I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the Frenzy Presents event organised by Harper Collins Canada publishing house. This is an event to which book bloggers are invited to be introduced to upcoming young adult fiction.
The guest author at the event was Laurie Forest, the writer of The Black Witch. I had not read her debut novel and was interested to hear her speak as she wrote my favourite genre, fantasy fiction. When she told us that social injustice had inspired her novel, I was eager to begin reading.
Genre: young adult fiction, fantasy
Elloren Gardner is the splitting image of her famous grandmother, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces in the last Realm War. But while her people, the Gardnerians, believe she will follow Carnissa as the next Black Witch of the prophesy, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.
When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.
From the first page, I knew I would enjoy this fantasy tale. My introduction to Elloren, the protagonist, is immediate. Her relationships with other characters are described through authentic dialogue; and her environment is introduced to us not only through description but also through her reaction to it. The world of Gardenia is introduced to us slowly as we read the text. Not only are we introduced to the physical world, but the social world as well. We slowly come to understand the social hierarchy of Laurie Forest’s created world; as well as the customs (such as wandfasting).
The attention to detail in this novel is amazing and takes on an epic quality. The various characters are neatly interwoven within the story – everything connecting to Elloren, the lead of the story. As Elloren experiences a new life at the University, we see her grow in understanding of her environment and of the social injustices that exist in her world. The Black Witch is not only the story of a young girl experiencing education at a university – it is a story highlighting the prejudice and the injustices that are found in society. Forest refers to the subjugation of women, the inequality between races, the prejudice that exists against those who are homosexual.
I enjoyed reading The Black Witch for so many reasons. It is well written. The story takes me into a fantasy land that allows me to use my imagination. The novel is a reflection of what we see in our present modern world and, while reading, my mind was constantly making connections and reflecting on what I was reading and what exists in the world. I felt I was an active reader. Lastly, I love stories that are epic tales – and The Black Witch is of this ilk
If you enjoy fantasy fiction and detailed sagas, The Black Witch by Laurie Forest is a must-read!
I give this novel ⭐⭐⭐ ⭐ ⭐ 5 stars.
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018
(This novel was the 59th in my 50 book pledge for 2018)