The Black Witch: An Epic Fantasy Novel (The Black Witch Chronicles Book 1/ Review

“Potter-worthy.” —Justine magazine

“A whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Tamora Pierce

“Powerful” —New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb

“Exquisite.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.

A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining.

So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa’s heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally 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 an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up—It is one thing to be the granddaughter of Carnissa Gardner, the legendary Black Witch, but it’s another to be the spitting image of her. Elloren Gardner discovers this from the moment she is uprooted from her uncle’s secluded house and enrolled at Verpax University, which is rumored to be “racially integrated,” to Elloren’s great shock (Elloren shares her aunt’s opinion that the integration is “misguided”). While outwardly resembling a bildungsroman, albeit a fantasy one, this novel features a protagonist who remains naive for far too long and, unfortunately, is painfully slow to confront the racist attitudes that she has inherited and that are essential to Gardnerian dominance. By the book’s end, readers will wonder if she has learned anything at all. Teens will have to get through hundreds of pages of stereotypical characterizations of marginalized groups (non-Gardnerians are hateful and ultraviolent, their blood is “polluted,” they mate like animals, the non-Gardnerian women are trying to steal Gardnerian men, etc.) before Elloren begins to recognize that maybe Gardnerians are the bad guys in her realm. Although unlearning prejudices is a timely theme in YA, Forest handles this issue clumsily. In a particularly rough, tone-deaf scene, mean girl Fallon berates Effrey, a purple-skinned enslaved Urisk girl. Elloren eventually comes to the rescue, and Sparrow, another enslaved girl, approves of her actions with a smile—just one of the many white savior—like moments throughout. The world-building also leaves a lot to be desired: the Gardnerian creation story is an almost verbatim retelling of Genesis, and there are sporadic, vague mentions of martial arts and elemental spirits in this otherwise “Harry Potter” meets Tolkien universe. VERDICT Poor writing and character development contribute to an overall uneven handling of race and racism in a fantasy setting.—Della Farrell, School Library Journal

My Thoughts

I got this book because my book club choose it to read it for the month of September. At first I was a little hesitant, it wasn’t something I usually read but I gave it a chance. I am so glad I did too because I really fell in love with this series.

Before I started to read it I check in goodreads for others reviews and I was shocked to see how many people were against it because of the topic. Real life issues even when they are made into a fictional story tend to make people uncomfortable. I cant wait to read the other books on the series.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 bookstacks 📚 📚📚 📚📚


ABA Indiebound – Summer 2017 Kids’ Indie Next List Pick

“This briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own. A massive page-turner that leaves readers longing for more.” -Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Forest uses a richly imagined magical world to offer an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice.”
-Booklist, starred review

“Exquisite character work, an elaborate mythology, and a spectacularly rendered universe make this a noteworthy debut, which argues passionately against fascism and xenophobia.
-Publishers Weekly, starred review

“I absolutely loved The Black Witch and will have a very hard time waiting for the second book! Maximum suspense, unusual magic–a whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!” -Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“The Black Witch is a refreshing, powerful young adult fantasy. This strong debut offers an uncompromising glimpse of world-altering politics amplified by a magical setting in which prejudice and discrimination cut both ways.” -Robin Hobb, New York Times bestselling author

“We fell under the spell of this rich, diverse, Potter-worthy university world!
Characters that come alive off the page, tangled relationships, swoonworthy romance!
Love the fresh way this also tackles prejudice. Prepare to fangirl!”
-Justine magazine

“A powerful start to a new series, and a very impressive first novel.” -Locus

“This very engaging YA series deals with difficult topics such as prejudice, hate, intolerance, and stereotypes of other cultures and races…And, yes, some characters have supernatural powers and there is also romance. I would love to see this book as a movie.” – American Booksellers Association

About the Author

Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons and wands. She is the author of THE BLACK WITCH (Book 1.0, The Black Witch Chronicles), THE IRON FLOWER (Book 2.0), WANDFASTED (Book 0.5) and LIGHT MAGE (Book 1.5). Her upcoming book, THE REBEL MAGES (out Spring 2019), is a paperback edition of WANDFASTED & LIGHT MAGE bound together (which she’s pretty excited about!). Laurie is currently hard at work on Book 3.0, THE SHADOW WAND. Visit her realm at Visit The Black Witch Chronicles at

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