Cover Image: The Year of the Witching

The Year of the Witching

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Member Reviews

Thank you Netgalley for this book suggestion!! 

I am so glad I read this one because anything with witches and the history of witches- I always find fascinating! 

Immanuelle is a strong willed woman and just a perfect example of pure feminism. Henderson has a perfect way of writing a strong female character and through her use of identity, gender, and time- the pacing of this story was brilliant and a great read. 

It almost brings me back to a modern day Crucible and if you enjoyed that classic- you will enjoy this one as well!!
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The Year of the Witching is such a powerful feminist read. Made to pay for the sins of her mother, Emmanuel is cursed from birth to live in a society that does nothing but down upon her because of her mother, skin color and gender. A society that favors the “Good Father” over the witchy “Dark Mother.” Where everyone repents for their sins but only women must pay the price for them. 

The atmosphere of the story was so dark, creepy and mystifying. I never knew what to expect next, from the Darkwoods to the people of Bethlen. I was fascinated by this Puritan-like society that knew witches existed. Think The Crucible mixed with The Handmaiden’s Tale but with darkness constantly hovering on the sidelines.

Emmanuel was such a strong women with kindness in her heart because like eff the people of Bethlen. She’s grown up in this cult-like society where she’s had to follow the flock and learn how to bit her tongue at the injustices she sees everyday. Women are treated horribly, paying for the sins of men daily but not even noticing. This is a book about Emmanuel discovering the power she holds within herself and deciding just who she wants to be.

There was some romance and it was simultaneously my favorite and least favorite part of this book. Not because it was bad but because I would have liked Emmanuel to do everything on her own. That being said though I loved Ezra. Growing up as a man and the chosen heir of the Prophet allowed him the freedom to think for himself and learn beyond the crap thrown at the flock. While I *slightly* complain about him helping Immanuel he never stood in her way and only assisted in the decisions she made. 

This was such a fast read that I couldn’t put down after that weird yet intriguing prologue. It’s a book that really deep dives into misogyny and what it means to be a man versus a women. The world building was so well done and that ending was epic yet open-ended. Henderson has an amazing debut on her hands that could be revisited with either a prequel or sequel that I would pick up in a heartbeat.
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Given how much I love witch stories based in feminism, I really, REALLY enjoyed THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING.  I thought that Henderson did a fantastic job of bringing in themes of gender, race, evangelism, and identity into this tale, and how they combined into a powerful and empowering center of a tense horror story. Immanuelle is a complex and enjoyable protagonist, as her place within Bethel is both cemented as her home and yet tenuous due to her race and her connection to her mother. Henderson balances the corruption of Bethel with the zealotry of the witches, and puts Immanuelle in the middle of it, and makes the reader wonder whether she will pick a side, or find another way. The fact that neither Bethel nor the Coven are fully right or fully wrong was a really refreshing take, as all too often nuance falls to the wayside in stories that have a lot to say about injustice. In these pages the reader has to do some soul searching just as Immanuelle does. Throw in some really well done horror imagery, a well thought out witch mythos, and commentary on women in a society that sees them as less than, and you round out this awesome YA book. 

I really, really loved THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING. Bravo to Alexis Henderson's witch tale, and I can't wait to see what kind of story she comes up with next!
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LOVED this book! This is gothic horror perfection. Phenomenal. Outstanding. Remarkable. I need this book NOW so I can highlight and underline and write in the margins and discuss with others in extreme detail. This is such a brilliant examination of religion, misogyny, and race. It may be set in a place like The Village with witches in the forest, but the parallels with our own society are so uncanny. And Immanuelle! Oh my gosh. What a fantastic character. And the way this novel was written was just...breathtaking. Whole chapters would pass by without a single dialogue exchange and yet I’m left haunted and gasping.
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The Year of the Witching begins with the birth of Immanuelle Moore and the death of her mother, Miriam.  Immanuelle was already fated to be an outcast - her mother had run away from the Prophet's village of Bethel.  Worse, she had taken up with an outsider of a different race.  Miriam's actions caused her once powerful father to lose his lands and his status, and  he suffered a stroke during Immanuelle's birth.  So Immanuelle is being raised by her grandmother and Anna, her sister-wife, helping to care for the younger children and taking care of the remaining lands they own.  Bethel is a puritan village headed by the Prophet.  As the young girls attain womanhood, they are marked with a sigil carved between their eyes and "married" to the Prophet who impregnates them as often as possible.  Immanuelle tries hard to conform to their society's standards - worshipping and devoting herself to the Father and living a life of complete conformity.  Something goes wrong and she's lured into the forbidden Darkwood.  Many years before, the first Prophet pursued and killed four young witches there and their spirits remain.  They gift Miriam's journal to Immanuelle.  As she reads it, she learns more about Bethel's history and its wicked origins and comes into her Gifts..  She spends more time with Ezra,the Prophet's son , falling in love to the dismay of the other available women.  Immanuelle and realizes that she has the power to change Bethel and bring it back to the kind, peaceful settlement it once was.
The Year of the Witching is an excellent debut novel.  It was well written, thoughtfully plotted, and the story was unique.  It reminded me of books like The Scarlet Letter, and the Crucible but was so much more interesting and easy to read.  I appreciate the chance to read the ARC.  This would be a great book for book clubs - there's so much to discuss.
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This is a phenomenal fantasy horror that would have been given the full 5 stars (instead of 4.5) if not for the ending, 

