Disclaimer: I read this book after Sci-Fi masterpiece Dune, so keep that in mind.
- Title: The Year of the Witching
- Author: Alexis Henderson
- Genre: Horror, Paranormalcy, Fiction
- Type: Paperback
- Pages: 359
- Publisher: Ace
- Published in: June 15th, 2021
Put The Year of the Witching on your Goodreads shelf.
Immanuelle lives in Bethel with her grandparents, her aunt Anna and her nieces Hope and Grace. One day she is supposed to sell the family‘s ram, which escapes from Immanuelle‘s grip and flees into the supposedly cursed Darkwoods. The girl follows the ram and experiences something that brings Bethel the plagues. To stop them from happening, Immanuelle has to figure out who she really is.
The Year of the Witching sets the mood right: a village in which a priest reigns, surrounded by his Harem of women; sudden paranormal happenings, followed by various plagues. A heroine, whose mother dies at her birth, stumbles into her destiny blindly. A potential love interest that is loyal but situated in the team of the enemy. It all sounded promising for a good spooky Halloween read and in my opinion, it was a good, spooky Halloween read.
Usually, I like to compare my spooky reads with Stephen King novels, since his work is basically all the spooky books I read. But this time the cover and the blurb of The Year of the Witching convinced me to try another author for Halloween time. Also, I can‘t compare both books, since Stephen King is adult horror and Alexis Henderson is Young Adult horror – it‘s still gory but with far less details. Which isn‘t necessarily bad and can be more helpful for people who might be sensitive but still enjoy some level of horror. King can be too much sometimes.
What I liked about The Year of the Witching is that it threw me back to some old fashioned „burn the witch“ horror movie vibes with some mysterious elements. It is not clear what is going on in the beginning, and Immanuelle, the heroine, is figuring things out, alongside the reader, step by step. She seems to be a believer of god, although her beliefs seem to shift from time to time, which confused me. Either you still belief or you don‘t, but don‘t shift loyalties whenever you like. Also, later in the plot, there were situations with Immanuelle where I couldn‘t believe that she was naive, still at this point. That wasn‘t sitting right with me, since I felt like character development was taking a step back.
Coming to one of many enemies of Immanuelle in this book, the priest, who is more or less the head of the village – of his so called „flock“ – was a truly disgusting power-hungry (and what I believe) white old man who needed to marry young women just for his amusement. He prayed this logic to be for a higher cause, but what really is the necessity of having dozens of women married to you, especially if you abuse them? I couldn‘t decide if the witches or the priest were the worst enemies. Also, the priest needs a trigger warning: if you‘re sensitive to abuse or low-key pedophilia, you might find this book uncomfortable.
I need to honorably mention the so called love interest – or love beginning (?) of Immanuelle. Ezra, one of the priest’s sons and to-be successor is set up to be it pretty early in the book and it‘s very obvious as well. There is not a lot happening with these two, it‘s more like a set-up for the second book.
What did I not like about the book? Well, it‘s been a bit „easy“, typically YA sentence structures I just noticed that heavily because after a complexe structured book like Dune – non YA. The atmosphere was definitely there, but I could have been a bit more complexe book. The themes are there and from what I‘v heard, there‘s going to be a second book that will dive into the universe of Immanuelle deeper. So let‘s see what that one will bring because I‘m interested to see what Alexis Henderson is doing with this world.
I give 4 out of 5 stars to The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson since it‘s been a solid, spooky read, yet it hasn‘t totally excited me. I liked to pick it up and read it, but it to be a solid 5, a more complexe world building would have been appreciated.