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Book Review-Heartless Hunter

A steamy game of cat and mouse between witch and witch-hunter played out against a backdrop of opulence, secrets, and bloody history. On the night Rune’s life changed forever, blood ran in the streets. Now, in the aftermath of a devastating revolution, witches have been diminished from powerful rulers to outcasts ruthlessly hunted due to their waning magic, and Rune must hide what she is. Goodreads- 2024

By ShinyPublished 3 months ago 12 min read
Goodreads 2024

About the Author

Kristen Ciccarelli is a lover of the arts. She’s been a baker, potter, among other things after she decided college just wasn’t for her. She’s the author of the Iskari series, “The Last Namsara” and “Edgewood”.

Book Genres

Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Witches, YA Fantasy, Magic

Book Format

So I have the Owlcrate Edition and it’s a beautiful book. It has Emerald Green sprayed edges, it has a light green ribbon bookmark, a reversible dust jacket with artwork inside and out, plus the endpapers, again, feature really beautiful artwork. This edition also has bonus content at the end of the book, is signed by the author and has an Author letter bound into the book.

The case of this book is absolutely beautiful, the gold foiling on the case which is emerald green and reads “You can’t renounce your own heart” on the front and the back reads, “I’m afraid you’ll be the end of me” absolutely stunning.

Even though I didn’t care much for the book, I’ll still be keeping this beauty in my book collection just because of how stunning it is. Again, Owlcrate really puts time and effort into making these books just look stunning.

Shout Out to the artists who helped make this book as beautiful as it is!

This book has a redesigned dust jacket with art by @vera.drmanovski

A reversible Dust jacket with art on the inside by @nir4z

Foiled Hardcover case by @forensicsandflowers

Foiled End Pages by @offthehookstudio

Fable Book Club

If you enjoy reading books, commenting, sharing your opinions, and talking about the story you're currently reading, check out Fable. It's a great Book Club app that lets you join clubs, read books, and share! There are tons of clubs, so there's something for everyone no matter your preferences in Book genres.

I read the Owlcrate Monthly Book Box Book, so if you get that too you can join in! We also read other books as well, right now I'm reading "A Court of Thorns and Roses" the in-between books will be ones that are interesting or I think might be fun to read. : )

Check out Fable HERE and check out my club THE BOOKISH FAE!

The Story

Rune has lived with her grandmother since she was a small child. Right out of the gate, we don’t know anything about her family, except that Nan, took her in. We get this description of a wild, passionate child who loved a lot of things. Rune lives in a world governed by witches and apparently, things aren’t going so well. The people living under the witch rule are starting to get tired of being treated poorly and rightly so. In the beginning of the book, it isn’t made completely clear, but later you understand that these “Sister Queen” witches were abusing their power and had become pretty tyrannical. We’ll come back to that point.

Anyway, the people who aren’t witches get tired of being treated/governed by witches, and remember this is all from Rune’s knowledge of the event. So, the people decide to dethrone them. They plot, scheme, and plan until the day they carry it out. All three sister queens were murdered, but it didn’t stop there. The people decided to “purge” the remaining witches and any witch sympathizers. To say they took this to an extreme is an understatement. They imprison, torture, and finally string these witches upside down like pigs to slaughter and then bleed them dry.

I kind of wish there had been more lore behind why they decided to kill the witches in this way. I mean, from the get-go we know that witches need blood to perform spells. Fresh blood is always better, but stolen blood can corrupt a witch. So I wish there had been some more insight into the choices made, but this is Book 1# so maybe more detail will be present in Book 2#.

To avoid being outed as a witch sympathizer, Nan convinces Rune to turn her in. She’s then forced to watch them purge her grandmother and, even worse, she has to act like it doesn’t bother her. This is all in the hopes and promises of better living conditions.

So, it’s now been a few years I think, and conditions are not better; in fact they are about the same. So, basically nothing has changed. Worse than that, the New Republic as they are called, has turned to raids, and random searches all in the hopes of catching one witch who is rescuing other witches. Turns out its Rune.

Turns out this "New Republic" isn't actually a republic at all. It seems like this Nicolas Creed decided to take the witches out with a handful of people and then he placed himself in the leadership role. A Republic allows the people to vote for the leader and the measures to be taken. However, these people just make decisions and then force them on others. Sorry, but thats not a republic.

