Author: Laurie Forest
Genres: elves, fantasy, fiction, romance, young adult
Publisher: HarlequinTeen Australia
Publication Date: May 1, 2017
View Book At Goodreads
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.
I received a copy of The Black Witch from the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
Let me preface this by saying that I had no knowledge of the racism controversy this title has raised over on Goodreads until this afternoon when I went there to move the book from my ‘currently reading’ shelf to ‘unfinished’. So I am not going to touch that particular area very much at all. My reasons for not finishing The Black Witch are unrelated.
Plot-wise The Black Witch could have been really good, except there were parts that didn’t really make sense. For example: If Elloren’s aunt Vivian is such a powerful mage, how come she couldn’t sense the power that is apparently able to be sensed by a level-5 mage (who is a lower level than Vivian)? Why would you trust your brother’s word on whether she’d been properly magic-tested when you already dislike several decisions about the way he raised your niece in the first place? Why not just do it before you let her go to University?
The other thing that made me uncomfortable about the plot in The Black Witch was how religion-focused it was. And not in the good sort of way. It reminds me very much of the bad parts of much of the history of Christanity with the whole thing of anyone who isn’t us must be a heretic and therefore bad with a capital B. It also felt a little bit forced down my throat that Elloren’s race – based on her religion – are the superior one. (Hence the whole controversy on GR.)
Character-wise, none of them were particularly stand-outs. Elloren was made to seem too ‘I’ve lived all my life in the country and know no better’ and is horrified at everything but then just goes, ‘oh well, that’s how it is’ and doesn’t seem to think any further about it. Fallon is mostly just made out to be a real bitch, and that seems unfair to her as I’m sure being an extremely powerful female mage in a world where females aren’t supposed to be powerful isn’t very easy. Not to mention she’s from a military family full of brothers. And can we have a YA fantasy (or YA in general) that not every girl is falling over themselves or competing for the attention of one guy?
Overall I felt The Black Witch was, well, clunky. Way too long and quite frankly I got bored by the time she actually got to the University. The whole let’s get handfasted (ie. literally bound to each other in this case) after one meeting and a tiny make-out session was just weird and felt forced. The fact that Elloren looks like the splitting image of her ‘all-powerful’ dead grandmother but apparently has no magic (but what was that whole thing with identifying trees by touching wood and the fire thingy) and it’s just so terrible also got on my nerves very quickly.