“Good people don’t bow their heads and bite their tongues while other good people suffer. Good people are not complicit.”

Alexis Henderson, The Year of the Witching

Publisher: Ace
Publication Year: 2020
Page count: 368 pages
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 3 stars
Rep: Black author, Black/Mixed race MCs

Blurb (From Goodreads):

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.

I initially picked up this book because it sounded absolutely perfect for October, which it definitely was. The atmosphere of this story was very dark and mysterious. This book follows Immanuelle, a mixed race girl who is navigating life in Bethel, where their leader, The Prophet, has essentially turned their homeland into a religious cult. Immanuelle’s mother was known by the people for being a witch, and Immanuelle has seen first hand how dangerous witchcraft is. However, she can’t help but feel like she is being called to The Dark Wood, where witches are known to reside.

Immanuelle was an interesting character to read about. Growing up without a mother or father, she was desperate for a connection that would teach her more about her family’s dark past. Throughout the novel, it was fun to watch her go from an innocent shepherdess to a fearless leader. She has always struggled to fit in, because she doesn’t buy everything the prophet is saying. Furthermore, since Immanuelle is mixed race, she can’t help but feel out of place in town as well as the Outskirts where the Black citizens in Bethel mostly reside.

I also enjoyed reading about Immanuelle’s relationship with her best friend, Leah. Leah is definitely a tragic character that will pull on your heartstrings. I felt like their friendship was genuine and it didn’t feel fake. I also liked that this book was not super heavy on the romance. Throughout the novel, we didn’t see too much of the love interest, and when we did he was always acting like a friend to Immanuelle.

The main reason my rating is not higher is the plot. The pacing was not very even. It started out super strong, but towards the middle I got a bit bored. I thought this would be a 2 star read, but the ending did pick up and was exciting.

This is also a great “horror” novel for those who don’t like to be scared! I originally thought it was categorized as a fantasy, and it wasn’t until after I rated the book I saw it was shelved as a horror novel. I personally would say it’s fantasy, because although there were one or two creepy scenes, there was nothing that will keep me up at night, which is good because I don’t like to be scared!

This was a great atmospheric read, and I did overall enjoy it, even if it wasn’t my favorite ever. The author’s website says a sequel will becoming out in 2021, and I would definitely be interested in reading it!

4 thoughts on “Review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

  1. Pingback: The Liebster Award
  2. I gave The Year of The Witching 3 stars because I wholly expected this to be a lot darker and macabre. I think the ending was the most interesting part. I liked the author’s prose but I wasn’t enjoying the plot and characters.

    Liked by 1 person

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