Review: This Coven Won’t Break by Isabel Sterling

In this gripping, romantic sequel to These Witches Don’t Burn, Hannah must work alongside her new girlfriend to take down the Hunters desperate to steal her magic.

Hannah Walsh just wants a normal life. It’s her senior year, so she should be focusing on classes, hanging out with her best friend, and flirting with her new girlfriend, Morgan. But it turns out surviving a murderous Witch Hunter doesn’t exactly qualify as a summer vacation, and now the rest of the Hunters seem more intent on destroying her magic than ever.

When Hannah learns the Hunters have gone nationwide, armed with a serum capable of taking out entire covens at once, she’s desperate to help. Now, with witches across the country losing the most important thing they have—their power—Hannah could be their best shot at finally defeating the Hunters. After all, she’s one of the only witches to escape a Hunter with her magic intact.

Or so everyone believes. Because as good as she is at faking it, doing even the smallest bit of magic leaves her in agony. The only person who can bring her comfort, who can make her power flourish, is Morgan. But Morgan’s magic is on the line, too, and if Hannah can’t figure out how to save her—and the rest of the Witches—she’ll lose everything she’s ever known. And as the Hunters get dangerously close to their final target, will all the Witches in Salem be enough to stop an enemy determined to destroy magic for good?


What is This Coven Won’t Break about?

The follow up to These Witches Don’t Burn, this book picks up towards the end of Hannah’s tumultuous summer. School looms ahead, and though Hannah has the support of her new girlfriend, the trauma of the past few months is still weighing heavy. When given the opportunity to fight back against the witch hunters responsible for the death of her father, near death of her best friend, and temporary loss of her powers, Hannah jumps for it. But she’s discovered her powers are still dampened by the trauma of her encounter with the witch hunters, and old enemies are involved…

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

There’s some expanded world building to suit the new characters and nature of the story, but this book remains as firmly rooted in urban fantasy as the first in the duology.

Tropes: Escalation and Conspiracy

The stakes in the previous novel gained surprising height, but are completely blown out of the water by the escalation in this book. Every moment adds a new level of threat and builds a greater conspiracy amongst the witches and witch hunters. To be honest, I’m surprised it was all wrapped up in a single book.

Plot: Witches Hunt Back

his book is very much concerned with the witch Clans taking back their power and going after the hunters, intent on stopping them from spreading their “cure.”

The Good

I really found myself loving Hannah and Morgan together. I appreciated Morgan’s family, and how comfortable Hannah finds herself feeling around them. There’s a stark difference from the way Hannah describes being around Gemma’s family and Morgan’s, and I think it’s really great that there was a positive LGBTQ+ adult presence in Hannah’s life finally. I also appreciated that their relationship feels well paced, loving, and healthy. Definitely a good example of Sapphic representation. I liked that we finally learn more about how the magic of the other Clans works. Learning that Casters have different “languages” and are magically connected to what they make, a connection they lose if their powers are cut off, was excellent world building. I also liked the way the Clans start working together, and how easy it was to notice the distinct boost to all three types of witch when they combined their powers.

The Okay

I don’t wholly buy that the witches as a whole had so little idea of where the witch hunters were at, organization wise. I get that both are secretive and both would take great pains to ensure neither knew of the other, but… With how paranoid the witches can be about others knowing their secrets, I can’t imagine hunters would have been operating on such a scale without them knowing. The novel emphasizes that only about a hundred or so hunters work in the country, operating out of regions, but then they also have enough sophistication to have a pretty solid headquarters and they send out teenagers on missions. There have to have been blunders before that would clue at least local clans into the presence of potential hunters. I don’t buy it that they were just underground.

The Bad

I found the plot twist towards the end…meh. As I mentioned in the above section, I just don’t buy it that the hunters were so unknown to witches in general. Clearly the Elders of the clans had some inkling of their presence, but had they known how organized the hunters were I’m sure they would have done a better job of preparing the witches in their care. Additionally, the plot twist was one that falls into a handful of tropes I’m not a big fan of. I don’t know, I just didn’t believe it and didn’t care for it.

Final Thoughts

I found this book an excellent follow up in the duology. It expands the world of witches and magic, and witch hunters, and follows through on relationships that began in the first book. In terms of wrapping things up while still leaving room for the characters to grow, it fulfills the role of a sequel well. That being said, I didn’t care for the plot twist. I didn’t believe the lack of knowledge about the hunters. And a lot of the meat of the plot moved far too quickly and had too many factors at play. Dramatic twists that played on specific mistakes or fears of Hannah’s were a little too contrived; most people in this game of witches and hunters aren’t going to care about one girl. Still a solid and enjoyable read, and I adored Morgan and Hannah’s relationship as it grew. I also liked Alice’s inclusion in the story, I thought she gave it some much needed edge.

By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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