The Year of the Witching

Ace: Berkley. Jul. 2020. 368p. ISBN 9780593099605. $26. HORROR
DEBUT In Bethel, the Prophet’s word is law; everyone submits to his strict rules and no one has seen the outside world. Immanuelle, an aberration and outsider living within the community, had a mother who fell in love with a man of a different race then disappeared into the forbidden woods. She returned to give Immanuelle birth before she died. Now on the cusp of adulthood, Immanuelle is drawn into the Darkwood herself, where she meets the spirits of the witches the Prophet violently preaches against. They give her a diary, written by her late mother, which opens Immanuelle’s eyes to a wider world. This dystopian tale is filled with witchcraft, family secrets, and folk horror elements that address themes of racial and sexual inequality head on. Immanuelle’s coming of age will keep readers glued to the page, wondering if she has the strength and power to save her community from itself.
VERDICT An exciting debut with the potential to appeal to a wide range of readers and fans of titles as varied as Jennie Melamed’s Gather the Daughters, Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, and Scott Hawkins’s The Library at Mount Char. It also joins a recent trend of witch-themed titles like the short story anthology Hex Life, edited by Christopher Golden and Rachel Autumn Deering.
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