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Burn the Dark by S. A. Hunt

I have two issues with Burn the Dark that prevented me from wholeheartedly loving it. The first is that it feels like S. A. Hunt took the story and arbitrarily cut it in half so that there would be a sequel. An abrupt ending is one thing, but the lack of answers to any questions irks me. Even the first book in a series deserves some answers. As for the ending, it does not even qualify as a cliffhanger. To me, it feels as if the author and editors decided that this paragraph would be a good spot to end the book, and so they did. There is no natural denouement, nor is there a climax. From a structural perspective, the entire novel is one big introduction.

The other issue I have with Burn the Dark is the fact that I don’t know if I buy into witches as baddies. Hunt never fully explains why they are evil, other than some weird shit about them draining the positive life force of the area in which they live. Readers do not get an explanation of what powers and their limitations witches have. We don’t even get an explanation for what happened to Robin’s mother. We receive many inferences but no hard facts. Given that we find out one of Robin’s assumptions is incorrect, it stands to reason that we are missing key facts about her mother’s death. This worries me as this is the impetus for the entire story.

In spite of those issues, the story is interesting. Described as a Sabrina and Stranger Things mash-up, it has a buddy story feel to it with all the darkness of both series. There is a small group of young kids and a small group of adults who are the only ones who know who understands the threat the witches bring. The characters are fun even if superficial. The story moves quickly and is engaging enough to keep you reading. I don’t know if I enjoyed it enough to read the sequel, but this first book served the purpose of distraction and entertainment.

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