Book Review: “The Witch King” by H.E. Edgmon

Cover of "The Witch King" by H.E. Edgmon
Cover of “The Witch King” by H.E. Edgmon.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Witch King” by H.E. Edgmon! This is a book I’ve been wanting to read by the end of the year, so I’m glad that I finally have the chance to read and review it! Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

“In Asalin, fae rule and witches like Wyatt Croft…don’t. Wyatt’s betrothal to his best friend, fae prince Emyr North, was supposed to change that. But when Wyatt lost control of his magic one devastating night, he fled to the human world.

Now a coldly distant Emyr has hunted him down. Despite transgender Wyatt’s newfound identity and troubling past, Emyr has no intention of dissolving their engagement. In fact, he claims they must marry now or risk losing the throne. Jaded, Wyatt strikes a deal with the enemy, hoping to escape Asalin forever. But as he gets to know Emyr, Wyatt realizes the boy he once loved may still exist. And as the witches face worsening conditions, he must decide once and for all what’s more important—his people or his freedom.”

Content Warning:

This book contains graphic violence, child abuse, childhood sexual assault, allusions to pedophilia, suicide ideation and mentions of suicide, drug use, mentions of infertility and miscarriage, and some conversations involving misgendering and/or using deadnames. If you are sensitive to any of this content, please skip reading this book or read it carefully. Also, kudos to the author for listing content warnings within the author’s note at the beginning of the book.

Character Development: 1.5 out of 5 stars

When I read the first chapter, I initially wanted Emyr to get killed off and sympathized with Wyatt. After all, Wyatt wants nothing to do with the fae world, doesn’t want to get married. It’s also unfortunate what happened with him in his past prior to the current events of the book. By late in the book, however, I found myself sympathizing with Emyr slightly more and with Wyatt far less due to understanding more of the precarious situation Emyr is in politically.

Wyatt has good reason to be angry about his situation despite all of this. However, I also felt that he didn’t handle it the best way he could. Wyatt was constantly rude to almost everyone possible, and rarely ever learned from his mistakes. However, Emyr wasn’t very well-written either. There were some parts where he was somewhat more sympathetic and likable, but they were overshadowed by the constant conflicts he kept dragging Wyatt into.

I also was confused by Wyatt’s bond with Tessa, his sister. At first, Tessa wanted Wyatt to just roll over and die (she did not exactly say that word for word, I’m just paraphrasing what she said ). However, they’re suddenly making up with each other several chapters later despite having nothing but contempt for each other in between. If there was more development of slow reconciliation, I would be fine with this, but there wasn’t. The lack of individual character development and relationship development was unimpressive.

I also felt that Briar and Wyatt, despite them supposed to be amicable exes, showed off a tumultuous relationship with each other rather than supportive. Relationships can be messy, but this relationship was borderline toxic. Wyatt claims that he and Briar know each other well enough to be near-telepathic, but the reality is that they’re not that close.

Romance Development: 1 out of 5 stars

The romance was doomed to fail from the beginning of the book. The book starts with Emyr literally forcing Wyatt to come back home with him to get married, even though Wyatt doesn’t want to. It also doesn’t help that Wyatt is constantly rude to Emyr himself up until the last fifth of the book. Both of them do try to make things up to each other but that reconciliation is executed poorly. Also, it literally takes up until the last three chapters to reveal that due to Emyr’s (temporary) death after he terminated the contract binding them to be married, Wyatt is free to go on his merry way.

Was there really no other way to amend this last part? It was established at the beginning of the book that terminating a contract equals death. Considering that plot point, I understand that Emyr might have no choice but to (temporarily) accept death. If that was the case, why didn’t he try doing that exact action earlier in the book? He knew already that Wyatt didn’t want to marry him in the first place.

Did he wait until later in the book because he was still so deeply determined to marry Wyatt no matter how bad their relationship was at the time? Or was it because he was busy trying to find a loophole (which I hope was what was going on)? Considering that Emyr is the literal fae prince and highly educated with all matters of the kingdom and its magic, surely he would at least try to find a loophole.

Plot Development: 2 out of 5 stars

The plot made sense in the first half but started making less sense in the second half. This is partially due to the worldbuilding it introduced as well as more of the badly executed romance. The other reason I think the second half made less sense was that there were too many plotlines that happened at once during the second half of the book; the reveal of Briar being half-witch, the anti-fae/pro-witch protests, etc. I think these plotlines could be well-executed, but they felt mostly thrown in for the sake of drama.

One of the main conflicts, the rivalry between Emyr and Derek, never felt like it was given enough attention throughout the whole book. Wyatt barely took part in that section of the main plot (save for a few conversations between Wyatt and Emyr where Wyatt tries to persuade Emyr to just run off with him and let Derek be king).

Worldbuilding Development: 1 out of 5 stars

The worldbuilding was very strange to me as a reader and did not make a lot of sense overall. I understand the author was aiming for a mix of the fae’s world with the modern human world. However, the mixture of both worlds did not fuse together as well as hoped for. It would make more sense if the book was marketed in the urban fantasy subgenre. However, the book wasn’t advertised as such to my knowledge, prior to reading it. The book also delivered themes of discrimination (humans vs. fae, witches vs. fae, etc.) that felt shoved into the narrative for the sake of sounding relevant. Additionally, the terminology they used for pronouns in the fae world seemed more confusing than clarifying.

The use of technology in this world is also strange and does not fit well with the rest of the story.The human world seems so combined with the fae world that both worlds barely have any distinct differences. Also, the fact that a literal app temporarily killed Emyr didn’t work well with the overall setting. That part would make more sense for a sci-fi or cyberpunk novel.

Overall, I’m rating this book 1.5 out of 5 stars!

I think this book could have been awesome to read. There were some decent plot points and concepts. Additionally, the author does a great job of having the reader initially sympathize with the main characters. However, the confusing worldbuilding, horribly executed romance, lack of character development and uneven plot pacing let me down as a reader.

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