Book Review: The Skinwalker’s Apprentice by Claribel Ortega

the skinwalkers apprenticeSynopsis:

“Welcome to The Empire State, where banshees, witches, and skinwalkers wait…”

Margo Pennyfeather is being hunted. The 16-year-old witch has always been an outcast, in her home back in England, and now in the village of East Hampton New York where her family has settled. No one but her family has ever cared for Margo, but now the most important witch in the magic world wants her as an apprentice, giving her a chance to bring her family out of poverty.
Before long, Margo realizes things aren’t what they seem, least of all, what kind of witch she really is. Now, the young witch must face a terrifying monster on her own, and the reverberations will reach farther than she could have ever imagined.

More than three hundred years later, in 1984 Emerald Kipp is a high school senior in New York City. A troubled teen with a rebellious streak, Emerald can’t seem to figure out what to do with her life, and unfortunately for her, “witch” isn’t one of the available career choices in her guidance counselor’s office. As she struggles to figure herself out, Emerald is faced with the threat of being stuck in school and missing her final summer with her three best friends. Her last year of high school is turning out to be the worst yet, and Emerald thinks it can’t possibly get any worse. Unfortunately for her, she’s dead wrong.
And there’s something else, something far more sinister stirring in Emerald’s world, and she’ll have to believe in herself if she wants to get through it alive.

Two witches, three hundred years apart, one inescapable fate.

The Skinwalker’s Apprentice is a prequel to the upcoming novel, Emerald Kipp and The Riddle of The Timekeeper, a terrifying magical scavenger hunt through the gritty streets of 1980’s New York City,set to a killer soundtrack, and perfect for fans of Harry Potter and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Part of The Empire Witches series.

About the Author:claribel ortega

Claribel Ortega is a graduate of the SUNY Purchase journalism program, and got her start writing for the school’s Independent Newspaper. There, she quickly rose the ranks from editing the student’s often times hilarious ads and ramblings on the back page of the paper to staff and feature writer.
After graduation, Claribel worked as a reporter for The Rivertowns Enterprise, a local paper in lower Westchester County, New York. As a reporter, she enjoyed going to board of education meetings and texting the town mayors about the line at Starbucks.
Today, Claribel works for The Combined Book Exhibit, a book marketing company in Westchester NY.
She lives in New York with her really awesome boyfriend, her suspiciously intelligent yorkie Pancho Villa and is surrounded by an impenetrable fort of books she gets from her job.

“The Skinwalker’s Apprentice” is her first book, and cheese is her favorite food.

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My Review:

I really must read more about these books before I start them! Halfway through I realised that this is in fact a prequel to a book series that has not yet come out. Usually prequels appear later in a series due to fan demand – they want to know more about the characters and crave more details and history to sate their hunger. And this is great, but only once the characters have been fully introduced in a proper novel setting. By reading the prequel first, I felt a little non-committed to the characters, why? –  because its only an introduction. I’m not sure how helpful a tool this book will be for promoting the series in general. Readers tend to judge an author by their first book and this one gives us interesting characters, but sadly little plot.

From a writer’s perspective, I liked the two time zones, it separated each of the main character’s parts nicely and there was clearly a lot of research into both time periods. I especially liked one being set in the 1980s, although not an era anyone would like to really live in again (I mean the shoulder pads alone!) but it was really quite nostalgic.

The front cover is a bit of a let down. It’s kind of cartoonish and doesn’t do the writing justice. YA is such a competitive genre and the front cover is what sells it – personally I’d change it to something more like Rachel Harris’ ‘A Tale of Two Centuries’ and have both eras and characters clearly on the front.

Overall I’d give The Skinwalker’s Apprentice 3 out of 5 stars – I’m interested to see the series that it preludes – just think that it shouldn’t have come out first.

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