Witches of London #1 – Lars by Aleksandr Voinov

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Title: Witches of London #1 – Lars
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Publisher: 44 Raccoons
Release Date: August 7, 2016
Genre(s): Paranormal, Fantasy, Occult
Page Count: 235 pages
Reviewed by: Natalie
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Some problems you can’t solve with magick—and some you can.

After a homophobic pagan group rejected him, Lars Kendall is a solitary heathen on the Northern Path, loyal to the gods of the Norse pantheon. But being on his own sucks. So when he finally meets a mixed group of other queer witches and magick-users, it’s like finding family. If family involved exploring past lives and casting spells.

Rhys Turner quit a stressful job in the City after his high-strung boyfriend of six years walked out. He sold the expensive flat in central London and bought a run-down house out in the suburbs. Never mind that it needs walls knocked down, its garden landscaped, and what the hell is up with that carpet?

With his health failing, Rhys is desperate for a clean slate and a new start. He isn’t ready to fall in love with anybody, least of all the hunky builder who looks like he’s stepped out of a TV show about Vikings—tattoos, long hair, and all. But as strong and loyal as Lars is, he also has a very soft heart, which might be the hardest thing for Rhys to resist.

I absolutely adore Aleksandr Voinov’s writing. The Dark Soul Collection is one of my favorite books, and I also love the co-written Market Garden series Mr. Voinvov has with L.A. Witt so yes, I am a huge fan. I’ve read a few of his books, and I’m quite accustomed to his writing style. It’s smooth and engaging.

Witches is no different. At first, I was drawn in by the beautiful cover. I read the blurb and thought, how incredibly outrageous for a book plot but I was in! We meet Lars Kendall a witch who is trying to find his proper place within a coven. He thought he found a good group, but it turns out the leader was not only racist but homophobic as well. Lars was asked to leave. He ends up meeting a woman, Amanda, who responds to his profile on Meetup. She invites him to meet a group of queer pagans in London, and the rest is history. This seems to be one major plot point, Lars trying to find his place in a group that accepts his magical practices for what they are and doesn’t judge him based on his sexual orientation.

Lars is also a construction worker/contractor. Well, he’s a self-employed entrepreneur who rebuilds/flips houses. He and his crew usually take a run down home and make it brand spanking new. Lars has quite the reputation for doing this and has built a steady client base. He gets a call from Rhys Turner to do some remodeling on his home, and this is where another subplot takes off.

What I enjoyed about this story is the offbeat subject matter. Paganism, Norse mythology, astrology. There was a lot of information packed tightly into this book but it was written in a manner that was captivating. It definitely kept me turning the pages and as a Scorpio, lol I found reading some of the interpretations of Scorpios hilarious. I liked Lars. He was a cool MC. I also liked Julian a great deal. I’m curious to know more about his story. Hoping that we get more insight because he sounds like a whirlwind of adventure!

What I didn’t I enjoy about Witches? It becomes a bit depressing. You kind of get a sense from the blurb that it won’t be sunshine and rainbows but at times, it was difficult for me to continue to power through. The book also seems to slow to a halt at 70%. I guess I had been anticipating some other conflict to add to the story being told, but it was sort of anti-climatic in that regard. With all that was happening, I guess I was anticipating some paranormal pushback to occur. I’m also not sure how I felt about Rhys. Initially, I enjoyed him but then I found myself not really connecting to him. Perhaps it was disenchantment with his behavior. Also, the HFN seemed accelerated at least for me.

Overall, this book was unlike anything I’ve ever read. It was offbeat in the best way possible. If you’re looking for something original and unconventional, I’d give it a whirl, but if you’re expecting hot and heavy romance, this isn’t the book for you. I’m not sure if I would even classify it as a romance. There are romantic elements, but it’s not the driving force of the story. I have to commend Mr. Voinov for writing what speaks to him. So many authors are very cautious of writing out of the ordinary stories because they fear they may lose their core base. This wasn’t a book I’d grab because it isn’t my go-to genre but I’m glad I read it. It was a fun ride.

My rating? For me, Witches of London #1 – Lars gets 3.5 stars.

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A copy of Witches of London #1 – Lars was purchased by this reviewer.

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