Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch

Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch

Laurie Forest’s The Black Witch got some rotten and unfair reviews.  I suspect that anyone who slammed this book as racist didn’t read the whole book.  Perhaps they are just so stupid they missed the very clear point.  In life, we all start out believing whatever we have been taught.  When we hit a certain age and venture out into the bigger world, most of us come to the realization that some of those values we were raised to accept are worth holding on to, but others are the result of fear and a limited world view.  This is a fantasy read that incorporates that experience.  If you stick with the book beyond the first few chapters, it is obvious that this is all about learning to accept and even cherish differences.  I gave this book four stars, and I think readers who give the book a real chance will agree.

Goodreads Summary
A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.

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. 

My Thoughts

The Black Witch is an easy book to fall into, and I apparently raced through 600+ pages this evening without realizing it!  I quickly recognized that this was going to be a fairly predictable read, and I wasn’t wrong, but I still found myself drawn into the vast world populated with characters I became attached to – Diana was surprisingly my favorite.  I was a bit disappointed that such a big book didn’t move me a little closer to more resolution, but I will be quite happy to luxuriate in a couple more volumes to get those resolutions.  A lot of the book is spent in pairing off couples in romances, which I thought slowed the pace and watered down the story, but I imagine many YA readers will appreciate the forbidden kisses and the longing.  Themes are timely and address prejudice, friendship, and standing up for what is right.  I know my high school readers will enjoy this book, especially those who liked Harry Potter or who have ever felt like they just didn’t fit in with the crowd.  I’m adding it to my classroom library wishlist.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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