High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.
It’s all a fake.
At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?
But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—
Are about him.
Why I Read This:
I have had my eye on this book for quite some time. I was granted access to a review copy as part of my participation in the Witchlanders blog tour.
This book also counts as part of the 2011 YA Debut Author Challenge.
This was one of my favourite fantasy reads this summer. It had been a long time since I'd read anything fantasy that wasn't paranormal and I found Witchlanders to be a very refreshing read. In a world of young adult novels where almost everything new, popular, and with a marketing budget big enough to get noticed most of what I find is either paranormal or dystopian. I like those books. But. I was so happy to have something magical set in a world not our own for a change. Something that is new and exciting.
The Witchlands and the Bitterlands were so very interesting to read about. Ryder's mother belives in prophecy, at least she didn't used to, but now that she has been taken the hallucinagetic flowers she is throwing her bones, frantically trying to see how things will pan out. There are witches that are the hands of the goddesses and when Mabis discovers a dark force at work she attempts to enlist their help. This does not go well. Because of their refusal to help, Ryder is thrown into a battle with the witches and makes it his duty to go and seek the assassin from the Bitterlands who has thrown his town into chaos.
And then we get Falpian. I adore Falpian! Okay, I adore Ryder and Falpian. However, Falpian was a bit more of a mystery. I just never knew exactly what he would decide to do and that made him a little more fascinating to me. I also thought he was a more interesting character in that he seems evil at first and then Lena Coakley throws all these things at the reader to make them question whether that is true or not. Learning about the Bitterlands and the previous war between the two sides was really eye opening and ended up sucking me right in to the story. I loved seeing Ryder's and Falpian's relationship develop through all the verbal fights and adventure that they went through together just because the two sides are not at peace.
The story gets even deeper the more you get into it. There is some really big revelations that the two find out about their cultures. I could say more but at the risk of going on forever, I will just say, the imagination and writing of this book is superb. It always seems to show when an author has put extra effort into creating unique senarios that not only stand out but that fit the story and world to the letter. Often something that feels like a twist or huge revelation in the plot can feel like it came out of nowhere. With Witchlanders I was often thinking "How did I not see that?" or in the case of the way she has made magic work, "How come I've never thought of it working this way before?" I am in love with the singing stones. Another reason to be fascinated by the Bitterlands.
Overall I was really taken with Witchlanders. This is one of those books that had me thinking about it long after it was finished. I hope to see much more of the characters and learn more about the world in the future. And Lena has said on her website that she doesn't know if she will be given the opportunity to do that. So here is my plea to Lena's publishers: Please, please let Lena publish another Witchlanders book! I will buy it. I promise!
Temporary ecopy (Adobe Digital Editions) from publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.
Waiting on Wednesday: Witchlanders
Teaser Tuesday: Witchlanders
Witchlanders Blog Tour: Captioned! featuring "Falpians Magic" by Lena Coakley