Cover Image: The Year of the Witching

The Year of the Witching

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Member Reviews

This was an excellent read and I need to keep my lights on for a while. There is so much to enjoy about this book, but the heroine's bravery remains one of my favorite aspects.
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The Year of the Witching is by far my favorite book of Fall 2020. I cannot believe how quickly the pace in this story started! Right from the first chapter I couldn't stop reading and it didn't let up until the last page! Phew! I fell in love with the atmosphere, the juxtaposition of the dark and mysterious woods with the extremely rigid confines of the village. As the story progressed and I got to see Immanuelle really lean into who she is while standing up to the rest of the community of Bethel she quickly became one of my favorite female characters I've met this year. I can see myself rereading this book every October just to take myself back to Bethel and that forest.
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This was so atmospheric! this was so creepy! This was SO GOOD. Although i think I'm not going to read more cult books because they're too creepy and this was almost too much for me. Like, I was angry, I felt claustrophobic, but you best believe that I CARED about these character and I was so invested in everything that was going on. WHEW. Will be looking out for more books from this author in the future.
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The Year of the Witching was a very different kind of novel. 

I wish I could write a longer review here, but I don't want to spoil the book and it's been a while since I've read it. 

At the very start you already know Immanuel is seen as an outcast because she was born as an illegitimate child. She lives in a place called Bethel, which is basically ruled by a crazy dictatorship by the Bishop.  

This story is a crazy ride, but basically she goes on an adventure to figure out who she really is. There are a lot of secrets, magic, and personal growth found in this one. 

I did struggle with some of the plot to this story, and the religious background found within the city of Bethel. The city just reminded me a lot of a cult and I wasn't really expecting that in a fantasy novel. The rest of the story had elements of magic, adventure, and some whimsy. 

Overall though, it was enjoyable. I would read a sequel to this for sure.
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The Year of the Witching was recommended to me by friends so highly that I just knew I was going to love it - and I absolutely did! This is a historical horror fiction book, and sometimes those can be hit or miss because it can be a little difficult to get invested in the story and its characters. With Year of the Witching, I didn't find myself having that problem at all! I was engaged throughout, and found myself wanting more. Really happy to hear this won't be a standalone!
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I am a member of the American Library Association Reading List Award Committee. This title was suggested for the 2021 list. It was not nominated for the award. The complete list of winners and shortlisted titles is at <a href="https://rusaupdate.org/2021/02/2021-reading-list-years-best-in-genre-fiction-for-adult-readers/">
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Definitely one of my top reads of 2020. 

The beginning intrigued me, it was eerie, dark, and so.... enchanting; I love books about witches, because, well, who doesn't? The magic aspects and word-building were fascinating to read about. I fell in love with the story, from the characters to the lush, velvet-y writing, it was all so hypnotizing. 

It reflected so much of society that it was almost scary? It captured my attention and DIDN'T let go which is everything I want in a book and more. I enjoyed this one so much. I'll rave about it to my friends once I get off my laptop. 

Such an amazing read, I can't wait to see what she writes next.
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Oh wow this was all kinda of awesome!

An outstanding masterpiece of imagery, it gives a totally new meaning to the words gothic and atmospheric

Alexis may become her own genre just like Neil Gaiman. And, like Gaiman’s, her style is so unique it wasn’t easy for me to read it. 

BUT I STILL LOVED IT

The world building is well.. Out of this world, alien but familiar at the same time, a surrealist painting of the real world. 

The plot moves slooow BUT WHO CARES???

The imagery was SO immersive and the social content so fantastic... it was a treat! 

REALLY GOOD!
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I loved this debut! Sometimes I have a hard time with historical-feeling books, but The Year of the Witching worked really well for me. I can't wait to read book 2!

CW - racism, animal sacrifice / deaths, misogyny, death during childbirth, abuse
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I loved this dark witchy book so much. I know a lot of people felt like it wasn't adult enough but it is so good trust me. It's dark and sometimes lacking but overall worth the read.
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I’ve been having all sorts of trouble with my reading these past few months. My powers of concentration seem to have gone on a permanent vacation and who can blame them? Even picking up a book seems like too much effort depending on the day but I am pretty damn thrilled to say that this book grabbed my attention from the beginning and held it all the way until the very end. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few uh oh moments of fear and worry here and there about the romantic interest busting in and saving the day but sometimes I worry too much. This book expertly tricks you into thinking it’s going down the same old worn-out roads but then it surprises you in the best of ways. This is a young adult horror novel done just the way I like them and features a strong, intelligent, and determined heroine. I don’t think you can go wrong here if you enjoy these things.

Immanuelle is a young woman living in an uptight, rigid, hypocrisy filled society with rules that benefit those in power. Sound familiar? Ugh! Her world is steeped in ritual and the mistreatment of women who dare to defy the rules. She’s at a disadvantage from birth, having been born a bit of an outcast and “cursed” and with a penchant for wandering into the dark woods after dark and accidentally stirring up trouble. I mean, who wouldn’t want to find a little solitude by running into those woods and away from all of the rules and the terrible townsfolk and dickhead churchy men?! I’m all for it. But her wandering stirs up a bit too much trouble this last time when she’s given a book that once belonged to her deceased mother and an unfortunate chain of events occurs that only she can stop. And she’s determined to stop it ALL ON HER OWN. I love that for her.