 which I felt [ did not live up to the rest of the novel. Basically, the villain (who is a literal child rapist) receives very little consequences in the name of "mercy", but it felt gross to me. Sure, some of the people who were just going along with everything deserve mercy.... but definitely not that dude.  

In addition, I wanted more nuance in the "wickedness" of the witch characters. Alas, these are very small, personal qualms about a novel that I finished in two days because I couldn't stop reading. Excited to see what Henderson writes next!

trigger warnings for: [ rape, domestic abuse, childbirth, body horror
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A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

I had no idea this was a debut novel. I went to the authors page looking for her past books, because The Year of the Witching is THAT good. It's compared to The Handmaids Take and it also reminded me a of The Grace Year. It's dark and eerie and kind of creepy at times. Alexis's writing is effortless and sets the perfect pace to read in one sitting.
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Blood. Blight. Darkness. Slaughter

	This was exactly the type of witchy and dark book that I had been looking for. It is a quiet sort of book, with most of its action saved for the end. 

	The Year of the Witching is about Immannuelle Moore, a young woman, and an outcast. Immannuelle begins the book naive and scared but has an amazing progression to a determined and strong person. 

	The book introduces a lot of inconsequential characters throughout the book, but the author wrote all of the characters amazingly. I do wish we had seen more of some characters, such as Abram, Martha, and Leah. 
	Judith was made out to seem like a major antagonist but ended up only showing up for like three or four scenes, and I wanted her to cause more trouble for our main characters. The Prophet is one of the best villains I have read about, he is well rounded and is not just evil for the sake of being evil, his end was well deserved. Ezra was missing some characterization but I love him. He tried to be protective but I love that he didn’t get in between Immannuelle and what she had to do. Now to Immannuelle, she has become one of my favorite characters. Her character arc was great to read about, and I love how strong she became.

	The writing was beautiful and atmospheric, especially anytime a character would go into the Darkwood. The imagery of the dark and disturbing scenes, especially those toward the end, only added to the creepiness and sense of foreboding that you feel throughout the book.
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The Year of the Witch mixes dark fantasy and horror with a heavy dose of societal commentary that could not come at better time. Alexis Henderson's debut novel was exactly the dark feminist fantasy that I needed in my life right now.

Touted as The Handmaid's Tale meets The VVitch, of course I jumped at the opportunity to read and review this one. I went in trying to keep my hopes to a minimum, and I am happy to say that this novel did NOT disappoint.  
Thank you so much to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing for the early access in exchange for my honest review!
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This is a great debut that combines the dystopian, patriarchal societies of The Grace Year and The Handmaid’s Tale with the witchy horror of Salem and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. In this puritanical society, witchcraft actually exists. It features a fictional religion that borrows some terminology from Christianity. The Year of the Witching addresses issues of gender, religion, and race, with people of color forced to live in the Outskirts.

Immanuelle has always been an outcast because she is the mixed-race child of disgraced parents who feels drawn to the forbidden Darkwood. When a series of plagues befall Bethel, Immanuelle realizes that she may be the key to stopping them.

This book is dark, atmospheric, and a little bit gory. The witches were downright creepy. The worldbuilding and character development was well done, and I especially liked Ezra’s character. The story follows a fairly typical arc for YA fantasy. I think the story could’ve been a bit longer because I had a few questions about some of the characters’ motivations toward the end.

While the story was satisfying, as with many dystopian novels, we don’t get a clear sense of closure at the end, and I am left curious about the world outside of Bethel.
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The Year of the Witching is a gripping and atmospheric book with so many fascinating themes. 

Immanuelle lives in a religious society ruled by a polygamous man called the Prophet. She was born of an illicit relationship between a local farm boy and a girl who was betrothed to the Prophet. When their secret love affair was discovered, he was burned at the stake and she bore his child and then fled into the Darkwood, home of a coven of witches. Immanuelle is now raised by her maternal grandparents and is close friends with Ezra, the son of the Prophet. But when she learns about terrible things that have happened both within the Darkwood and within her own community, Immanuelle realizes that she may be the only person who can face the darkness and save her community from ruin.

