Cover Image: The Year of the Witching

The Year of the Witching

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Member Reviews

Bethel is a religious settlement, and Immanuelle Moore is the embodiment of blasphemy. Her mother had a relationship with an outsider of a different race, disgracing her family. As a result, Immanuelle sought to praise the Father and conform in order to prove to the community that she was like all of the other women in the settlement. She stumbled into the Darkwood where the prophet had killed four witches in the past, and their ghosts grant Immanuelle powers and her dead mother's diary. Immanuelle soon realizes that there is a darkness in Bethel, and she has to be the one to help change the community.

The leaders of Bethel, from the Prophet to his Apostles, all are older white men with multiple wives. They're racists and misogynists as well as polygamists, making sure girls can't read, and know only the history of their community. The sole purpose of women is to bear children, keep house, and glorify the men. The Outsiders at the edge of their community are looked down upon and treated badly, so by extension Immanuelle is treated that way at times by most of the people. She also internalized it, so that she never would have looked into her paternal family if the circumstances hadn't changed.

While the subjugation of women and the willingness to be complicit in that to keep power is openly derided as terrible by the text, so is revenge. The secrets kept by those in power are exposed as the book goes on, and revenge only leaves the innocent at risk of the plagues and dangers of the patriarchy. Acting like them only perpetuates the system of victimhood, only changing who receives violence and shame. Immanuelle has multiple difficult choices to make, between safety for herself or safety of everyone. Multiple changes have to be made to really alter the foundations of their society, and she is definitely strong enough to make them.
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This was an interesting mix of horror and fantasy. It was dark, between the horrendous actions of people and the witches, it was full of horrors. I found the parallels between the witches, their Mother goddess and the Church's Father to be compelling. I thought that the religious element was very well done. The pacing of the book though seemed off. The characters were not the strong point of the story. In fact, I found the characters to be meh. I didn't care for them or care all tat much about what happens to them.
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You know when you enjoyed a book, but you wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to someone? That was The Year of the Witching for me.

I was into the feminist witchy vibes contrasted with a dystopian Evangelical South. It also had an expertly crafted classic YA formula of adventure, mixed with “girl that never quite fit in”, mixed with love interest that felt familiar in a good way.

What kept me from being more enthusiastic though is that it went on for a little too long. As well, what could have been a meaningful undertone on race relations was presented as too unclear-and if I (someone with an English Lit degree) had trouble deciphering a YA motif, it most likely means that whatever point was being made would be straight over the average young reader’s head.

If The Year of the Witching sounds like your cup of tea, I recommend saving it for the fall and pairing it with Lolly Willowes for full feminist witch context. And if you’re local to Philly make sure to check out The Spiral Bookcase for the black cherry on top.
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The Year of the Witching completely caught me by surprise, I was sorta interested because of the horror aspect but not so much the subject material when it comes to the very religious and witchy plot but I did not realize I was going to enjoy it this much. I’m not the biggest witch fan, the horror Gothic vibe is what really turned me to it. It’s not a generic Halloween witch style book, it is a straight up horror thriller in a very mature way with a chilling atmosphere and tons of blood. Do not underestimate the blood.

It’s been a while since I’ve fallen head over heels for a horror, okay let’s be honest, it’s been since Mexican Gothic. This is a fantastic open and shut reading experience that’s well, on the short side, but is so high quality and enjoyable with minimal filler, and it’s physically gorgeous.

So we’re following Immanuelle who was born a curse. She’s lives in a village that is incredibly religious. In fact, in the beginning she is partaking in what is called a sabbath where they slay a lamb and drip blood on the villagers. There's a man called The Prophet who I was legit scared of, he reminded me of the antagonist of the video game A Plagues Tale. All of his wives have a holy seal cut between there eyebrows so yes, the moment you begin reading and I’m talking about the very first page, you realize this is going to be dark and it is. It’s incredibly sinister. It’s very cult like and immanuelle sticks out among her community, not only because of her skin color but she believes she is full of sin because all she wants to do is herd sheep. Me too girl. 

Immanuelle’s family is incredibly poor, they are on the brink of ruin all because their family history is connected to the Darkwood which is the forest surrounding the village and Immanuelle has always felt a strange affinity to it. The main character honestly kinda reminds me of a dark skinned Lydia from Beetle juice. At one point while herding sheep in the eerie fog, she sings a Hymn she once learned at a funeral. She’s pretty badass.

