STARRED REVIEW
May 2021

Witches Steeped in Gold

By Ciannon Smart
Review by

Jazmyne Cariot's queen mother, Judair, rules with an iron fist, but even as Jazmyne joins a rebellion that's planning the queen's assassination, she fears that she isn't prepared to lead after her mother's death.

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Jazmyne Cariot's queen mother, Judair, rules with an iron fist, but even as Jazmyne joins a rebellion that's planning the queen's assassination, she fears that she isn't prepared to lead after her mother's death. Far away in a heavily guarded prison, Iraya plots an uprising with her fellow cellmates, then uses their escape to move toward her true goal: revenge on the royal family. When these two witches from warring clans discover they share a target, they must form an unprecedented alliance. By combining their power, they’re sure to succeed—if they don’t destroy each other first.

Ciannon Smart’s debut YA novel, Witches Steeped in Gold, is a thrilling story that unfolds against a vivid island backdrop inspired by Jamaican culture, history and folklore. Smart plunges readers into a sprawling world of fantasy and mystery that’s dripping with political intrigue, lore stretching back generations and a fully realized magic system.

Chapters that alternate between Jazmyne and Iraya offer two strikingly different perspectives on the action, yet each girl’s distinct voice rings clear. Jazmyne is thoughtful, deliberate and cautious, while Iraya is spirited, passionate and impetuous.

As the plot progresses, Smart offers an honest, character-driven exploration of the relationship between the personal and the political. Jazmyne and Iraya were both born into the roles they must eventually inhabit, willingly or not. Smart highlights not only their personal motivations, hesitations and emotions but also the broader societal consequences of their choices—to kill, to save, to ally, to betray. Ultimately, the narrative blurs the line between good and evil, and readers will likely find themselves rooting for different characters throughout the book.

Full of twists and turns, Witches Steeped in Gold is a complex and powerful read featuring two heroines who are unafraid to venture into the unexpected.

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Witches Steeped in Gold

Witches Steeped in Gold

By Ciannon Smart
HarperTeen
ISBN 9780062945983

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