SPOILER FREE REVIEW!
The first book in the Black Witch Chronicles.
Genre: Young Adult – Fantasy
Target Audience: 14+
Rating: B (76%)
Goodreads Rating: 4/5
Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, 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.
The Black Witch was good, but it wasn’t great. I enjoyed that it didn’t go where you expected it to. The plot was unique to the genre and in general. I enjoyed the new races and learning about this world that Laurie Forest has created and I honestly can’t wait for the sequel, but there are some problems woven in this novel. I found that the beginning of this book only contained negativity. Everything that Elloren did or that happened to her was completely and utterly negative, bad or disappointing. This can be good in some books, but I felt as if Forest just dragged it on. It was nearly half of the book dedicated to Elloren’s life just spiralling downhill.
I agree that everything that did happen to her, was necessary as without it she wouldn’t have grown as she did as a character. It wouldn’t have been the same story or same main character, even, if the pile of terrible-ness didn’t occur. She had to withstand everything so that her frame of mind could shift and she could become the person needed for everything that occurs in the second half of the novel and perhaps even the sequel.
What I’m suggesting Forest could have done, is condense it. I think that it got to a point where, as a reader, I got tired of hearing about it. I just wanted Forest to get to the damned point. If it wasn’t for the captivating plot, I might have even left this book in the DNF pile. Thankfully I didn’t.
This plot, I was waiting for it to happen. I could feel Forest setting something up. I could sense that she was building towards something but I didn’t know what. I couldn’t put the pieces together, I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen and why all of these characters were being introduced. So many characters. I knew she had a reason, because all characters in a novel should have a purpose.
I was trying to string together the connections, trying to figure out where this story was taking me but I couldn’t and I loved that. Things weren’t predictable. I remember the entire plot was surprise for me, and it was one of the many things that I loved about The Black Witch. The unpredictability, the unique characters and the mentality of society. It captured how the population thinks as a majority.
What I’m about to say, may come off incorrectly and I don’t mean it that way. So I want to put a disclaimer stating that what I’m about to say is only directed towards this book. Please don’t take anything personally, as if I’m trying to attack race, religion or sexuality. I promise you, I’m not. So please, read on with an open mind. Thank you.
When I say that The Black Witch captures how the population thinks as a majority, I of course mean, society. The societal norms that are involved in this world are very clearly defined. There are some races that aren’t accepted in society, that are dismissed and hated. There is no tolerance towards the attraction of the same sex. There is no support of those who do not believe in religion. There are many religions between the many races. This entire concept seems realistic to me. Consider our world today. Consider the fight for equality with sexuality and for race that still exists today. Politics isn’t clean. Politics is about societal opinion. About what everyone as a whole, thinks is right and sometimes, it isn’t correct but it could still be the majority.
I think that’s enough mention of such a controversial topic. I enjoyed that Laurie Forest wanted to add conflict in society. It shows how often people can follow a crowd without discovering the details for themselves.
I do suggest you pick up this book. Be warned that there are spots in this book that contains too much detail, that some points may carry on for a while and that it does have a firm grasp on a few controversial topics. This series is about growth and learning about the world (be it Elloren’s or ours) for yourself, instead of listening to what everyone else has to say. Please give it a read, it’s a good book.
The break down of my rating:
Style & Tone: 7/10
Enjoyment Factor: 6/10