“A massive page-turner that leaves readers longing for more! Our verdict: Get it.”
– Kirkus Reviews
An intoxicating tale of rebellion and star-crossed romance!
In this intoxicating tale of rebellion and star-crossed romance, 17-year-old Elloren Gardner enrolls at Verpax University to study healing.
Elloren’s grandmother Carnissa was a powerful Mage known as the Black Witch, who led Gardneria to victory in the Realm War. Some think Elloren will fulfill a legendary prophecy and follow in Carnissa’s footsteps, but though Elloren resembles the Black Witch, she possesses no magic.
Still, Elloren is hated by those on campus whose people Carnissa helped subjugate. Out of loneliness, Elloren befriends Verpax’s other outcasts, many of whom belong to races she’s been taught to fear or disdain.
She begins to question everything she knows about Gardneria’s history and culture, and realizes that there’s good reason for the growing opposition to her country’s new government.
Exquisite character work, an elaborate mythology, and a spectacularly rendered universe make this a noteworthy debut, which argues passionately against fascism and xenophobia.
Though the worldbuilding is initially dense, the pace and stakes increase exponentially, and the thrilling conclusion will leave readers eager for the next book in this series.
Publishers Weekly, starred review
“I absolutely loved The Black Witch and will have a very hard time waiting for the second book! Maximum suspense, unusual magic–a whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!”
“Forest uses a richly imagined magical world to offer an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice.”
Booklist, starred review
“This briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own.”
“The Black Witch is a refreshing, powerful young adult fantasy. This strong debut offers an uncompromising glimpse of world-altering politics amplified by a magical setting in which prejudice and discrimination cut both ways.”
“This very engaging YA series deals with difficult topics such as prejudice, hate, intolerance, and stereotypes of other cultures and races…And, yes, some characters have supernatural powers and there is also romance. I would love to see this book as a movie.”
“We fell under the spell of this rich, diverse, Potter-worthy university world!
Characters that come alive off the page, tangled relationships, swoonworthy romance!
Love the fresh way this also tackles prejudice. Prepare to fangirl!”
A massive page-turner that will leave readers longing for more.
This briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own.
Transported from her sheltered village life to join the diverse, magical student body at Verpax University, Elloren Gardner’s comfortable sense of history is challenged by living and learning alongside Elves, shape-shifting Lupines, and even feared, demonic Icarals.
In Gardneria, mages rule the land, brought to power by Elloren’s illustrious forebears, including Elloren’s magically powerful grandmother, The Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back enemy forces in the Realm War; however, a Gardnerian Seer predicts a new Black Witch will rise to battle a Great Winged One.
Yet although she’s the spitting image of Carnissa, with the black hair, glimmering skin, and green eyes characteristic of pure-blooded Gardnerians, Elloren appears devoid of magical powers in a society that prizes them.
Pressured by her politically powerful aunt Vyvian to be wandfasted to attractive Level Five Mage Lukas Grey, Elloren draws the ire of his jealous, would-be suitor Fallon Bane—another Level Five Mage rumored to be the next Black Witch.
At Verpax, Elloren must room with two Icarals and work alongside rainbow-hued Urisks and Kelts whose “blood is polluted” with other races’. But as Elloren slowly befriends her strange set of schoolmates (Lupine twins Diana and Jarod, Icaral roommate Ariel, and attractive and mysterious Kelt Yvan) she’s challenged to confront her own prejudices.
At book’s end, Yvan, Elloren, and the mysterious white wand she possesses brim with potential power. In Elloren’s tale, this briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own.