Friday 2 February 2024

The Black Witch

Finished January 29
The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

This is the first book in a high fantasy series set in a world similar to our own. The current political situation is only a couple of generations old and unstable. The main character is Elloren Gardner, a 17-year-old who has led a sheltered life. There was a major war going on when she was very young, with her grandmother Clarissa a heroine for the winning side. Gardnerians made a pact with the Elvish people to create a peace, but it came at a cost to many of the other ethnic groups around. Elloren's parents were killed in one of the final battles in the war and she and her brothers Rafe and Trystan were looked after by their uncle Edwin, who brought them up in a remote pastoral part of the country. 
Near the beginning of the story, Elloren is surprised by an announcement from Edwin that she will be joining her brothers at Verpax University, to study to be an apothecary like her mother. Her paternal Aunt Vyvian, at the core of the Gardnerian government is on an unannounced visit and wants to wandfast her to the son of a prominent family.
This is a land of magic, where children are tested for magic at a young age and then classified into ranking based on their magical ability. Many other nations of being have magic as well, magic unique to them. Elloren has been told that she doesn't have magic, but she suspects she might have a different sort of magic. 
As Elloren is immersed into a world of diplomacy, rivalry, and infighting and forced to deal on a daily basis with beings she has had limited to no contact with before, she must navigate this with limited help from others. 
She finds herself living with two others, one a being said to be evil incarnate, of whom no males are allowed to live, and the other a half breed that is outcast by most of her mother's people. She must earn her tuition with labour after refusing to bow to her aunt's will, and work in the kitchens with those who both hate and mistrust her. 
Worst of all, she is the spitting image of her warrior grandmother and people assume she is like her in all other ways as well. 
As Elloren meets individuals of different beings, she finds more in common with them than she does with some of her own people, and she finds herself making choices that will shape her destiny. 
This is a story of a world of prejudice, with a caste system, and betrayal between former allies. It is a world where some are trying to build bridges, while others are planning mass genocide. 
It is also a world of unpredictable magic, of dragons and elves, fae folk and werewolves. A world where maybe anything is possible. 
I found myself totally immersed in this book, and immediately placed a hold at my library for the next in the series. I'm looking forward to seeing what Elloren and her friends get up to next. 

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