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The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

Started reading The Black Witch this past week and haven’t been able to put it down.  What’s surprised me the most is my apparent enjoyment of YA Fantasy novels at the moment.  Particularly witchy and magic related YA.  This is a genre I was not prepared to like but am, in fact, having a great time with.  The books are easy to read and in a strangely easy way complicated enough to hold my interest.

The Black Witch starts off with Elloren Gardner, the granddaughter of a very powerful witch, standing in a forest with her uncle when for the first time she handles a wand and the forest catches on fire.  She’s a young girl and following the directions of her uncle.  They run out of the forest and she’s told that what she remembers from that day is only a nightmare.  But is it really?

After picking up the book I became aware of the controversy.   Being someone who does not shy away from controversy I chose to continue.  Pardon my honesty but if we were to remove every controversial aspect of a book we would be left with some very dry reading and no one wants that.

The novel takes place in a fantasy world in the very distant past and judging by the manner of dress of the characters I would say it’s in the Victorian Era, at a time when racism and discrimination were the norm.  Why wouldn’t we explore those issues as well as all other issues of the time when writing about that time?  Just because it’s fantasy there’s no reason to ignore the problems we had back then and figure out ways to not repeat them.  There is also a lot of powerful women in the story and I’m not seeing the people commenting on the racist issue commenting on the power that women have been granted.  Maybe things will change as I get deeper into the book.   Yes, there are things that happen between men and women which in our world and our time would present a problem and would make my blood boil, I am also able to put the story in perspective of the era to which it’s referring….. anyway.

If I were to say one negative thing about this book is the amount of description.  Sometimes it can go on for pages but I’m assuming it’s because it’s the first book of a series and the world needs to be set up so as to allow the reader to better understand and navigate though the story in the other books.  Still I can’t help thinking that it could have been handled differently – – I’m not a writer yet, so I’m not going to judge.

I’m only 28% through it (reading on my kindle) and yesterday I was glued to it.  I even picked it up between meetings at work.  I expect to be finished with it by the end of the year and will update you.