Oxford University Press, the publisher of Witchfinder, is heralding William Hussey as "the New Master of Dark Fiction", and based on this story I would suggest that the people at OUP really know their stuff and are on to a sure-fire winner with this author.
Dawn of the Demontide is the first book in a planned trilogy, but it is not just a vehicle for setting the scene for the next two books. In fact, so much happens in this book that I am finding it difficult to write a detailed review without any spoilers. This book has everything a young horror fan could thirst for: a horror-loving hero who is considered unpopular and a loner by his peers; a truly evil villain who thinks nothing of inflicting horrifying punishments on anyone who crosses him, members of his own coven included; ancient rites involving blood sacrifice; deadly mist that could only emanate from the depths of hell; witches and their terrifying familiars; the list goes on and on.
This is William Hussey's first venture into the world of YA fiction but he has honed his craft with two spine-chilling books written for the adult market (under the name Bill Hussey). However, in this transition to writing for a younger audience Mr Hussey has most definitely not felt the need to hold back from writing a very dark and terrifying story. In fact, there are a number of particularly gory moments in this book which lead me to suggest that this is definitely for the 12+ market, especially with Mr Hussey's talent for writing vivid horror scenes that are rich with blood-curdling detail. His other talent is for providing an intricately plotted narrative that twists and turns throughout, keeping the tension levels high and never quite giving the reader enough information to be able to guess just what is going to happen next.
The author certainly knows his subject as well. His passion for "horror stories, folklore and legends" (as stated in the short author biography at the end of the book) shines through in his writing, and also with the homage he pays to classics of the genre. For example, Jake Harker and Dr Holmwood are very obviously named in tribute to Jonathan Harker and Arthur Holmwood, the co-hunters of Dracula in Bram Stoker's legendary masterpiece, and with its similar tone of dark, brooding menace Dawn of the Demontide is the kind of book that you will struggle to put down. I therefore suggest you start reading it on a bright, sunny morning as you certainly won't be wanting to read it after the sun goes down and the creatures that prowl the dark night are itching to tap on your bedroom window.