Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 751
The Year of the Witching
(Updated: July 21, 2020)
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Immanuelle lives in the town of Bethel where the Prophet's word is law and the highest honor for a woman is to be chosen to be one of his many wives. Immanuelle's mother was chosen, but instead she rejected him and fled to the Darkwood where she met an outsider and fell in love. She also came back pregnant. Immanuelle reminds those in Bethel of that fateful day. She's taught not to go into the evil woods. Later, though, Immanuelle ends up in the Darkwood and is given a book by some witches. In this book she learns about what really happened to her mother and the darkness of Bethel. She also discovers a power that has been within her. But in order for Bethel to change, she'll have to change.

What worked: Intense, dark tale of Immanuelle who carries the curse of her mother's action of making the mistake of falling in love with an outsider. Immanuelle tries hard to 'fit' in the town of Bethel by studying the scriptures of the Prophet and being 'good'. Yet she can't deny the allure of the Darkwood that calls to her. The scenes in Darkwood are like stumbling into a Holly Black novel. Loved the vivid descriptions that include the witches and a mysterious book that holds some of the secrets Immanuelle wants. Readers see the struggle Immanuelle has to either follow what Martha, her grandmother, teaches or to read what's in the book the witches gave her.

There's dark magic and feminist tones in this captivating fantasy. Great pacing, suspense set in a world where men keep control with rigid rules and laws. Anyone who goes against the word of the Prophet or is accused of being a witch is burned at the stake. Loved how Immanuelle rises up, even when others in her town try to keep her down. She's shunned by most, except Leah, one friend who is promised to the Prophet.

Immanuelle's struggles and then her overwhelming desires to know more about what was behind her mother's actions and the silence of the town are compelling. I couldn't put this story down and read it in one day. Yes, it's captivating, engaging and so good!

Haunting fantasy that shows a girl standing up against an evil Patriarchy. Handmaid's tale meets Holly Black.
Good Points
1. Handmaid's Tale meets Holly Black
2. Intense, dark fantasy where a girl fights against a Patriarchy
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