Francesca Flores is an author who I believe to be severely underrated. I first came across her when I received a Netgalley ARC of her debut Diamond City, a story about a bad ass assassin named Aina Solis. That book and its sequel Shadow City stole my heart and really made me fall in love with Francesca Flores’ writing.
So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out that she was writing a third book. With the release date being announced as March 21, 2023, I had the honor of receiving an early ARC to read and review.
The Witch and The Vampire is a sapphic Rapunzel retelling/reimagining. In this story, our Rapunzel (named Ava) is a vampire with root Witch abilities who is trapped in a tower by her mother. Her ex best friend Kaye is a Root Witch hell bent on finding out what vampire killed her mother and exacting revenge. As a Root Witch, Kaye also has a duty to prevent vampires from breaching the barrier wall surrounding her village.
She and Ava cross paths once again, and Kaye finds out that Ava is a vampire. On the night that Ava manages to escape her tower, Kaye follows her and convinces her to travel together into the forest, while secretly planning to turn her in. Ava agrees, with the hope of rekindling the friendship (and maybe the potential romance) between them from the past.
As they travel, they realize the forest is dying and trying to attack them. They must learn to trust one another while making this treacherous journey. But can they?
What I really enjoyed the most about this book was the atmosphere. I really felt the forest come alive and could almost see the decay and rot permeating throughout. There was always tension on every page, between our main characters and their distrust for one another, and the enemies they kept encountering.
Every element and plot point of this story felt crucial to both Kaye and Ava. the different internal battles they fought, and the comparisons that were made between mortals and vampires was so interesting and complex.
To me both Ava and Kaye felt really fleshed out and their behavior towards one another felt wholly realistic. I was rooting for both throughout the entire book and couldn’t wait to see how their story progressed.
Another thing that was well done in this book was the yearning. If you are looking for a passionate fantasy romance where things get hot and heavy, I wouldn’t recommend this book. Instead, there was so much delicious secret longing between both characters that had me on the edge of my seat. ever subtle brushing of the hands, every observation Ava and Kaye would make about the other, every poetic line the they thought about one another had me absolutely feral. it just made their relationship that much more believable and I wanted nothing more than for them to finally be together.
I’m not sure if there are plans for a second book, because this did end satisfyingly as a stand alone. However, I definitely would not be opposed to a sequel, because i feel there is a lot of potential for Kaye and Ava’s story.
Overall, if you are the type of reader who is looking for a sapphic fantasy that is light on romance but heavy on action and yearning, I would highly suggest you pick this up. As for me, the Witch and Vampire has solidified Francesca Flores as one of my top authors, and I can’t wait for her next book.