Cover Image: The Pawns

The Pawns

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Member Reviews

Witches one and all, they carry out the work of the devil himself. Kill them. Not a wizard, warlock, shamen or medicine man in sight. A collective term for all.

It’s been a while since I have read something from the supernatural, and this doesn’t fail to deliver. Following a small band of travel weary witches, whose ancesteral magic has inadvertently summond a demon, whilst in the process of trying to help others. There is only a single family, that are mortal born. And, they have become the focal point.

One said witch has aligned themselves with said demon, and has come to realise powers far greater than most.

There is something for everyone within this tale, possession, mind control, shape shifting, and an all important magic ball.

The characters are strong, and the plot is entwined amongst them all, like ivy vying for position on a already choking tree trunk. You feel as they are a part of you, and that this entire tale is being played out right infront of you. It really does draw you in that much.

I must admit that I was a little dubious at the start, as the first few chapters did seem a little slow out of the starting blocks. However, it did reach a wonderful crescendo at its climax.

I think I might have to find the first book in this series, just to find out what happend in the years before this one is set. If this is anything to go by, it should be a good read.

Status: Completed

Rating: 4.0/5.0
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A deep and complex study of witches and witchcraft that leaves the reader mulling if there can be or ever was "white witchcraft" despite the intent and practices of the witches and their true intent. A truly frightening story of the truly well meaning witches who through misdirection and simple lack of comprehension sent many unwittingly to the Devil's playground. A book to be pondered and keep you awake well into the night
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The Pawns is the second instalment of The Bucharest Witches Saga. The Pawns picks up four years after the events of book one – The Banished, which was about a group of mortals living in Vermont, USA and a coven of witches from Bucharest in Romania. Travis (the main protagonist) belongs to a long line of esteemed witches in an ancient coven – the coven relies on ritual killings, disguised as accidents, to sustain itself, but Travis believes he is of a higher order than the other witches in the coven because his magic doesn’t kill. To replenish depleted power, he feeds on human fear alone.

Over a Century after Travis’s parents are killed by the witch council after experimenting with the advanced magic that feeds off of mortal fear and the reanimation of dead people, Travis moves to the sleepy town of Sussex in Vermont to put his parents’ magic, (that he has honed with the help of fellow excommunicated witch, Sorinah Patrascu) to the test. Travis plans to wreak havoc in Vermont to draw enough power to seek revenge against the witch council who murdered his parents, but a scheming council member will do anything to stop him with disastrous consequences for the neighbouring mortals and specifically for a clique of college coeds.

Four years on, the mortals have moved on with their lives, that is until Rachel begins to have nightmares about her missing friend, Sophia. Rachel and her ex-boyfriend, James follow clues from her reoccurring nightmares and end up finding the body of their friend and classmate who went missing without a trace four years ago. Travis, now a psychologist, uses his magic to develop an experimental therapy that will extract trauma from his mortal patients’ psyches and uses the energy from those traumas to provide fuel for witches, a win-win for witches and mortals, at least in theory. When the experiment goes wrong, Travis struggles to figure out where his treatment went off course – meanwhile he falls victim to a plot launched by an old enemy seeking revenge. Travis is lured from Romania back to Vermont, where most of the events took place in book one and the mortals once again become ‘The Pawns’ in a battle between the witches.

Although this isn’t my usual genre, I found I really enjoyed this book. Not realising this was book two and not having first read book one, I thought I’d struggle to get into the book, but I didn’t – it would be better to The Banished first, having read some of its reviews, but it isn’t strictly necessary. As you proceed through the story, you are filled in on what happened four years ago and how it has affected everyone – the story then segways nicely into present-day events, twisting a complex tale of good and bad and the shades of grey between the two. The Pawns was enjoyably fast-paced and dread-inducing with a constant sense of foreboding and extremely atmospheric. The ending leaves the door firmly ajar for further instalments and I can easily see this becoming the next supernatural horror series on many ‘to be read’ lists.

My thanks to the author and Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Members Titles for my advance copy to review via Netgalley. This book is out 13th May 2022!
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The Pawns is the second installment of The Bucharest Witches saga.  The first book was The Banished which was about a group of mortals living in Vermont and a coven of powerful witches from Romania. I thoroughly enjoyed The Banished and eagerly awaited the release of book 2. The Pawns picks up 4 years after the events on book 1. The mortals have moved on with their lives without further interference from the witches until Rachel begins having nightmares about her missing friend Sophia. Little does she suspect that her dreams are the result of a cunning witch. Meanwhile, Travis (the main character from book 1) has become a psychologist and is married and expecting a baby. Travis is continuing to try to perfect the ancestral magic of his parents by perfecting a way to refuel a witch’s energy without killing a mortal. Travis is using his job as a psychologist to experiment on his patients. His goal is that patients can talk about their mental health pain while he is able to feed off of their pain. It should be a harmless exchange and mutually beneficial for each side. However, things do not turn out the way that Travis has planned. Travis also discovers that a new threat has arisen with the mortals in Vermont and he wants to help. Will Travis be able to save the mortals while also elevating the coven’s magic or will something more sinister emerge from the dark?
Overall, I enjoyed The Pawns. I enjoyed seeing how Travis continues to try to perfect his ancestral magic without killing humans. I liked that the same mortals from book 1 were being used as pawns to help the witches on their mission. I also like the darker elements at play here (I will not reveal more about this for fear of spoilers) and the exploration of the very fine line between good and evil. There is also the concept of who is the real pawns who are being moved toward the ultimate goal of everyone involved. 
I do recommend reading The Banished before reading The Pawns.
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Who are the Pawns?  Ask yourself the question throughout this clever fast-paced thriller and you may find the answer shifting!

