I first found out about Witcheskin by Nem Rowan through instagram, and was intrigued by the snippets I learned about the book there. A supernatural mystery including an m/m romance with a trans lead? And it’s ownvoices? The title has ‘witch’ in it? Set in Wales? When the author approached me with an eARC, I couldn’t say no! I’m glad to say I wasn’t disappointed.
Goodreads synopsis: Following the disappearance of his father, Owen returns to the Welsh village where he was raised to live with his mother and her boyfriend.
While pursuing the mystery of cattle mutilations in the area, he meets Maredudd, an old friend of his mother’s, and learns something about his parents that they’ve never told him…
Content warnings: gore, animal death, transmisia & deadnaming (addressed), sex (not explicit)
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Witcheskin starts with a graphic description of an animal carcass in the summer heat. If you’re unsure about gore, like me, you’ll know pretty much what you’re in for from the start of the first chapter, which I appreciated. The way this scene was written pulled me into the story immediately – the descriptions were that good. I felt like I was the main character, before even knowing what he looked like or what his name was.
After this, the mystery of the animal mutilations unfolds slowly, with other mysteries surrounding Owen’s parents and newcomer Maredudd coming into play as well. Meanwhile, a romance blooms between Owen and Maredudd, which I found very well written. Again, I felt like I was in Owen’s head, falling in love with Maredudd just as he did. I hadn’t expected the romance to be as big a part in the story as it was, but that didn’t bother me. The romance and the mystery took on equally important parts, and I liked both.
The story takes place in a small village in Wales, and it did a great job of showing the way small communities like these interact and what it’s like to be an outsider in them. I also loved the way the setting was described – the fields, the forest, the village, and the ocean. I really felt like I was there. It made me want to go back to Wales! (Preferably without the supernatural creature slaughtering cattle, of course.)
There were various twists and turns throughout the story, some of which I saw coming, some of which surprised me. I’d figured quite a lot out by the end – not like ‘aw, none of the plot twists surprised me’, but more like ‘my ridiculous theories are actually true!’ which is always fun. I did find the motivations of the main antagonist were not entirely clear to me by the end – it was all explained rather quickly.
All in all Witcheskin was a thrilling read with characters I loved and a fearsome monster shrouded in mystery.