Summary and book reviews of The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

The Black Witch

The Black Witch Chronicles #1

by Laurie Forest

The Black Witch by Laurie Forest X
The Black Witch by Laurie Forest
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2017, 608 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 24, 2018, 608 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Michelle Anya Anjirbag

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About this Book

Book 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.

Winter Institute

Elloren Gardner has spent much of her life in the sheltered town of Halfix, far away from the magic and politics that infuse Valgard, her homeland's capital. With no magical ability of her own, Elloren never expected her powerful aunt, a member of the Mage Council, to take interest in her…until Vyvian appears in Halfix out of the blue, determined to see her niece's future settled once and for all. But before her aunt can sweep her away, Elloren encounters a friend from her past, setting her on a path she never could have imagined for herself.

I'm awakened by a sharp rapping at my window. I jerk up from my bed, look toward the window and am startled by the sight of an enormous white bird sitting on a branch outside, staring intently at me.

One of the birds I saw flying in from the mountains.

Its wings are so white against the blue light of predawn, they seem otherworldly.

I creep out of bed to see how close I can get to the bird before spooking...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The writing in The Black Witch is solid, the fantasy is developed, the world is immersive, and the characters are not flat – though some are emblematic. That being said, fantasy worlds constructed for young adult/adult crossover audiences are not in short supply, nor are those fantasy worlds that use the constructed world to provide a critique of and reflection on myriad social problems. A world like this, a story like this, will ultimately be put up against the worldbuilding of authors such as Tamora Piece, Robin McKinley, and Ursula K. LeGuin, to name a few. While those authors have done a better job of this kind of social critique through fantasy, this should not demerit The Black Witch in and of itself either, as it speaks very much to the contemporary reality within which it was published.   (Reviewed by Michelle Anya Anjirbag).

Full Review Members Only (569 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Exquisite character work, an elaborate mythology, and a spectacularly rendered universe make this a noteworthy debut, which argues passionately against fascism and xenophobia.

Booklist

Starred Review. Elloren learns to question authority and Gardnerian history, while developing real empathy for different races and species. Forest uses a richly imagined magical world to offer an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. This briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own.

Author Blurb Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author
I absolutely loved The Black Witch and will have a very hard time waiting for the second book! Maximum suspense, unusual magic--a whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!

Author Blurb Robin Hobb, New York Times bestselling author
The Black Witch is a refreshing, powerful young adult fantasy. This strong debut offers an uncompromising glimpse of world-altering politics amplified by a magical setting in which prejudice and discrimination cut both ways.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Sometimes Fantasy is More Real Than Nonfiction

Ask me with a gun to my head if I believe in them, all the gods and myths that I write about, and I'd have to say no. Not literally. Not in the daylight, nor in well-lit places, with people about. But I believe in the stories we can tell with them. I believe in the reflections that they show us when they are told. And forget it or ignore it at your peril, it remains true: these stories have power.
- Neil Gaiman, from Reflections on Myth

It is through fantasy that we have always sought to make sense of the world, not through reason…It is through the fictive projections of our imaginations based on personal experience that we have sought to grasp, explain, alter, and comment on reality. This is again why such staples as the...

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