The Bitterwine Oath
Published December 1, 2020
About Bitterwine Oath
Every fifty years, a cult claims twelve men to murder in a small Texas town. Can one girl end the cycle of violence – and save the boy who broke her heart?
San Solano, Texas, is a quaint town known for its charm, hospitality, and history of murder. Twice now, twelve men have been brutally killed, and no one knows who did it. A shadowy witch? A copycat killer? Or a man-hating murderess?
Eighteen-year-old Natalie Colter is sure that the rumors about her great-great-grandmother’s cult of wronged women are just gossip, but that doesn’t stop the true-crime writers and dark tourism bloggers from capitalizing on the town’s reputation. It’s an urban legend that’s hard to ignore, and it gets harder when Nat learns that the sisterhood is real. And magical. And they want her to join.
The more Nat learns of the Wardens’ supernatural history, the more she wonders about the real culprits behind the town’s ritualistic murders. Are the Wardens protecting San Solano from even darker forces? There are shadows in the woods, bones on the outskirts of town, and questions Nat needs answered.
But everything becomes more urgent when people start getting marked as new victims–including Levi Langford, the boy whose kiss haunted Nat for a year. With Levi in danger, doing nothing would be harder than fighting back.
Nat knows that no one is safe. Can she and the sisterhood stop the true evil from claiming their town?
I went on a bit of a paranormal kick this year, so this is a book I agreed to read while I was kind of in that mindset. I liked the idea of a sisterhood taking on a decades old curse in a small town, and I think the author really delivered on all those concepts.
Nat is a neat character– I liked that she keeps herself a little bit apart from her friends. She has some secrets, just things she isn’t ready to talk about yet. I found that really relatable. I also liked the back and forth between her and Levi. It’s not banter, but I definitely got the sense that they were locked in some kind of emotional thing. Not adversarial, but not exactly friendly either. So that hooked my curiosity right away.
Some elements of the book reminded me a bit of things I loved about THE LUMINARIES. It’s not exactly the same kind of story, but it does have some similarities: an elite team of warriors taking on monsters that the rest of humanity can’t see or know about; a small exclusive town; a complicated friendship-slash-maybe-romance. So all those things were big wins for me, too.
I think readers who enjoyed THE LUMINARIES definitely want to try this one. I am really glad I read it, and will definitely have to check out other things by Hannah West.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Major characters are white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used infrequently.
Kissing between boy and girl.
The curse began when four girls used magic to ask for revenge against men who’d wronged them. The magic revisits the town every fifty years, claiming twelve new victims.
Nat learns that the magic still exists, and that a coven of women use it to fight back against the cursed magic.
Situations of peril. Battle violence. In one scene, a pet is found injured. Several scenes show animal carcasses or bones. Several scenes show creatures made of bones and carcasses attacking people.
References to teens drinking beer.
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