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The Year of the Witching

The Year of the Witching

Book - 2020 | First edition
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"A young woman living in a rigid, repressive society discovers dark powers within herself, with terrifying and far-reaching consequences, in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut. In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet's word is law, Immanuelle Moore's very existence is blasphemy. The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement. But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood. Fascinated by secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Ace, 2020
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780593099605
Branch Call Number: F HENDE-A
Characteristics: 359 pages ; 24 cm


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WPL_Erin Mar 04, 2021

I really enjoyed this! Such an interesting concept and characters that you can really connect with and feel for. The story had this really subtle uneasy undertone to the whole thing that made you feel a little off, but in a good way.

Character wise I really loved Immanuel and everything that she stood for. Her family dynamic was really interesting and I would die for Abram. I think he had to be one of my favourites with his quiet stoicism, strength and love for his family.

However I was left with feeling a bit unsatisfied but I can't quite put my finger on why. Only that I just wanted a bit extra in terms of the story. I would have liked to have seen a bit more magic, and I do feel as though the end was wrapped up a bit too quickly but all in all I enjoyed the book.

WPL_Jaclyn Feb 25, 2021

The Year of the Witching is a dark and creepy novel set in the claustrophobic Bethel, where women are relegated to a lesser place in society due to a past history of witchcraft. Our primary character, Immanuelle, is an outsider, and one of her biggest "sins" is her draw to the darkwoods. This leads Immanuelle to be branded a witch, but it also forces her to confront longstanding issues within her community. The atmosphere of this novel was amazing! Listening to the audio kept me on the edge as Immanuelle skirted closer to the truth about the witches, her past, and her own imminent danger. This one will absolutely appeal to Mexican Gothic fans. While The Year of the Witching doesn't focus on a haunting, the theme of a young woman struggling against an older man grasping to decaying power most definitely relates.

Feb 12, 2021

“.......While his daughter screamed in the midst of labor, Abram was struck by a stroke so violent it remade him, twisting his limbs and warping his bones and muscles, stripping him of his strength and stature, as well as the power of his Holy Gifts. And as Miriam struggled and labored and slipped into the afterlife, so nearly did he......”
When reading a book gives you goosebumps, that is a true sign of very promising journey ahead....and, it didn’t disappoint!
“True evil wore the skin of good men. It uttered prayers, not curses. It feigned mercy where there was only malice. It studied Scriptures only to spit out lies.”
“ And on that day, when the dark has passed and the sun has risen again, the sins of deceivers will be brought to light and the truth will emerge from the shadows.”

Feb 05, 2021

This was a dark slow burn for me. At times I wanted to put it down; other times, I wanted to read until morning. I'd never read a Puritan-based fantasy before. The world was beautiful and haunting, and by the end, I didn’t know what was scarier: the “dark” aspects of the novel, or the rigid, unforgiving society Immanuelle finds herself in.
What kept me from immersing myself in the book was how the backstory was unloaded. I felt like the book often got sidetracked by lengthy explanations—sometimes mid-conversation!—and sometimes for a few pages. I must admit, it was difficult to get back in the game after that. To give an example, there was a chapter that described how Immanuelle was walking to the livestock district to sell a ram, and it went something like this:
- Immanuelle walks and sees beggars from the Outskirts (5 pages on the plight of the Outskirters, which then traces back to a saint named Abdiah, the Holy War, and other details I've forgotten. However, because it's relatively early on in the book, I haven't really started caring about Immanuelle yet, let alone this entire history that seems very well thought out but poorly timed)
- Immanuelle reaches a bookstall. (lengthy explanation about her schooling and her experience with books/reading. It doesn't actually show her reading; it tells the reader that she likes to read, and this goes on for a while)
- Immanuelle starts reading poetry about the ocean. (quick info dump about how she had never seen the ocean before. At this point, I just want her to get to the livestock district)
- Immanuelle has no money to buy the book, so shopkeeper suggests trading the ram. (quick info dump about how poor her family is and what trading the ram would mean. Again, important stuff, but badly placed)
- Shopkeeper suggests her necklace instead. (quick info dump about where she got the necklace; somehow it swerves into her sisters' schooling background. At this point, I've lost the thread of the story)
Basically, it felt like I read 15 pages in which the following happened: She walked, picked up a book, did not buy the book.
I think the main problem for me was that the book had a hard time staying in the present. I really wanted to care about Immanuelle, but it was hard when I kept getting catapulted into the past—and not even necessarily her past. The second half was much better in terms of pacing and story, but it wasn't enough to overcome how I felt about the first half. Some readers may enjoy lengthy descriptions and side explanations, but I needed more reading stamina to get through them.
Overall, I think Year of the Witching was a decent read. I did enjoy finding out more about Immanuelle's world, and the book was generally well written—it just wasn't for me.

