Series Review: The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull

This is a review for The Hawkweed Series as it currently stands, with two books released. Based on the ending of the second book, there’s potential for more stories in this world!

The Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull (Hawkweed Prophecy #1)

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Publisher: Weinstein Books on June 16, 2016

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Poppy Hooper and Ember Hawkweed couldn’t lead more different lives.

Irena Brignull’s debut novel THE HAWKWEED PROPHECY is a lyrical, poignant novel that examines what it means to belong, to have power, and to be a woman.

Poppy Hooper and Ember Hawkweed have never fit in with their families or their communities, forever dogged by a feeling of inadequacy and freakishness that they can’t seem to shake. Ember can’t perform magic like her coven sisters can, while Poppy’s own mother is convinced she’s a changeling child.  When these two seemingly dissimilar girls meet, it sets them both on a course that will change their lives forever. A course that was charted more than a hundred years ago…

Brignull combines the ancient practices of witchcraft with the adjacent yet far-removed realities of modern British to create a tantalizing world, although it’s admittedly sparse on the actual magical details. Through Poppy’s eyes, we see that the harsh and precarious world of the witches is also one filled with beauty and communal life; through Ember’s, we see the miracles – and the oddities – of contemporary life with all of its glamourous trappings and scientific progress. I would’ve loved to peek behind the curtain (or caravan, as it were) of coven life even more, and I hope the world building will be expanded upon in the sequel.

The major weakness of THE HAWKWEED PROPHECY is its uneven pacing. More than 50 pages will go by with nothing of consequence happening, and then the most important events in the whole story play out in only a handful of paragraphs. I was also disappointed by the romance, which felt rushed…and a bit ridiculous, given that it becomes a “love square” at one point.

 

The Hawkweed Legacy by Irena Brignull (Hawkweed Prophecy #2)

Genre: Fantasy, YA

Publisher: Weinstein Books on August 15, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

Poppy is discovering a purpose for her powers in Africa, but she is haunted by a vision of her own death.

THE HAWKWEED LEGACY picks up right where its predecessor left off, with both Ember and Poppy aware of their respective lineages and reunited with their biological families. But not all those reunions are equally happy, and much of the story is spent exploring what it means to be coven, clan, or family. Poppy, Ember, and Leo alike all have to reconcile what their gifts – or lack thereof – mean for them and those they choose to call their own.

Brignull does an exceptional job developing this emotional core of the series, and I think readers looking for a poignant story about belonging will find this a rewarding reading experience. I particularly enjoyed learning more about Leo, a boy who’s spent much of his life on the streets until he meets Poppy and Ember. Unfortunately, not all of these emotional moments landed and one in particular left me feeling cold. A central character is raped and the way it’s handled made it seem like a convenient plot device, especially since it receives so little page time. Those who find mentions of sexual assault triggering may want to avoid this book.

The world building that I found so intriguing in the first book still plays a prominent role, and the world itself is expanded upon as Poppy travels to a distant land. While we do see new magics and customs there, I once again felt that they should’ve been more fully explained. I want to know more about the “how” of it all!

Overall, THE HAWKWEED LEGACY is a beautifully written novel about magic and the ties that bind; while it does falter significantly in a few places, it’s still a good story. If you like lyrical and slow-moving stories about witches, romance, and fate, the Hawkweed Prophecy series may be for you!

Have you read any beautifully written YA stories lately? How do you feel about semi-explained magical systems? Let me know in the comments!

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