Thorfinn and the Witch's Curse

The Forerunner Series Book 1

Fiction - Fantasy - General
348 Pages
Reviewed on 07/27/2020
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Jay Veloso Batista is a published author of Historical Fantasy and Supernatural Suspense, technical non-fiction, poetry and role playing games. The Forerunner Series includes ‘Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse,’ 'The Vardoger Boy (August 2020),' and the upcoming 'On Viking Seas (Q1 2021).' Jay's stories are steeped in authentic history, myths and legends of the time period and still endeavor to capture a reader's heart and mind with exciting adventures.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse: The Forerunner Series Book 1 takes the reader deep into the heart of Viking-occupied Britain at the beginning of the ninth century. Author Jay Veloso Batista shows us a fragmented land that is dominated and ruled by a mixture of Angles, Saxons, Danes, Celts, and Scots, where the languages and dialects are as varied as the many different ethnicities that inhabit these isles. Thorfinn (Finn) is a timid, ten-year-old boy growing up in a typical Viking family in Britain at the time. Some of the family, his Uncle Karl for instance, are away on raiding expeditions (known as going Viking) but the bulk of the family is intent on creating a life and earning a living from the hard work of farming, trapping, hunting, or artisanship. Finn is only the third boy in the family and his father has set him on the path of life with a forestry apprenticeship. Finn’s life takes an unexpected turn when he, his brothers, and a friend seek out adventure and discovering an old place of legend. Their encounter with an evil witch will change Finn’s simple existence forever when he discovers he has been turned into a vardoger – a living ghost. Finn now has the ability, whilst his body sleeps, to transfer between Midgard (everyday life) and another similar realm where he is a ghost, while his physical body rests. His ability to move unknown amongst his family, friends, and enemies allows him to become privy to many things including dangerous plots against his family and specifically his uncle. Will Finn find the courage and the ability to stop these evil men intent on destroying his family and the upcoming nuptials of his older sister?

As a lover of fiction based on historical periods, surprisingly, I have read little of this dark period in Britain’s history and after reading Thorfinn and the Witch’s Curse, I find myself asking why have I not read this genre before? Author Jay Veloso Batista beautifully draws you into this tale of familial love, loyalty, and sacrifice that gives a different view of the Norsemen that we have always been told were intent on rape, pillage, and destruction. To be sure, there is plenty of action and fighting in this tale but the central themes are those of family, love, devotion, and cultural pride. Although this was a time of constant conflict the author shows how through careful matrimonial alliances peace was often maintained and families were built across cultures. One of the joys of historical novels is that they expose the reader to new and exciting legends and beliefs. This book does a fantastic job of introducing and elucidating on Norse lore, magical, beliefs, and cultural norms. The characters ring true and, as a reader, it was easy to be drawn to the young Finn, who, as a third boy in the family, was destined to live an ordinary and unexciting life. The unexpected adventures he stumbled over gave a depth of character to the young man that bodes well for future iterations of this series. As an author I have not come across before, Batista strikes me as one well worth following and I am certainly invested enough in this story to want to read Book 2. I await it with bated breath and can highly recommend this book.

K.J. Simmill

In Jay Veloso Batista's Thorfinn and the Witch's Curse, it started long ago when a witch was slain, but for Finn, his troubles began when he visited the tower where she met her demise. He hadn't even wanted to go - if only he'd listened to his instincts and stayed away. He knew of the witch's curse, knew the tale well from nights sharing stories, but something drove him there that day, be it peer pressure or destiny. But after visiting, Finn's brother, Sorven, becomes sick, and Finn swears he saw a figure, the witch, standing over him. With his brother cursed, growing weaker, he has no choice to return to her home, to try to reverse what was done. Only there are consequences he didn't expect, complications he never imagined. A boy by day, a ghost by night; he now has the problems of two realms on his shoulders. His uncle is in danger, his life on the line. Somehow Finn must come to accept all he is and the danger that forever stalks him because if he can't and if he fails, more than just his own life is on the line.

The first thing you will notice about Thorfinn and the Witch's Curse is the complete immersion in the world. Vibrant descriptions and masterful scene settings draw you into a time of ages past where you will truly feel as if you are in the hustle and bustle of the world, absorbing every detail as it unfolds around you to provide a strong and realistic setting. The characters are distinctive, each possessing their own story arc, which adds to the full feel of the world and the depth of people within when they are taken on a rollercoaster ride of excitement, fear, and intrigue. Action, danger, change, and adventure combine in a plot filled with myth, superstition, legend, and the supernatural. An entertaining read with great scene-setting and plot development.

K.C. Finn

Thorfinn and the Witch's Curse is a work of fiction in the fantasy, action and adventure sub-genres, and was penned by author Jay Veloso Batista. Written as the first novel in The Forerunner Series, the work is suitable for all readers thanks to no graphic content. As such, this highly immersive and engaging fantasy work takes us into a world of Vikings and a fascinating interspersing of real history with supernatural and ghostly goings-on. Our central hero Finn begins the journey as a typical young boy of his clan, but when a curse sees him transformed into a part-ghostly vardoger, everything changes for him. What results is a story of coming of age, learning to own your power, and facing up to an epic adventure.

Author Jay Veloso Batista has crafted a superb work of fantasy fiction which will surely tick all the boxes for fans of the genre. I was at once immersed in the world of Viking warriors and their way of life in their new land of England, and then the plot got even more exciting with Finn’s transformation. The emotional connection and the journey that Finn goes on as he adjusts to his new role was really heartfelt and helped readers relate to him more and more. All of this combined with highly immersive descriptive work and a fast-paced and exciting plot delivers a satisfying and sensational series opener. Overall, I would highly recommend Thorfinn and the Witch's Curse to high fantasy fans of all ages seeking a fantastic adventure.