Witherward by Hannah Mathewson Book review

I picked up Witherward by Hannah Mathewson when I saw the amazing cover showing London below  London on a table full of fantasy books for adults in my local bookshop. This YA fantasy was an enjoyable, but predictable book.

Series Book 1 Witherward

Book 2 Wayward (review)

Genre YA fantasy


Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, has to be one of my all-time favourite books-  a perfect fantasy of a  London down below, with interesting characters and lots of humour which has now left me buying books that shows any premise of a city hidden with a city. Witherward, a YA fantasy, where there is a hidden London not quite like ours with its own season and political factions and, of course, magic.

Ilsa Ravenwood, a magician’s assistant, in our London with the ability to shapeshift is struggling to get by while hiding her abilities. One day, she is dragged through a portal to the Witherward and thrown into the complicated politics of six rival magical factions, her attraction to Elliot, a conflicted teenager, and the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Gideon Ravenswood, the alpha of the changelings. Isla discovers, she too is a  changeling from Witherward, smuggled to the other London when she was a baby to keep her safe when her mother, the ruler of Camden, was murdered and Gideon is her brother.

The good

The book was an easy read- I finished it in two sittings when the weather was perfect for nothing but reading in the sun. The author’s world-building is competent but only really comes alive when Isla leave the Zoo ( the changelings’ palace) and we discover the Witherward with her. The description of the PSI part of London, an underground cavern, made me wish there was an actual place like that to visit and have a slice of cake in one of its teashops. The changelings’ territory outside of the Zoo was vividly described too and one of the best parts of the book. The author’s description of the action and magic only comes to life outside the zoo.

There aren’t many older characters in the book, but the ones who are over 29 are the most interesting and I would have happily read a book based on the life of Aelius, Oren, Alitz and Hester over Isla, Elliot and Gideon.

There is diversity in the book with characters who don’t feel forced into the story.

The bad

The book was predictable. Despite all the plot twists and turns, the story is what you would expect from any YA fantasy featuring a lost heir who has returned to her land. I didn’t warm to Isla and found the way her speech was written annoying after the first few chapters. The romance between the tortured Elliot and Isla was again predictable while her interactions with Captain Fowler had a lot more spark and tension ( perhaps this may have been the author’s intent and that’s great if it was).

The magic system seemed confusing and I couldn’t quite work out what Changelings were. Are they shapeshifters, people who can turn into animals or animals who have turned into people?

The ugly

Trigger warning s- Child abuse, descriptions of slavery and trafficking, physical abuse.

Any cliffhangers

The main plot thread is resolved but the book sets up the story for the rest of the series

Perfect for fans

Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas, Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, anyone who loves YA fantasy featured lost heirs, magic and romance.


3 and a half stars- This wasn’t my kind of book but I imagine many people will love this book.

3 thoughts on “Witherward by Hannah Mathewson Book review

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