The Black Witch by Laurie Forest, was supposed to be my hot date on a Friday night but it ended up being a blind date gone awry. One thing that gets me going is a long ass book, and I was so excited to dive into this one (hello check out the endorsement from Tamora Pierce on the cover) but very quickly it became apparent that The Black Witch was not going to be anything like what I anticipated.
Goodreads Synopsis: "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."
Let's start with the good. Laurie Forest is a fantastic writer when it comes to style. She built a world so compelling I did not like 90% of its inhabitants.
Now for the bad, this book is slow going which would be fine if the payoff at the end was worth it and sadly that's not the case in The Black Witch. Elloren aka Ren our protagonist is seemingly on what would be a redemption arc but its so poorly executed I found myself wishing she would be killed off or knocked upside her head once or twice more by the other kitchen workers at Verpax University.
At one point, Ren allows her pseudo boyfriend/stalker/boss/companion dude to intervene in a dispute and he does so by threatening to send a child off to labor camp to meet almost certain death. CLASSY.
I get it the author's goal was to present a world so blinded by their religion and prejudice that they could not see the truth of the world around them BUT Ren was so unlikable for so long it didn't matter that she eventually (sort of) came around. Her favorite class for most of the book is the class with only Gardnerian students and a full tea service, essentially a revisionist history class, and she feels little to no remorse for murdering her roommates pet chicken, and tells her **SPOILER ALERT** gay brother to keep his sexuality secret because its "too dangerous". All of this would work out to be a great redemptive arc for her if she turned the corner quicker but by the time she'd grown even a little bit as a character I had her firmly in my dislike column.
I'm curious to see if things change in then next book in this series but would want to wait till I can snag it at the library.
Would I recommend this book? ...maybe... 2.5/6 stars ⭐️ ⭐️
Snag a copy on Amazon today and let me know what you think! https://amzn.to/2p0YW21