I say that though there really isn’t too much combat and action since the main character is really just trying to survive the environment she’s in by being clever and rebellious. She’s sneaking around quite a bit, it gives you a genuine feeling of being in a restricted section the entire time. It all makes the main character and some side characters as well feel very small compared to The Church. The author still keeps it very briskly paced, it all felt like a shot of fresh air. It kept me interested through out. The whole witch purging thing is yeah, a cool approach but mostly with how the author did it. I thought she was going to go for this sad depressing historical accuracy until I read and things are very over the top and twisted. 

I really don’t want to give anything away. I’m trying to be as vague as possible. The story was so fascinating to learn. It was like reading an old folktale the whole time. Or it felt like when you tell scary stories around a campfire but then those stories suddenly become reality. Spooooooky.
That’s the kind of vibe this book gives off. The writing is great and it’s even more extenuated by hair raising horror inspired metaphors 

Now there is magic in this book which I did not expect at all and it comes in the form of gifts. Some people are gifted with healing, some can tell truth from falsehood. All the gifts are very realistic in the sense that there's not like “I cast my fireball at you!” it’s all very subtle and connected to the holy protocol. Though it’s very rarely seen in the story at all. It’s mentioned every now and then and I think it would have been rad to have seen it used more.

Launching myself into the sun would be less stressful than reading the final chapters of this book. It did feel a little sudden and wrapped up too quickly for my taste and some things toward the end felt a little too convenient for Imanuelle but these are little things in the grand scheme of things. So at the end of the day, should you read this book? If you’re into sinister witches, bloody everything, you should definitly check it out.
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This book wasn't for me.  I liked the idea, but couldn't read it due to conflicts in beliefs. ..............................................................
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The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson is a book about woman who born cursed. Coming into herself and finding the truth, can she change the world?

I am trying to think of something I enjoyed about this book but so far I cannot think of a thing for me. This was a DNF. The main character was not intriguing to me and I just was bored. I was forcing myself to continue and make  bargains with myself to read this. Now in all fairness I may just be burnt on worlds where woman are treated like crap in patriarchal society but there was nothing to distinguish and pull me into the story in the first 15% of the book. I skipped to the end and could already feel how I would be dissatisfied. 

I give this two stars. I am sure some others will like it but I just had no desire to continue this book even after reading the end.

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an ARC. This is an honest review.
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The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Pros: interesting characters, quite scary and intense

Cons: uncomfortable race relations

Sixteen year old Immanuelle Moore is the daughter of a black man from the Outskirts, who burned on a pyre for having relations with her mother. Her mother was a white bride of the Prophet, who went mad after seeing her lover die. Raised as a good believer in the Holy Scriptures, she doesn’t understand why the Darkwood, home of the witches who once terrorized Bethel, calls to her so strongly. When she finally succumbs to that call, she unwittingly unleashes a series of curses on her home.

Immanuelle is a great protagonist, conflicted in her beliefs and desires. She’s strong willed and passionate. Her terror of the witches and determination to end the curses were palpable. I loved the slow burn romance with Ezra.

The world itself was terrifying for a liberal reader. Bethel is a closed community with very strict religious rules and no recourse against the hidden evils Immanuelle discovers taking place within the church: abuse of power - physical and sexual - and the subjugation of women. 

The division between the villages of the ‘holy’ white congregation and the shanty towns on the Outskirts of the black former refugees was stark and left me feeling uncomfortable. I would have thought that with the conversion of the refugees, more intermingling would have occurred. The fact that Lilith, the head witch, was a black woman also left me feeling unsettled as it seems to continue this ‘black is evil, white is good’ theme, which is clearly undercut by the churches’ abuses on one hand but not really by anything on the other. Yes, Immanuelle fought against the witches, but as she was from the village and not the Outskirts it didn’t feel like she broke that aphorism. Nor does Vera, as it’s unclear if she ever practiced witchcraft or simply used protective sigils.

The horror elements are very terrifying. There’s a lot of blood and the story centres on events in womens’ lives that feature blood. The witches are evil and things get so grim I had to take breaks when reading this. Descriptions aren’t overly graphic, so though the imagery can be intense, it never feels gratuitous.

The writing is quite lyrical, which brings the world to life and really drives home the terror.

On the whole this is a fantastic story, provided you can handle a horror novel right now.
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“True evil, Immanuelle realized now, 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.”

THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING is the feminist horror witchy tale you need in your life.  Dark and atmospheric with plenty of creepy moments, along with an undercurrent of love and loyalty and an exploration of the powerful bond between mother and child. 