STPL_JessH Jan 12, 2021

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson is a nuanced adaptation of the classic good versus evil narrative. It contains an astutely imagined alternate reality that is markedly close to our own in the most terrifying ways. I feel like the best way to describe this book is as a "winter beach read." The writing is light and flows well yet the themes are dark and ominous thus a "winter beach read."

I really appreciated the richness with which Henderson describes key spaces and places. I mean we have witches and magic and fatal forces in the forest. What more could we ask of feminist fantasy fiction?! Well, a sequel to be released this year!

Jan 07, 2021

I think I would describe this book's genre as more of a horror/adventure book. It is deliciously macabre, feminist, and action-packed. Gruesome, a little suspenseful, a possible romantic partner that is more a partner and side-kick than savior, this book was a treat. The MC wasn't the damsel in distress and was instead competent, intelligent, and took initiative when it mattered most.

Beware, there are some bad witches in these pages!

Listen to the audiobook- the narrator is great!

Dec 16, 2020

I really enjoyed a good portion of this book but as I got closer to the end, it started to lose favour with me. By the end, I was just done with it and I don't think I can pinpoint why. I just seemed to get bored with the story. Don't let that put you off if you think this book is in your wheelhouse because I did enjoy the book for the most part and plenty of other people have loved it.

Oct 28, 2020

An epic debut novel by Alexis! Her Storytelling style is rich, inclusive, thrilling, and compelling. With the inclusion of race disparity within the misogyny and classism we get perhaps for the first time a book that is truly intersectional and 21st century. This page-turning into the wee hours, grab your mind & heart read is a must for everyone who values provocative & timely Feminist Fiction and or Dark Fantasy.

TSCPL_Miranda Oct 12, 2020

The Year of the Witching is a dark fantasy with stunning, cinematic horror scenes and an intersectional feminist focus. The story takes place in Bethel, a theocracy ruled by a powerful prophet. Immanuelle ranks quite low on the hierarchy, even for a female. Before Immanuel’s mother died, she disgraced herself by falling in love with one of the dark-skinned residents on the fringes of society. Immanuelle is the child of that love.

To make matters worse, the Prophet had chosen Immanuelle’s mother as one of his many young brides, so her love affair became a matter of politics. Her beloved was executed, and her whole family lost status, relegated to a small house and a hardscrabble existence. Years later, teenaged Immanuelle works hard to do her part for her family, although she longs for books to read, often goes to bed hungry, and wishes for answers no one is willing to give.

The Darkwood that surrounds the community is forbidden territory. It’s said to be plagued by evil witches that mean harm to all the good citizens of Bethel. Immanuelle feels as though she is being called to the shadows beneath the trees, but she tries to ignore the whispers in her mind. She accidentally goes beyond the tree line one day when she’s chasing an escaped ram. In the Darkwood she uncovers long buried secrets and curses, foretelling a path of blood and carnage for the community. With the help of the Prophet’s rebellious son, Immanuelle risks everything to save the innocents of Bethel from the curse and Bethel’s broken system.

RandomLibrarian Jul 22, 2020

Review excerpt: "'The Year of the Witching' is a very, very good book. It’s unsettling and horrifying, beautiful and incisive, and ultimately, radiantly triumphant. As it centers on a religious dystopia and has feminist themes, it has already been compared to the 'The Handmaid’s Tale'. This is not an inapt comparison; however, I think in tone and setting it reads much more like Nathanial Hawthorne, but as written by a woman living in 2020. In the vein of Hawthorne, it is jam-packed with creepy religious rites, rumoured devil-worship, witchcraft, and a pervasive sense of mounting dread. This book delivers big time on all of the hair-raising quasi-Christian supernatural horror that I need in my life."



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