Something I didn’t understand and still don’t is why Rune is risking her life to save witches when all her Nan wanted was for her to live. She could have escaped to a different country and not been persecuted at all for being a witch. The republic sees her kind of as their “darling” since she was the first to turn her grandmother in I guess? So now, Rune goes to parties and maintains this shallow, airhead persona that is completely different from her own.

My first pet peeve is this…. Alex her best friend LOVES her. It’s pretty clear from the beginning. He’s sweet, kind, and understanding. They are far more close than friends. YET, Rune almost always ignores him and his concerns and just pushes him to the side to fulfill her own agenda. It might be one reason I didn’t care much for this book, I don’t like it when a male/female uses another and then basically stays a bad friend/girlfriend/boyfriend. I knew this wasn’t a friend-turned-boyfriend arc because the book explanation basically lays it out for you that she falls in love with a Witch Hunter, but I had hoped that she would have treated Alex a little better. Or had this as a flaw and then learned/grew from it.

Spoiler, NO. No, she doesn’t. If you can't tell, I'm salty about it.

Anyway, moving on…. Rune is determined to save this one witch, Seraphine, who is a friend of her grandmother’s. However, Gideon (Witch Hunter) is also making that difficult by hunting the “Crimson Moth” which turns out is Rune.

The Main point of the story is that Rune and Gideon are playing each other. Rune is using Gideon in the hopes of having an unlimited unknown informant, and Gideon is playing Rune to prove/disprove that she is the Crimson Moth.

The thing is, Rune is supposed to be an aristocratic girl meaning “high born” or “better than” some other people. She hangs with the rich folks, the pompous ones and is by any other title, shallow. There are hints early in the book about not wanting to be seen in a dark corner with a guy, and Rune declares she doesn’t care. Then later in the book, one guy has no issues basically calling her a slut. To which Alex stands up in her defense.

Rune brings men to her room, casts a truth teller spell on them, and takes any information they may have. The problem is, most aristocratic women wouldn’t bring a lot of guys into their rooms for fear of a stained reputation. However, that doesn’t seem to be an issue in this book though I couldn’t figure out why the author chose to mention it in the beginning. Also, if you're trying to keep a low profile, it's probably a bad idea to keep bringing strange men into your house and then have them going home with little to no idea what actually happened.

Either way, Rune’s main goal is to save Seraphine. However, she ends up liking Gideon a lot. Plus, she learns some hard truths about witches that she didn’t know before. Still, like characters in books must do they both make horrible wrong decisions, and that leads to the ending of the book.

It’s not an old story, but it isn’t completely original. Also, there’s an inclusion of needing blood for spells and using one’s own blood causes casting scars that witches are persecuted for. So to avoid that, Rune uses her menstrual blood. I had a total ick factor from this. I hate touching my own period blood, plus the smell??? She keeps it in a bottle to use for spells just on her person. Listen, I know it’s just blood what does it matter. I hear you… it’s just kinda gross. Period blood smells and feels a lot different than just regular body blood. It has a smell that can turn your stomach. I can’t imagine touching it days after collecting it and housing it in a bottle. Plus, she’s leaving this blood on doors, walls, floors… I’m sorry for offending but I really didn’t like this use. Why not just use blood from donor bags? I mean there are hospitals so surely there are other options.

This is book 1# most of my criticisms haven’t even fully been developed yet. The blood magic could be further explained, reasons why she did what she did; I’m sure the story goes even deeper and will surely be in Book 2#.

Despite this detail that I didn’t like, the writing is really good. Dialogue between characters is interesting, not boring and the story has a really good pace. There is never a dull moment. The details are beautiful too and the descriptions of buildings, rooms, and exterior landscapes make it easy to visualize what you’re reading.

Gideon has a great back story, Rune could use more but like I mentioned Book 2# will probably have more for Rune.


Rune Winters: Loyal, Kind, Passionate, and determined. A witch ready to save other witches at the expense of her own life. Strawberry blonde hair, and described as “beautiful” leave you to imagine the character yourself. I saw her with a button nose, rounded face, and short stature.

Gideon Sharpe: Gideon is the older brother of Alex, and he’s had a rough relationship with witches. His personal experiences have made him hate and loathe witches. So he’s made it his life mission to hunt them down, purge them, and rid the world of their evil. Gideon is described as tall, with large hands, and is often called “brutish” which makes me think he’s a tall, muscled guy; with dark hair.