Immanuelle comes from Bethel, a rigid, puritanical society where women’s highest aspiration is to be one of the Prophet’s wives. Wives (and women) are meant to serve and there’s no higher power to serve than the prophet. That’s just the way life is in Bethel. You work, you worship, you obey and, most importantly, you stay out of the woods. The Darkwood holds danger and it’s a danger borne of secrets very close to Immanuelle and her people, and she’s thrown right into the middle of it after wandering into the woods and given a gift in the form of her dead mother’s journal. It becomes all too clear that perhaps Bethel isn’t quite what it claims to be. 

“This was the great shame of Bethel: complacency and complicity that was responsible for the deaths of generations of girls. It was the sickness that placed the pride of men before the innocents they were sworn to protect. It was a structure that exploited the weakest among them for the benefit of those born to power.”

Filled with plenty of creepy moments and brimming with tension, THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING also explores several themes, the most prominent being female empowerment and a revolution to bring an end to the patriarchy within Bethel, with Immanuelle quietly and proudly leading that revolution. The story also touches on class and race, and the author does a phenomenal job exploring both and having Immanuelle experience firsthand the struggles that come along with being of mixed heritage. This book is fairly dark at times, but Henderson nicely balances the darkness with a little bit of romance, and that certainly helped to lighten things up a little. 

Bottom line — I loved everything about this book, and Henderson is definitely on the way to becoming an auto-buy author for me. THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING gave off strong vibes of The Village meets The Handmaid’s Tale, and it’s a mix that worked really well for me. 5/5 stars. 

*eARC received courtesy of NetGalley.
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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 absolutely ADORE this unique, witchy novel that has been described as "Handmaid's Tale meets Salem." I'm also slightly obsessed with the cover 😍
𝕭𝖑𝖔𝖔𝖉. 𝕭𝖑𝖎𝖌𝖍𝖙. 𝕯𝖆𝖗𝖐𝖓𝖊𝖘𝖘. 𝕾𝖑𝖆𝖚𝖌𝖍𝖙𝖊𝖗
A male-dominated repressive religious regime; the daughter of an "outsider" who was burned at the pyre; a dark forest home to a coven of witches; plagues; curses; a forbidden library filled with old books... need I go on!?

I was hooked from the outset and enthralled until the end. This novel is such a unique combination of fantasy/horror/dystopia with historical fiction vibes. The atmosphere and world-building is phenomenal. While the supernatural elements are undoubtedly creepy, even more disturbing is the horrific abuse of power wielded by the "devout." It is a dark, gripping read that I did not want to put down!
Henderson has crafted a beautifully written, haunting story that touches on themes of race, class, gender, and power.
If you're looking for a witchy, dystopian, dark and atmospheric tale featuring evocative writing and a strong female protagonist, I highly recommend The Year of the Witching.
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𝓑𝓵𝓸𝓸𝓭, 𝓑𝓵𝓲𝓰𝓱𝓽, 𝓓𝓪𝓻𝓴𝓷𝓮𝓼𝓼, 𝓢𝓵𝓪𝓾𝓰𝓱𝓽𝓮𝓻.

Debut Novel by Alexis Henderson
“𝚃𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚎’𝚜 𝚜𝚘𝚖𝚎𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚋𝚒𝚍𝚕𝚢 𝚏𝚊𝚜𝚌𝚒𝚗𝚊𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚐 𝚊𝚋𝚘𝚞𝚝 𝚟𝚒𝚕𝚕𝚊𝚒𝚗𝚜 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝚜𝚎𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚖𝚜𝚎𝚕𝚟𝚎𝚜 𝚊𝚜 𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚘𝚎𝚜 𝚘𝚛 “𝚑𝚎𝚛𝚘𝚎𝚜” 𝚠𝚑𝚘 𝚍𝚘 𝚎𝚟𝚒𝚕 𝚝𝚑𝚒𝚗𝚐𝚜 𝚒𝚗 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚗𝚊𝚖𝚎 𝚘𝚏 𝚝𝚑𝚎 𝚐𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚝𝚎𝚛 𝚐𝚘𝚘𝚍.”
 —𝙰𝚕𝚎𝚡𝚒𝚜 𝙷𝚎𝚗𝚍𝚎𝚛𝚜𝚘𝚗

Thank you @berkleypub for gifting me The Year of the Witching!
𝙱𝚕𝚘𝚘𝚍, 𝙱𝚕𝚒𝚐𝚑𝚝, 𝙳𝚊𝚛𝚔𝚗𝚎𝚜𝚜, 𝚂𝚕𝚊𝚞𝚐𝚑𝚝𝚎𝚛.
A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself, with terrifying and far-reaching consequences, in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. 

All included quotes have been taken from an ARC and may not match the finished publication. 

