A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut. In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet's word is law, Immanuelle Moore's very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement. But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood. Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.
The Year of the WitchingFeatured
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.
2. Intense, dark fantasy where a girl fights against a Patriarchy