Wow - this was such a vividly told, evocative story. It did feel like one part historical fiction (the Salem Witch Trials) one part Handmaid's Tale (repressive, misogynistic society) and maybe one part Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Immanuelle was a strong character, the society she lived in was so creepy and repressive, and the dark pull of the witches and their power was so chilling. The last few chapters were cinematic - I can definitely see this as a movie or Netflix series!

If you love horror, stories about witchcraft, or just a well-told spooky tale, I definitely recommend this - if you're kind of a scaredy cat like me, it's not TOO terrifying. Just the right amount!
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It’s been a while since I’ve read truly good paranormal fiction, and The Year of the Witching is exactly the kind of fast-paced, terrifying, and witchy story I needed. The premise promises a deliciously dark and twisted tale of social revolution set in a dystopian world, and Henderson does not disappoint.

The child born of an illicit union between a dark-skinned Outskirter and the daughter of one of the apostles, Immanuelle Moore has kept her head down for years, quietly following the Holy Protocol like all the women in Bethel, and doing her best not to follow in the footsteps of her mother. However, during an accidental (or was it?) trip into the mysterious Darkwood, Immanuelle receives a gift from the witches residing there- her long dead mother’s diary. Immanuelle finds out that her mother had once sought the help of the witches to wreak vengeance on the Prophet for sending her lover to the pyre. As she discovers grim truths about the Church, for the first time, Immanuelle begins to really question the Scriptures and the rules people in Bethel have always put blind faith upon, and the religion that has led to the merciless killings of generations of innocent women.

Henderson blends the supernatural with the real, expertly and ingeniously using dark witchcraft, sigils, and magical plagues to weave in real world themes and issues like racism, the oppression and silencing of women, and religious abuse. Her prose is bewitching in itself, I just couldn’t get enough of her words. The narrative pulls you in right from the beginning and doesn’t leave any room for other thoughts in your head the entire time you spend reading this book. Even though the chapters are kept short, Henderson knows just where to end a chapter to keep you turning pages in nail-biting anticipation as you keep expecting the worst to happen.

The Year of the Witching is the best kind of horror/paranormal fiction, and not just because the bleak, eerie setup and the graphic depiction of the horrors of the Darkwood will haunt your dreams for days to come. The true horror of this story lies in the brutally honest way Henderson describes the atrocities committed in the name of religion and the cruelties of the society that’s complicit for never questioning or opposing the system, and in the somewhat detached way she talks of Bethel’s regular life surrounded by blood sacrifices and slaughters, of people being burned alive on pyres, young girls dying in childbirth, and the Prophet carving his mark on the forehead of every bride he takes; because these things are entirely commonplace for those living in Bethel.

The best thing about Henderson’s debut, however, is its iron-willed, multi-layered heroine. All her life, Immanuelle Moore has been abused and looked down upon for the dark colour of her skin that’s considered unholy, and she’s so real and human in a way not a lot of protagonists in fiction manage to be. As a female main character, Immanuelle is a breath of fresh air since she doesn’t begin as tough, rebellious, or gutsy and doesn’t reinforce the strong female character stereotype that makes you want to tear all your hair out. Yes, she sees the flaws in her society and yes, she’s dauntless in her quest to find the power within herself and free Bethel from the clutches of the true evil, but she’s also kind and introspective and vulnerable and deeply caring. I also loved the way Henderson handles complex family dynamics and explores Immanuelle’s various relationships, whether it’s the bumpy one she has with her grandmother or the budding friendship between her and the Prophet’s son, Ezra. There’s also a beautifully rendered and very well fleshed-out romance that you can’t help rooting for!

In conclusion, if you’re on the lookout for a strong, dark, and unapologetically feminist witchy story, this is a book you definitely want on your bookshelf! And if you’ve read and loved Moïra Fowley-Doyle’s All the Bad Apples and since finishing the book been in a state of utter despair because no other book will ever be that good (you’re not alone), I’m pretty sure The Year of the Witching is going to be your cure.
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Alexis Henderson delivered a debut that will tick many boxes for a wide array of readers. The Year of the Witching has elements of both horror and fantasy that are grounded in a society where women and marginalized citizens are meant to serve and maintain the status quo. Henderson's main character is imperfect, but this makes her more relatable as she goes on her search for justice. There were quite a few moments that made me physically recoil just from sheer scare factor and Henderson dances on the line of discomfort that keeps the audience rapt.
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Year Of The Witching By Alexis Henderson

I finished The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson at the beginning of the week. I immediately ran to my laptop, prepared to write my review. Then, I opened WordPress and became a babbling idiot. I lost all ability to word, vocabulary, and communicate. I tore through the thesaurus and then cursed it. Maybe I could write my review of Alexis Henderson's debut in elvish? No. I could not.

