Book Review: The Black Witch
Updated: Jan 21
The Black Witch: An Epic Fantasy Novel
(The Black Witch Chronicles)
By: Laurie Forest
A Book Review
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.
Now I’m going to tell you the good, the bad, and my final thoughts on the subject.
The world-building. Being that this is a novel in the first person POV and given the mentality of the protagonist, the world around her (Elloren), comes off biased at first, but there are scenes that tell of different cultures in a way to get a more objective view. Learning about all the different races and how each race views the world was done.
The characters. There are some really enjoyable characters in this book. Granted, you have to get at least halfway through it to find them, but they’re there. Such as Elloren’s brothers Rafe and Trystan. The Lupine characters and the male Amaz.
The Romance. Not the love that the MC feels, but that of the side characters. They’re healthy and respectful. Full of true love. It’s just unfortunate that they live in a world that doesn’t want them together.
This book is a slow burn. It’s a fantasy novel, with magic and werewolves and dragons, but you don’t get any of their awesomeness until you’re near finished with the book. Instead, you get chapters of history and mathematics. I graduated high school a long time ago Ms. Forest, I don’t want to go back.
Elloren Gardner, I know this is about her redemption, but she’s painfully naïve. Half the time I forgot she was eighteen. She makes repeated horrible decisions, enlisting the help of a guy a second time when she knew the outcome was questionable and despite knowing how terrible her decisions were, tried to defend them.
The first characters that you really get to know are just awful, even more so in comparison to Elloren and I feel that was done so that the readers can be more forgiving when Elloren finally decides to be a good person. You don’t get or deserve brownie points because you’re not as bad as the others.
There are so many things that get hinted at in this book, from Elloren’s magic, to who and what Yvan is. I understand, giving a bit of information to keep the readers turning the page and that this book is a series, but I felt that the author made such a big deal about it, that it should have been answered in the book. The dragging it out is what will keep this book to a slow pace rather than focus on the plot she seems to set around a revolution.
Echo Flood. This one is just my extreme opinion, but that is the name of a character, and when I read it, it made me want to fling my phone (reading on my Kindle app) across the room. I kind of hate the author for it.
I read this book off the back of a controversy. Not review controversy, like Carve the Mark, but from the travesty, that is this lady’s article. http://www.vulture.com/2017/08/the-toxic-drama-of-ya-twitter.html
First of all, calling out a book for being problematic is not toxicity. People have a right to criticize books that are distasteful and harmful. That is the point of reviews, it’s not going to be all sunshine and daisies.
Secondly, talking in your article about protecting some people’s identities, but blasting others without their permission, promotes the so-called drama you’re trying to tone down. Congratulations, you’re a hypocrite.
Lastly, this is for the reviewers. You’re taking the content of this book and many others too far. There have been books that have been called out, only to turn out to be a misinterpretation on the reader's part.
Are the characters in this book racist? Yes. Do the racist characters think it’s okay to think like that? Yes. Is the book and by extension, the author, saying it’s okay to think like that? No. This book is about a girl, who realizes the way she was raised was wrong. Are all the characters going to come to this conclusion? No. That’s just reality, which art tends to reflect.
If you’re tired of reading racist redemption arcs and you know people who feel the same, it’s okay to feel that way, and it’s okay to make that claim in your review. What’s not okay is to make the claim that this book sets out to hurt anyone. I know, and I’ve seen some reviewers say, they mean no harm, but it’s harmful to me. It’s about the execution, well, yours isn’t that great either. The mentality that because you’re offended that everyone should be offended, is ludicrous.
The Black Witch’s narrative is racist because the narrator is racist and she’s racist because that’s how she was raised and though it takes the whole book, she learns better. The book isn’t out there to make people racist or to okay racist behavior, and it’s definitely not out to say that people who are different are inferior.
If narratives like that hurt you, yes, say so, warn others who may feel the same, but the censoring, the demand to pull books that dare take on that narrative, that’s got to stop.
OVERALL RATING: Meh