The Witch and the Vampire Book Cover The Witch and the Vampire
Francesca Flores
Teen Romance
Wednesday Books (March 21, 2023)

Francesca Flores's The Witch and the Vampire is a queer Rapunzel retelling where a witch and a vampire who trust no one but themselves must journey together through a cursed forest with danger at every turn.

Ava and Kaye used to be best friends. Until one night two years ago, vampires broke through the magical barrier protecting their town, and in the ensuing attack, Kaye’s mother was killed, and Ava was turned into a vampire. Since then, Ava has been trapped in her house. Her mother Eugenia needs her: Ava still has her witch powers, and Eugenia must take them in order to hide that she's a vampire as well. Desperate to escape her confinement and stop her mother's plans to destroy the town, Ava must break out, flee to the forest, and seek help from the vampires who live there. When there is another attack, she sees her opportunity and escapes.

Kaye, now at the end of her training as a Flame witch, is ready to fulfill her duty of killing any vampires that threaten the town, including Ava. On the night that Ava escapes, Kaye follows her and convinces her to travel together into the forest, while secretly planning to turn her in. Ava agrees, hoping to rekindle their old friendship, and the romantic feelings she'd started to have for Kaye before that terrible night.

But with monstrous trees that devour humans whole, vampires who attack from above, and Ava’s stepfather tracking her, the woods are full of danger. As they travel deeper into the forest, Kaye questions everything she thought she knew. The two are each other's greatest threat―and also their only hope, if they want to make it through the forest unscathed.

Did you see that gorgeous cover art?

The cover definitely grabbed me. There’s an implied darkness behind the loving embrace of two hands. I felt like this was going to be another intricate fantasy world with a steamy romance. I didn’t exactly receive what I’d hoped for in The Witch and The Vampire.

More character development was needed at the early stages of the book.

We met Ava, a vampire, in her Rapunzel-esque tower that she’s been trapped in by her own mother. Her mother is using Ava for the magic she still has from before she was turned to a vampire. Also keeping her prisoner is a vile human male living with her mother. This had a very interesting start. We sympathize greatly with Ava, and we’re rooting for her. When she does inevitably get out of the tower I expected the “great adventure”, but it fell flat for me after her escape.

Ava has a few close calls with her life before she crosses paths with her old friend, Kaye. Kaye is still a witch and hates Ava. She’s waited two years to finally come face to face with Ava. There’s a strong hatred there, and it’s clear on Kaye’s face when they see each other. Yet, the almost immediately make a pact to travel together. How does that work? I felt like I blinked, and then Ava trusted Kaye with her safety. Witches in this world are trained to kill vampires on sight. Ava knew this, and Kaye never really hid her hatred of the new Ava.

The trust building between them was rushed and relied heavily on what they used to be together. Kaye and Ava go into their heads for a few paragraphs remembering braiding each other’s hair, or just spending time together. Those short memories weren’t enough to make me care about either character, nor their friendship. It was just a little too rushed and not engaging.

This book has a great plot overall, it just needed a little more deep diving into character relationships before their big encounter and ultimate adventure together.