Alex Sharpe: Alex is kind, sweet, loyal and clearly cares deeply for Rune, though she doesn’t care to see it or is blind. Alex loves Rune, that much is clear from the beginning. He wants to finish school to be a musician. He loves playing piano, and Rune describes his music as “transporting her to another world” so he’s really good.

Verity De Wilde: Verity has dark brown, curly hair and is Rune’s best friend. Her first friend after her Nan was purged. Verity had two sister witches who were also murdered. She helps Rune with spells she doesn’t understand, even though Verity herself is not a witch. However, Verity is a two-sided coin.

Nicolas Creed: Leader of the New Republic, Father of Laila, and another son whose name I have forgotten. He shows up a few times in the first book. He’s stoic, tough, brutish, and harsh.

Laila Creed: She’s mean. That’s pretty much the extent of her personality.

Harrow: Possibly wronged by a witch, but not the witch who was her master? I’m still confused about Harrow’s backstory, more will be revealed in Book 2 I’m sure. Harrow is the pusher behind Gideon seducing Rune. She’s the one who encourages him to sleep with her to be sure she has no casting scars. The problem is, that he knows his brother loves her. However, the mission comes first. Harrow is right there continuously pushing him towards her.


It’s not the best book I’ve read this year but it wasn’t the worst. It had good characters and good dialogue. I enjoyed the story for the most part. I liked Gideon’s character, Rune’s was okay; I felt there was more opportunity to give her a deeper backstory but it’s hard to be too harsh on the book considering it is one in a series and not a standalone novel. I probably won’t purchase Book 2# just because there are others I’m more interested in reading, but it’s a good story.

If you like Cat and Mouse romance, lovers turned enemies then this is the book for you.


Here’s the bit where I talk a little bit about the ending of this book. If you don’t want to know the ending or if you don’t want to spoil it for yourself, then look away now.

Okay so firstly, this is Book 1# of what is supposed to be a trilogy, so I can’t make any complaints about the ending of the book considering it isn’t really the ending. Also, I won’t reveal the full ending because that would be sad.

I am Justice for Alex, I was so mad that Rune just constantly ignored his clear affection for her. Rune spends so much time trying to get “information” out of the Gideon, someone who knows more about witches than anyone and Rune is just fine risking her neck. It then becomes a lust between Gideon and Rune. This isn’t a love thing. Gideon is using her, she’s using him. His main goal is to find casting scars and prove she’s a witch. She knows he’s trying to uncover the Crimson Moth, yet early on in their “relationship,” he gives her bad intel and lays a trap. Which Rune embarrassingly falls into.

She’s young, she makes mistakes, and it’s good for characters to have flaws that are corrected throughout the course of the book/series; however, Rune just doesn’t even double-check intel. She takes what Gideon tells her at face value. It’s pretty stupid to trust the person you know is trying to prove you’re a witch. Perhaps that is an arc with her, we won’t know until the next book.

If you’ve read any of my articles already, I’m not much into sex scenes in books. Especially when they are there strictly for “body content” while books like “Outlander” make love between a man and wife special and long-lasting. That’s what we all dream about, someone who will love us our whole lives. So, I’m always a little put off when I have to read through what is essentially a lust-filled, shallow, fake intimate scene between two characters.

Rune flaunts herself in ways that would have been unbecoming in the setting, and small comments here and there make it seem like that is still the case. Gideon wants to swim in the ocean, Rune has no problem stripping down… for the mission at least. She ultimately decides to sleep with him because once and for all, it would clear her as a witch. The problem is, “Good Girls” of that time period, would not have been easy. They would not have just slept with anyone. So the actual time setting of the book gets confusing because the actions of these girls don’t always reflect on what should be the time period the book is inspired from.

No phones, no TVs, no electronics, gas lights so you know it’s before the 1920’s era inspiration, however, the young women don’t fully act in a way common for that period. They definitely wouldn’t be out with a man alone at night.

So as you’re reading try not to confuse the setting, it happened to me a few times and it can make you go back a few pages if you’re not careful.

Aside from those few things the book was okay. It’s not my favorite and I won’t be picking up book 2, but someone who likes lovers to enemies, cat and mouse, and just overall friends to enemies will enjoy this book a lot I think. The dialogue was good, and the characters are okay from the start but have room to grow.

Happy Reading and may you walk the road less traveled!

I am an Amazon affiliate and any links do provide me a small commission. Thank you!

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About the Creator


I am a writer, author and painter. I have a Master's degree in Creative Writing and love writing about all kinds of topics.

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