. Running into and getting captured by Kaye was not part of her plan. Her character growth throughout the book was terrific. I loved seeing her go from a scared child to a woman who wouldn’t be treated like she had been. Of course, the events in the last half of the book helped that along.
I feel bad admitting this, but Kaye annoyed me until almost just past the book’s climax. She refused to believe Ava about anything until it smacked her face (i.e., Ava and herself getting caught). Kaye made decisions based on emotion and not rational thought. She was a powerful witch, though. I also thought that her immediately putting Ava as her mother’s murderer was awful. But, like Ava, her character growth was remarkable. I liked seeing her misconceptions about vampires torn down. I also liked that she changed enough to admit she was wrong. That is when my annoyance with her disappeared, and I started to like her.
The lore in this book was unbelievable. I would have loved for there to have been a glossary with some of the more critical bits of lore added to it. Because I needed help keeping track of everything thrown at me, lore-wise. I also pray that there is book two because I have questions about the other lands mentioned in this one.
Kaye and Ava’s romance was very low-key until almost the end of the book. I liked that they had an adorable moment before everything went berserk. I also loved the flashbacks that showed how close they were friendship-wise and how close they were getting romance-wise. What happened at the very end of the book was an act of love by Ava. That was very clear to me, and Kaye knew it.
The storyline with the vampires, Ava, Kaye, and the journey to leave the woods was well-written and kept my attention. I couldn’t believe how vampires were treated and cringed reading those scenes. I also cringed at how Kaye treated Ava after capturing her. There was a very neat (and heartbreaking) twist to this storyline that I didn’t see coming. It involved Casiopea (the Queen of the Vampires) and how vampires were created. Again, I didn’t see it coming. Ava’s role in this was also a surprise.
The storyline with Ava, Kaye, the Flame witches, and Kaye’s mother’s murder was well-written and heartbreaking. Everything about this storyline was a twist. My heart broke for Kaye several times throughout this storyline. I also was a little mad that she couldn’t get her revenge.
The end of The Witch and the Vampire surprised me. There were deaths that I didn’t see coming and one that made me so angry that I had to put down my Kindle. I liked how the author wrapped up the storylines, and I had a huge smile when a certain someone got their just deserts. I hope the author writes another book in this universe because I would love to know more about what Kaye and Ava will do.
I would recommend The Witch and the Vampire to anyone over 21. There are no sexual situations or language. There is graphic violence. Please also see my trigger warnings.
Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press, Wednesday Books, NetGalley, and Francesca Flores for allowing me to read and review The Witch and the Vampire. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed this review of The Witch and the Vampire, you will enjoy reading these books:
Other books by Francesca Flores: