Witches Steeped in Gold Readalong Day 1!

Beautiful photo by @katiesreadingnow

Hey Fairy Friends!

How are you all doing today? I hope this month has been a good one! Are you ready to kickstart our Readalong of Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart?

In today’s section of the Readalong, we’ll be reading Chapters 1 to 12 (over 100 pages in total) so be sure to get cosy, grab a snack and a drink, and bundle yourself up in blankets as we dive into this epic read! When you’ve finished reading this section, you can join me back here in the comments to chat all about it!

Please be warned, the following will include spoilers for Witches Steeped in Gold by Ciannon Smart, from Chapters 1 to 12! Read only if you’ve finished those chapters!


Ok, so first thoughts? There is A LOT of scheming going on, huh?

The book begins with Jazmyne, an emissary to the Doyenne (leader of the witches) who is on her way to a meeting with the Nameless—a resistance group who want to overthrow their leader. We meet two characters: Anya and Light Keeper, both of whom seem pretty important and badass figures within the resistance, and learn one of the reasons for wanting to overthrow the Doyenne is because of the Yielding, a sacrificial Hunger Games type rite that provides protection for their island of Aiyca.

Then, to round off the chapter we learn that Jazmyne is the Doyenne in question’s daughter, but despite the Nameless’s faith in her, she doesn’t think she’s ready to take her mother’s place. Well, that makes this whole thing VERY interesting indeed!

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Cut to six nights later and a new POV: Ira. We learn Ira is a different type of witch, an Obeah with dark hair rather than silver like Jazmyne (who is an Alumbrah). Ira is trapped in Carne prison alongside Kaleisha and many other Obeah witches, all of whom wants to escape and join the Jade Guild (a group of Obeah rebels who want to overthrow the Doyenne). Ohh, I’m liking these guys already.

We then switch back to Jazmyne who is waiting for the Doyenne’s announcement about this year’s Yielding. The Nameless seem to be on the cusp of assassinating the Doyenne right then and there until she announces that this year’s Yielding will not be going ahead. Um, what? Did anyone else see that coming?!

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Back to Ira, where the rebellion against the Carne prison guards is well underway. But while fighting back, Ira betrays the other prisoners by abandoning them to save herself (um, not cool Ira). However, she is then caught by one of the guards—the leading guard in fact, who just so happens to be another emissary to the Doyenne—and it turns out this was Ira’s plan all along: to become a shield to the Doyenne in order to get closer to her and kill her.

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The Carne prisoners, along with Ira, are transferred to Carling Hill in order to be imbued with their ancestor’s magic. But waiting for them there are the Doyenne and Jazmyne. Ira informs the Doyenne of who she is—the last living heir of the Adair family, the ones the current Doyenne usurped—and how she wants to be her shield to protect her from any threats. Instead, the Doyenne has Ira muzzled and sent for execution, but she fights back and manages to escape through the island’s woods where she reaches her family tree and is gifted her magic. However, it’s not long before Ira is caught and brought back to the Doyenne, who drinks her blood, binding them together and putting Ira under the her control. The leading guard, Kirdan, who Jazmyne seems to like, is ordered to kill the remaining prisoners to ensure no word of the rebellion gets out.

So kinda beginning to understand why the Nameless and Ira want the Doyenne dead… Anyone else agree?

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While travelling back to the capital city, we learn more about the leading guard, Kirdan (who happens to be another type of witch—a Zesian). He is also a member of the Divsylar family, a line blessed with a magic surplus like Ira’s family. Leaving her in a cell, Kirdan makes Ira feel bad for leaving her sistren and calls her selfish. Harsh words, but is there some truth to them? Was Ira right to betray them?

Meanwhile, Jazmyne meets with Anya who tells her about an attack by the Jade Guild. Is it possible that they know about Ira being alive?

Taken from her cell, Ira believes death awaits only for the Doyenne to make her her shield, trapping her in a bargain to protect their island. Ira tries to kill the Doyenne right then and there but the bargain prevents her. When she leaves, she sees Kirdan who remarks that she is not like the stories. And is it me or is that meant as potentially more than just a compliment?

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And it’s here that we finish section one of the readalong. And what a section! Will Ira be able to overthrow the Doyenne now that she’s locked in the Doyenne’s bargain? Can Jazmyne and Ira somehow work together given their shared goals? And what is going on with Kirdan, Ira and Jazmyne? Stay tuned as we continue reading throughout this week!

Let me know your thoughts on the first few chapters of Witches Steeped in Gold, and I’ll be back again tomorrow to talk more about it!



52 thoughts on “Witches Steeped in Gold Readalong Day 1!

  1. Unpopular opinion already, and maybe its because I’ve been listening to this as an audiobook – but I couldn’t follow along AT ALL. I was SO CONFUSED the entire time and I’m seriously considering DNF-ing this book, sadly. I was really looking forward to it, but I can’t bring myself to care to pick it up again… its too political for my tastes personally.

    1. I can understand what your saying, there is so much going on and Al the different terms it’s hard to follow in the beginning. In the book at the end there is some explanation of the witches when I found that it was easier to follow and now I’m invested in the story.

      1. yes, there is definitely a lot to unpack! but such a good tip Priscilla, thank you so much for flagging! 🙂

      2. Ohh I didn’t know that about the end of the book – I really wish they put those things in the front, I never find them until the end and they’re so helpful! Thanks for the info!

    2. I had the same feeling for the first 30ish pages, very difficult to follow. Not a native speaker and at times I felt like reading in an unknown language 🙂 I had to really slow down the reading tempo to grasp what was happening and to whom 🙂 I’m happy I put some effort into it, the story is getting quite dramatic and captivating.

  2. This book is out of my comfort zone. I’m not a huge fan of political books as they usually go straight over me. Got to admit I’m very intrigued though and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s chapters

    1. happy to hear you’re intrigued Jeni! excited for today’s chapters too 🙂

  3. This book starts off so strong wow. I feel like there is so much going on, I love that! I’m excited to read more tomorrow and see what happens with Ira!

    1. so glad you’re enjoying it! and yes it definitely starts off strong 🙂 can’t wait to see what happens between Ira and Jazmyne!

  4. Yeeeeah so straight in with it. Personally a fan of thrown into the action and then unpicking the context and world building as we go. Will likely struggle to keep pace on the read-a-long as my day jobs demanding but I’ll try to keep up! ??

  5. wow, there’s a lot to take in and Ira has really painted herself up into a corner… Really excited to see how this develops! and there is some interesting dynamics in this books, which I can’t wait to get to know more about!

  6. I found it hard to follow at first, but I think I’ve got it all down and I’m really enjoying it. I think the chapters flow really well and there’s a lot of information being shared organically without it feeling info dumpy. I’m tempted to just keep reading as I don’t know if I can wait to find out what happens next!

  7. I can understand what your saying, there is so much going on and Al the different terms it’s hard to follow in the beginning. In the book at the end there is some explanation of the witches when I found that it was easier to follow and now I’m invested in the story.

  8. Massive info dump today! I was getting a bit confused at times but think I get the jist of it now!

    I like the different types of witches. Lots of scheming going on. Looking forward to seeing what happens next

    1. yes, love the scheming too! and happy to hear you’re excited to see what happens next! 🙂

  9. This first part was really difficult to go through, I think. It looks like we finally got who’s is who, and i’m still not sure who i want to win in this story. I’ll see tomorrow for the next part but i already don’t like the Doyenne, even if I’m not sure I like Ira or Jazmyne… O_o ?

  10. So, it’s definitely a bit difficult for me to progress with the book, because there are so many words I don’t know and I’m not a native English reader, but I’m enjoying it nevertheless. Other than this, I’m curious how things will progress, so far I prefer Jazmyne of the two POVs, but we’ll see how will that change in the future. Can’t wait to continue!

    1. I forgot to mention it yesterday, but I hope there won’t be a love triangle, not really fond of those.

  11. This was such a richly immersive and intricate beginning, it took me a little while to adjust to the language and world, but then so much action already, setting up the stage beautifully for the next part to play out! I can’t wait to see more of the magic, and those personalities clash and develop further…such fierceness underpinned with a realistic mysticism, it could go somany places from here!

  12. I’m a little confused so far, a lot of things came and I need to think about them. Probably it’s my brain, because it’s hard for me today to be focused. XD

    Jazmyne cooperation with the Nameless—a resistance group looks for me artificially: both sides want to achieve something and don’t trust each other. It’s only my impression, Jazmyne isn’t in 100% sure that the Nameless will be a better choice for the island.

    Ira will be great, I can feel it. As for now I like her more than Jazmyne. Different kind of magic which she has intrigues me. I want to know more about magic system.

  13. I don’t know what to think yet. I think the world building is so far interesting, but for me, the beginning of the story was already complicated because there is so much information and a complicated history. I also think it get’s more difficult when we switch from perspective every chapter. It’s not badly written though, but for me personally hard to get into. Though I do keep reading because I’m interesed in the concept of the story.

  14. Wow, isn’t there a lot to unpack here? But it’s really intriguing. It almost seems like the three major families are all going to end up battling for the political top spot in a game of thrones type situation. – Really can’t trust another witch.

    The characters are all so great and well developed but I think Jazmyne is my favourite, to go against her mother like that because she believes it’s the right thing to do would take so much courage.

    I am loving every reference to Jamaican lore! Anansi, the Spider God, (tricky bugger he is) is one of my all time favourite characters in mythology. Neil Gaiman Anansi Boys is just fantastic.

    1. yes! completely agree and love Jazmyne too! cannot wait to see all of the politics and betrayal unfold! P.S. really can’t trust a witch should be the motto of this book haha 🙂

  15. like others, i am a little confused… i wish there was a glossary in the back of the book, for more than just the magical specialties. but i do like the political intrigue, and i want to know a lot more about the islands, the empire, and especially the zesians!!!
    see you tomorrow 🙂

    1. yes! very intrigued by the politics and also the Zesians! can’t wait to read along with you today! 🙂

  16. This was so incredible. Who gave Smart the permission to be so talented????? I absolutely adored this. I’m very curious about Jazmyne. She seems to be suffering a real conflict of interest. I have some ideas about what could happen but it’s still early. Loving it so far. This magic system is so cool!

    1. right?? LOVE the magic system and the worldbuilding! and what a conflict of interest! what’s been your favourite part so far? 🙂

      1. It’s hard to pick one, but generally the magical system. For sure seeing the dynamics between the different bloodlines and approaches to magic has drawn me in. The idea of literal trees at the center of it was so cool!

        1. yes! totally agree, the magic system is so cool! 🙂

  17. Not me being all efficient and finishing part one a day early, only to get in from work with the idea of posting about it and instead falling asleep for 8 hours ?

    Obviously WSIG is a book thar comes with a lot of hype and so far I do think it’s good but… because we are so thrown into the deep end on the focus world building and new characters without getting too much time to get to know those characters in section one, I am finding it a little hard to follow so far. I’m hoping once he world buildy, magic systemy bits are done being explained and we get more to the meat of the story it will blossom. As it stands I’m enjoying it but I’m not like ‘omg I have to keep reading right away’.

    1. that’s completely fair enough! and there is a lot going on in the first section of the book! excited to see what happens next and can’t wait to see you for day 2 🙂

  18. Hmm I found this first part fascinating but almost overwhelming to keep track of all the new names and peoples and places. I can’t tell how much is pure fantasy worldbuilding and how much might be rooted in this culture that is very different from my own. At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing Jazmyne grow into her role and seeing if Ira becomes a heroine (taking back her birthright for her people) or a villain (she DID callously betray them during the rebellion).

    1. totally agree, there is a lot going on but I’m also excited to see how Jazmyne and Ira will grow as characters! 🙂

  19. The lingo is definitely a struggle. I am finding myself routing for the current ruling family (not the ruler but that group of witches) Instead of Ira which I don’t think is what the author was going for haha

  20. Hi everybody

    Glad that I am not the only one who is confused but all of the information that is going on but I like the story so far it’s intriguing enough that makes me want to know what is going to happen but mostly I want to is if Ira will take the throne somehow or will Jazmyne beacuse the bitch of the current witch leader is going to die I sure hope so can’t stand her.

    But man am I a bit mad that Ira does not think before she acts girl this got you so screwed how are you going to win now it got me interested indeed.

  21. Usually it takes me a little longer for a story to grip me, but this was fascinating from the start. There is indeed a lot of intrigue going on and I’m curious how our protagonists will start to work together. I hope we get to see more of their magic in the next chapters.

    1. me too! love a good magic system 🙂 who is your favourite character so far?

  22. I read the first chapter and realized that this was the sort of book where I just know I’m going to love it and omg this first day’s readalong was already such a wild ride! Idk if I’m ready for day 2 today

    1. eeeeek so happy to hear you’re loving the book! and yes, it was SUCH a wild ride! get ready for day 2 🙂

  23. I like the conflict so far, as well as the main girls. Though, I have to admit I like Ira more. It was a bit hard to get into it at first, mostly because of the new words I didn’t know, but now the reading is way smoother. Also, I’m so unused to ribbon bookmarks that I keep forgetting it and leave it dangling out of the book ?

    1. me too! the conflict and main characters are great! happy to hear you’re enjoying the book 🙂

  24. Reading this felt like reading Dune, one of my favorite books of all time. It’s so political and it asks you to dive into the world and really work to understand the terms and its setting. I love books that challenge the reader like this – I’ll always start off a bit confused and need to reread sentences to make sure I’m understanding the terms, but by page 60 or so I really picked up reading speed once I was familiar. I’m very excited for the second part!

    1. hooray! so happy to hear you’re enjoying the book and just you wait for part 2! 🙂

  25. i tried to start it…i read only a chapter. The english of this book and all those (i think) jamaican words are really difficult to understand…i will read it, but slowly.
    Just one chapter and i’m really really confused XD

  26. Not going to lie, but it took me to chapter 12 to start getting interested in the book. Just as i got used to the story, the POV changes and i keep losing track of the storyline. Maybe too much world building, too quick

  27. I know im going to fall behind on the reading schedule because that felt like a lot to process in a day and I just started working full time so I won’t be able to read that much every day >.< but I'm looking forward to this world building, and seeing how the characters progress from here!

  28. this book has been interesting so far!! it’s taking me a bit longer to get into it, we are just thrown into the conflict 🙁 I wish there was a little more context or at least easing into the conflict rather than just straighforward going into it. But i’m excited as to see Jazmyne and Ira develop more along the way! ?

  29. I’m a little late to the readalong. I had a bit of trouble getting into this book. You are just thrown right into the story without a lot of explanation. And there are a lot of terms that I do not understand. It really made it quite tough to really get into the story. I feel like I’m understanding a bit more now but not everything yet… I hope it gets a bit easier to read as we go on! I love the concept and where the story is going so I’excited to continue

  30. I really enjoyed the beginning and it definitely hooked me into the story! I cannot wait to read more. I have to admit I actually prefer Jazmyne to Ira, I think its because Ira is too rash and does not think ahead unless it was her plan to be under the Doyenne control?? She is a confusing one that’s for sure!

    I think its a great start to what will be a fantastic book!

  31. It has been a bit slow start for the readalong for me. So I’m posting a bit late 🙂 Just felt like expressing gratitude for characters that are not two-dimensional, clearly good or bad. Seems like everyone has their debts to pay so to say. We’ll see whether or how they come to terms with each other. With the hurt they have all caused.

    1. yes, couldn’t agree more about the characters! and I love how you have no idea if someone is going to betray someone else! hope you manage to get more into the book Anneli! 🙂

  32. Is anybody else having trouble with the author’s writing style? There are so many run-on sentences that my poor adhd brain refuses to process ? This makes it really hard for me to get invested and I might end up DNFing ?

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