So, I slept on it. The next day? Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Today, I don't care if it takes the entire day, I'm going to write my tribute to The Year of the Witching. To accomplish this goal, I'm setting three essential bullet points that I need to accomplish. It might seem like common sense. However, ask anyone that has visited my site, and I don't believe that you will hear streamlined and straight forward as review descriptors. So, for me, this is pretty revolutionary. Here are my three guiding points:

Not spoil anything.
Without breaking #1, dissect how Alex Henderson has no right to have Year of the Witching as a debut. No debut should be legally allowed to deconstruct me on a cellular level.
Without breaking #1, manage, on some level, to convey why The Year of the Witching, and hear me out here, is an incredible Gothic Horror/ Occult novel. But, that is the tip of the literary iceberg of what Alexis Henderson has put into the world.
Don't Dismiss The Horror

Don't get me wrong. Right off the bat, Henderson put me at ease by letting me know that at the very least, The Year of the Witching would deliver on its promise.

A mangle of teeth and eyes and rendered flesh. The tulip of what might have been the creature's womanhood or perhaps an open mouth. Broken fingers and disembodied eyes with slits for pupils. Inexplicably, the ink still looked wet, and it rippled toward the edges of the papers as if, threatening to spill onto the bed, soak the sheets black.

And from there, Henderson ups the ante on the level of horror, not just through the graphic and inventive ways she utilizes witchcraft, sigils, and plagues. The palpable progression of paranormal horrors collide with those created by a patriarchal society, and compelling themes Henderson has been establishing throughout The Year of the Witching. It is at this intersection that Henderson's writing becomes intoxicating.

Horrors Of Reality

There are fantastic horror/occult books, and then there are fiercely, bravely written horror/occult books that take on more. It is what makes excellent fiction brilliant. It has all the shock value, all the entertainment value, and all the gore you want. Then while you are greedily gorging on that piece, there is another type of horror story being told.

That horror story is the one created by society. Year of the Witching equally pulls out all the stops on each front. And then effortlessly entwines them together without pulling punches, and is brutally honest. Yet, with all its intensity and social themes, never once did it feel preachy (except for when men used scripture to control, literally- and, well, that's the point).

That is quite the tightrope to walk, but Henderson walked it like a pro, which she isn't supposed to do, is she? After all, The Year of the Witching is Alexis Henderson's debut novel. How can this possibly be her debut novel? And we haven't even talked about Immanuelle yet. That's next.

Thank you to Ace for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Immanuelle: The Gold Standard

Flat characters, especially the main character, would put all this to waste. A strong main character is a must to pull this all together. In Immanuelle, Henderson has molded one of the most unflinching, courageous, and vehement female heroines in recent memory. I dare say that Henderson, in Immanuelle, has created a gold standard for female heroines with Immanuelle, and I will die on that hill. Immanuelle is strong, defiant, flawed, hated, abused, and oppressed. Immanuelle is also protective, merciful, just, and repentant.

What more can you put on Immanuelle? She is a woman in a Puritan society. Immanuelle is a Black/Biracial woman in a Puritan society. She is a Black/Biracial woman whose mother was exiled and disgraced because she cheated on the Prophet, in a Puritan society. She is a Black/Biracial woman whose mother was exiled and disgraced because she cheated on the Prophet, AND she's a witch, in a Puritan society.

As for the girls like Immanuelle - the ones from the Outskirts, with dark skin and raven-black curls, cheekbones as keen as cut stone- well, the Scriptures never mentioned them at all. There were no statures or paintings rendered in their likeness, no poems or stories penned in their honor. They went unmentioned, unseen.

And STILL, she wants to try and save Bethel. Would I?  Multiple times I noted in my Kindle- but why? Do you have to? Really? But, by the end of the book. I understood, with stunning, blinding clarity why (as the summary states), changing herself, was not enough. She had to start with herself but has to try and change Bethel, too.

In that clarity, through Henderson's damning dialogue, inner-narrative when Immanuelle comes to stand not just in her truth but in Bethel's truth. And in those moments, you stand side-by-side with Immanuelle. As the darkest pieces lock into place, and realization ignites her fervor and cracks your soul, for Immanuelle, for Bethel, and the knowledge that those horrors are still alive, and well today.