In this excellent sequel to The Banished, Ron Gabriel delivers an exciting tale of magic, betrayals, and blurry lines between good and evil. 

Along the way, the author creatively builds the repertoires of magical abilities possessed by the witches.  And my sympathies grew for the now-familiar unfortunate mortals whose lives became entangled with them.

Well developed characters and a crescendo of action drew me to read this thriller quickly to an ending that was very satisfying yet leaves unfinished business for the next book.
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#ThePawns is a well written story that goes back and forth between USA and Romania, mortals and witches.    I had some difficulty getting through it, but only because I had. It read book#1 first.   I would recommend that the reader take in “The Banished: The Bucharest Witches #1” first in order to get the most out of this book.  Thank you #netgalley for allowing me to read this ARC.
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Having not read the first book in this series I went into this book blind. A coven of witches want to extend their family with disastrous consequences. A powerful witch wants to increase his power without hurting mortals and a young witch is in training. The story was good and very entertaining. Not much horror. Think of Twighlight with witches instead of vampires. Will definitely read the first book as I want to know more about Travis and how this feud began.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.
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I've always been a fan of supernatural books with fantasy aspects.

The Pawns was an interesting read, but the language style used by the author did make it a struggle to keep myself glued to the book. It seemed very laid back and informal and didn't really justify some of the serious scenes throughout the book.

There was also much more dialogue than I'm used to, that could've been kept to the minimal of the important things that needed to be said by the characters.

Overall, it was a good read, but I feel I may have enjoyed it more if I had started off with the first book in the series to have a better understanding and foundation for this book.

Thank you for the opportunity to read the book, full review will be published on my blog soon.
Sincerely Yours, Annie
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The Pawns Review – Robert Goldstein

A Chilling and Thought-Provoking Book

The Pawns is the second installment in the “Bucharest Witches” series about a coven of witches in Bucharest, Romania and a group of mortals in Burlington, Vermont who are unwittingly ensnared in a battle between two of the witches.  The Pawns takes place after the events of the first book (“The Banished”) and reintroduces many of the characters from the first novel.  I highly recommend reading The Banished first, but the story in The Pawns stands on its own and can be enjoyed even if you haven’t read The Banished.  

Without giving too much away, the primary character in The Pawns is Travis, a powerful witch living in present-day Bucharest, Romania.  Travis is a member of a coven of witches who survive by feeding from the energy generated by mortals, often killing the mortals in the process.  Travis, a trained psychologist, uses his magic to develop an experimental therapy that extracts past traumas from his mortal patients’ psyches and uses the energy from those traumas to provide fuel for witches — a win-win for witches and mortals, at least in theory.  Travis’ well-intentioned experiment goes awry, with devastating results.  As Travis struggles to figure out where his treatment went wrong and how it can be corrected, he falls victim to a plot launched by another witch seeking revenge against Travis for a past grievance.  Travis’ adversary lures him to Burlington, Vermont, where most of the events in The Banished took place.  That is where a group of unsuspecting mortals become the titular “pawns” in the battle between Travis and his adversary.  

The Pawns is one of those rare books that is instantly captivating, transporting the reader to a world where magic (both good and bad) exists all around us.  It is extremely well written and advances the story at a brisk but steady pace.  The book also effectively creates an atmosphere of dread and foreboding and includes several jaw-dropping twists that made it hard for me to put the book down.    

The Pawns is also notable for its realistic dialogue and its thoughtful portrayal of each major character.  I particularly love how the book describes the mortals’ reaction to the sinister forces that controlled them and their struggle to make sense out of behavior that was utterly inexplicable.  I was equally impressed with The Pawns’ character development.  There are no cliches here.  The Pawns’ characters are complex and nuanced.  The Pawns recognizes that few people (or witches) are all good or bad.   While there is never any doubt that Travis is the protagonist of the story, he is far from perfect.   The antagonist is equally well developed and raises some very valid objections to Travis’ experimental treatment and the harm he caused, albeit unintentionally.   

I thoroughly enjoyed The Pawns and recommend it without hesitation.  I also agree with another reviewer who thought The Pawns (as well as The Banished) would make a great movie or min-series.  Netflix, are you listening?
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This is the second installment of the series by the author. I tried to get into it without reading the first but I guess I need to know more about Travis first. I will definitely come back to give a review on this because I love anything witches and this book sounds interesting enough to me.
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