Trickery, witchery, and deceit abound! Who is friend, who is foe?! This book is filled with intrigue and adventure and it gets tense and worrisome and grounding it all is the excellent writing and the care the author takes with her main characters. As I mentioned, there’s a little love interest but he’s caring, thoughtful and his relationship with Imnanuelle adds to the story instead of taking over the story. That’s the huge difference here and one that I greatly appreciated. The atmosphere is simply perfection. When Immanuelle is deep in those woods you can almost smell the decaying leaves and feel the crunch of fallen branches under your feet and you might never want to leave because it is scary, yes, but also completely intoxicating. My only niggle is that the witches were made out to be such thoroughly evil creatures, I suppose after what was done to them it makes sense but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to know them just a little bit better.

I recommend this book with my whole heart and all the words that will not come to me today. It’s beautifully written and worthy of 4 ½ stars.

“Good people don’t bow their heads and bite their tongues while other good people suffer. Good people are not complicit.”
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I think what I enjoyed most about this book was the atmosphere. Its definitely a mix of The Handmaids Tails and the Salem Witch Trials. It was creepy and spooky and I loved every moment of it. The characters and the plot where really well written as well. I thought it was a really gripping debut! I can’t wait to see what we get next from this author.
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WHY DID I LISTEN TO THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING BY ALEXIS HENDERSON?
The Year Of The Witching by Alexis Henderson has a delightfully gothic cover. I wanted to prioritize reading this adult fiction debut. Typically when I want to prioritize something and get to it sooner, rather than later, I listen to the audiobook version. When I saw this book pop up on Libby, I was so thrilled. Plus, at the time that I listened – mid August – it helped to pump me right up for the Autumn season which is one of my favorite seasons.

WHAT’S THE STORY HERE?
Alexis Henderson’s The Year Of The Witching is a sort of dystopian, historical fantasy about a young woman named Immanuelle Moore. Immanuelle’s birth was illegitimate, her mother having conceived her with a man who was an outsider of a different race. To overcome this, Immanuelle tries her best to be obedient to the Prophet and live a virtuous life. However, Immanuelle ends up in the Darkwood. Which is where four witches were killed and she is gifted the journal of her mother. As it turns out, her mother used to escape to the Darkwood as well. The diary reveals many truths to her, including that her mom 100% consorted with witches, but also her settlement, Bethel, is kind of shady. There’s definitely evil lurking within and Immanuelle must change to begin to change the Church and Bethel.

WHAT DID I THINK OF THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING?
The Year Of The Witching is a perfect read to get you into a fall/Halloween mode. Also, I just want to say that I love that this book stars a character of color. I feel like the spooky fall reads that I enjoy do not have enough Black characters as main characters and well, I am pretty sure that Black people enjoy fall too. Alexis Henderson’s book is atmospheric and it didn’t take me long to feel an immediate sense of place and time while reading. The pacing is pitch perfect. Different elements are revealed at poignant moments. This kept my attention completely while listening.


HOW’S THE NARRATION?
The audiobook of The Year Of The Witching is narrated by Brianna Colette. Colette does a wonderful job conveying atmosphere, character, and urgency. The audiobook is 11 hours and 37 minutes. It is an excellent listen that I cannot recommend enough. I know that I will be back to listen to the next book from Henderson and absolutely recommend you get this book – but especially when you’re in a spooky mood.
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Some folks won't pick up historical fiction books for fear of repeating tropes.  That is SO not the case with The Year of the Witching.  Fresh and terrifying.  You won't be able to put it down!
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I absolutely fell in love with this book - this is a must read if you love fantasy, salem witch trials, magic, and a little romance thrown in. The close knit society with heinous secrets is also an intriguing theme throughout!
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The Year of the Witching 
BY Alexis Henderson

What an amazing and engrossing read I loved!

Set in a dystopian world of Bethel, Alexis Henderson delivers an intriguing and addictive read full of twisty paranormal and supernatural read with themes like racism, power and religious oppression underneath this dark and terrifying read. Henderson definitely wrote amazing characters and the world building incredible. I truly enjoyed this puritan witch fantasy novel and glad to have read this with a group buddy read for the wonderful and thoughtful discussions. Such a fun read to pick up! Don't miss this if you enjoy powerful witches, cults, revenge and of course family secrets.
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I really enjoyed reading this book. The character development was subtle in a myriad of ways, and the plot moves along quickly enough to keep interest. I could have used a little more expansion around the ending of the book, but on the whole found the experience very enjoyable.
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**I received an advanced reader’s copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

A remarkable debut novel. Set in a polygamous puritanical society, this novel combines horror and fantasy into an engaging and terrifying story. Immanuelle Moore lives with the knowledge that her mother visited the forbidden Darkwood and broke many covenants and laws of Bethel. Yet, Immanuelle feels a certain draw to the forest, where the witches live. One chance encounter in the forest opens a gateway into evil and devastation. 

I devoured this book. Henderson writes like a seasoned author, with entrancing prose and a diabolically enticing plotline that makes the reader have to see what happens next. Immanuelle grows so much within the pages of the book, and the descriptions are so rich and memorable. A truly fascinating book, and one I will enthusiastically recommend to those who enjoy books with witches, horror, ghost stories, and books that critique patriarchal societies.
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Was included in the column "The best science fiction and fantasy of the year so far — plus what we’re looking forward to next" published via The Washington Post, July 2020.
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Solid 3.5

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.
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