Just Saying

 I've pre-ordered the audible and the hardback because GIVE IT TO ME.  To be fair, if it becomes a part of a subscription box, I might replace the hardback with the subscription box.
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'The Year of The Witching' is a mysterious, creepy, and profound book. I adored reading it! Although I was captivated by the story, the underlying race and social issues made the book so hard to put down! Foremost I loved the style of writing and flourishing details of Alexis Henderson's writing.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the digital arc.
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I'm a huge fan of witches. Give me all the dark magic, witches confronting patriarchy. The Year of the Witching's has a terrifying setting - this rigid puritanical setting where faith is used to make excuses for women's exploitation and punishment. I have seen a few people comparing it to The Handmaid's Tale and I can absolutely see the comparison. It's one of those societies of self-policing, of nowhere being safe from prying eyes, and a mixture of conviction and eager hands ready to build pyres.

The setting was so powerfully done and it was more complex than just an awfully sexist and dangerous society. We were able to see the evolution of Immanuelle's character as the book progresses. The ways that this society, and a lot of other contemporary societies, give women the false belief in a perfect woman. A woman who will be able to live, if she just does the right thing, without reproach and in safety. When in reality, that society puts their inadequacies, desires, and burdens on their shoulders. It's a culture of fear and persecution - of punishments and blood.
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I received this free from Netgalley for honest Review. 

4.5 stars ⭐ ⭐⭐ ⭐💫

This is the first time reading from this author.

I really could say that this was great one. I love everything about this book. The words was just like yes give me more. I love the cover even more. Like OMG! 
Love never ends! 
What a great read! This had me hooked from the beginning. The sitting, theme, and the Characters had me pulled so in. Everything was well put together and it was just perfect. This novel did just that to me. 
Highly recommend everybody get this book and read it. Its so good!
Can't wait for the next book.
#netgalley #theyearofthewitching
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“Girl’s like you don’t last long in Bethel. Which is why you need to keep your head down if you want to survive this.” 

OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK!!  It is so incredibly well written and the story just hooks you in. I was only 10% in when I knew that I was going to really enjoy this book. This book is dark, bloody and very creepy but I was 100% here for it.

It’s set in a puritan society that learns towards being very cultish and of course is under the leadership of a corrupt Prophet.  The plagues that are the main plot of the book reminded me a lot of the show Sleepy Hollow which had the same dark and kinda creepy vibes. I’ve also seen other reviewers compare this book to The Handmaid’s Tale and the show Salem (which I haven’t read or watch but know enough to agree with those comparisons) 

I really liked Immanuelle.  I think her character develops so well through out the book. Towards the end she is very sure of herself and so willing to sacrifice herself to save the community that has turned their back on her (and her family) in the past. I also liked Ezra’s character and really wished he had been in the story a little more. 

But overall this book was AMAZING! So well written and it’s safe to say I have a new favorite author! 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an eARC of this book!

*I received an advance reader copy in exchange for a honest review*
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Blood, Blight, Darkness, Slaughter.

This book was EVERYTHING. It was a page turner and caught myself up reading it til 4am for two nights in a row with a huge thunder storm which was a perfect setting for this read. It was eerie, and chilling and I loved Immanuelle and Ezra. 

This book is about a young girl named Immanuelle who is cursed because of her mother and her sins and who dies giving birth to Immanuelle. Immanuelle lives in a small village which is very culty and the Prophet is their leader. The woods are dangerous and belong to the witches and the village is told to stay away from it but the woods and darkness calls to Immanuelle which leads her into discovering her true self & her past.

I want to thank Berkely publisher and Netgalley for allowing me to read and review this book. I enjoyed it so much I already preordered!
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The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Blood  Blight  Darkness  Slaughter...
Immanuelle Moore is a 17 year old girl  living in Bethel with her grandparents.  Bethel is a puritanical town where men are Prophets and Apostles and have many wives.  The women are there to serve.  Immanuelle is the child of Miriam who was burned at the stake for defying church law and witchcraft, and Daniel Ward, a farm hand from the Outsiders, the dark-skinned people who live and survive on the outskirts of Bethel.  When mysterious illnesses and disasters occur, Immanuelle seeks answers, only to find that she unknowingly is more involved in the plagues than she realizes.  Is she Bethel's savior or its destruction?

I loved this book and could not put it down!  It is like The Handmaid's Tale with a twist of Wicked Girls all in one.  Immanuelle is curious about life beyond Bethel but it is forbidden.  She excels at reading when most girls her age can barely read more than their names and a verse or two from the scriptures.    She sees the injustice evil that exists and the men (and women) who condone it and are silent as happens.  And Immanuelle has had enough.
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