Many thanks to NetGalley, BookBuzz and The Wild Rose Press, Inc. for providing me with an e-book in exchange for my honest review. The Witches of Vegas is a YA urban fantasy book, but I think it would be better classified as Adult horror. There are some torture scenes which are especially gory and not exactly my preference in fiction. I understand that those scenes were written out to show how bad the villain really is, but I do think that because of the amount of gore and torture present the book would benefit from a change in genre just so readers aren’t misled in thinking this is a fun YA fantasy when it’s actually very dark.
I also think it should be reclassified as an adult book because even though the main character and her love interest are teenagers, there are also many chapters told from the point of view of an adult vampire. These are actually the chapters that overall resonate with the tone and ambience of the book—more so than the chapters told from the point of view of the teenagers. Also, while the premise of this book caught my attention right away, I struggled to connect with the main characters. Isis, a 15-year old witch, is supposed to be very powerful but she ends up being a damsel in distress throughout basically the entire book and ends up being rescued by several different male figures.
I like characters to have agency, especially female characters, but despite this, I am not against seeing the damsel in distress trope in fiction every once in a while, especially if it serves some bigger purpose in the story. But in this particular case, if Isis is basically going to end up being a damsel in distress, then I really could have done without all of the references of her being a super powerful witch, because that’s not what I actually saw on the page. What I saw was a girl struggling to control her growing witch powers, which is fine and realistic, but I didn’t see a super powerful witch, so less references to her being a powerful witch would have made her character more understandable and even relatable.
I did struggle to understand Isis and connect with her or see her as anything beyond an innocent, sort of afraid young girl. Zack, her love interest, I understood better and he did seem more realistic and three-dimensional to me than Isis did. I had some issues with the magic system too in the sense that it seemed to me like it contradicted itself. One example of this is when a spell is cast over a burial site that is supposed to last forever to protect said burial site, but then in a later scene one of the characters says that the spell only works if one of the witches is nearby, which contradicts what was stated earlier about the spell (that it lasts forever). Overall, I think that more character development, streamlined magic system, and less gore would have served this story better.