Alexis Henderson debut novel has solidified herself as a new voice in dark fantasy

A Hauntingly tale, The Year of the Witching is the tale of curses, witches, a dark forbidden woods.

Blood, Blight, Darkness, Slaughter.

𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙔𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙒𝙞𝙩𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙣𝙜, by Alexis Henderson Is a tension filled, deliciously terrifying southern gothic, with puritain elements, with captivating prose, you will be completely immersed within its horror drenched thrilling pages.

Alexis Henderson blends elements of both the supernatural and horror, to give us one incredible witchy books ever. This absorbing and highly compulsive read here that was so captivating that you will have the biggest book hang over ever. The authors gift of imaginative unsettling world building, along with the magic system really makes this a spine-tingling tale. 
The characters are well developed and completely fleshed out. The protagonist  Immanuelle Moore battles demons within the malevolent woods and her patriarchal church-based social society government. Taking place in a rigid and unrelenting town where the Prophet’s word is law and punishment is common. 

I was hooked in the first chapter in this nonstop read, the storyline is perfectly executed, Henderson does an exceptional job sinking you into this stunning darkish atmospheric book. Taking place in a rigid and unrelenting town where the Prophet’s word is law and punishment is unrelenting. 
The citizens of puritanical town of Bethel are forbidden to enter the Darkwood, when a series of events Immanuelle is lured in by accident, hidden truths are long time coming, as they resurface and a forgotten curse awakens.

Themes explored are feminism, theology, and race woven in such a way that their depiction is masterly done.

The Year of the Witching! releases tomorrow and if you like dark ominous gothic reads, you won’t want let this to pass you by
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So I've been considering reading this book for awhile now. The cover kept grabbing my attention and I was so glad I finally did! 
This is a debut book by Alex Henderson about a girl named Immanuelle who is being raised by her mothers family in a city called Bethel. Bethel is a small village run by "The Prophet", the leader of the church and his "apostles" who carry out his bidding. The story deals with sexism, sexual assault, misogyny, and racism. 
Immanuelle has been raised by her mothers family since the day she was born. Her mother, a young girl who was one of the many wives of the Prophet had escaped the church to be with the man she loved. A dark skinned man from the Outskirts, a shanty town between Bethel and the Darkwoods. 

Immanuelle does everything she can to fit in, be obedient and keep attention from herself. Her mother had been labeled a witch for escaping to the Darkwoods and Immanuelle has that burden to bear. A storm and a wild chase to catch her runaway ram brings her into the Darkwoods where she comes across the fabled witches of the Darkwood. They give her her mothers journal and Immanuelle realizes that her connection to the Darkwoods runs deeper than she imagined. 

I really loved this book. It may very well be a stand alone novel and it certainly works as one. But I'd still love another story from this character, the ending suggests there could be one but it may not be necessary. 
I think the characters were very interesting and well developed and the book kept my attention. I read it in two days. It was really, really good!
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The vibe I got from this book from the beginning was like that of the movie The VVitch, except with a biracial main character. But this book begins more where The VVitch ends, when we know witchcraft is real and where its realm is.

The book also has a quasi-Christian polygamous, patriarchal, puritanical (you know, the three P's!) cult as the religious force opposing the witchcraft, and the main character Immanuelle is trying to navigate the world of discovering the truth in both practices.

It's definitely a horror novel, with so much blood that is from a lot of places: violence, rituals, menstruation, childbirth, animal sacrifice, and more! So you gotta go into this one ready for that. It actually had so many different representations of blood that it got me thinking about how blood is used is so many different ways, to symbolize womanhood, commitment, family, race, religiosity, death, etc. etc. and it really made me think how can this one thing be all these things at the same time? And I think that's what this book is trying to explore.

What's interesting and thought provoking about this book is that it isn't a straightforward story of religious cults being bad and witches being good, despite how I might want to root for witches. I appreciate that the story leaves me with thoughts to think.

For me, the downside of the book was that the world building and plot were all there, but I felt like I didn't get to know Immanuelle as much as I wanted to. She's brave and curious and righteous but didn't always feel rounded to me.

***Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing an arc in exchange for my honest review.***
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The Year of the Witching is a stellar debut novel from Alexis Henderson. Immanuelle is a female protagonist that I resonate deeply with. The question of her patriarchal, religious environment will run deep with many girls who felt alone on this teenage spiritual journey. 

The horror atmosphere is slow and steady and is a breath of fresh air amongst the horror genre. Witches and evil run rampant within this narrative and it is aesthetically pleasing to read. I would recommend this for fans of slow burn horror with a dash of thought-provoking questions about identity and secularism.
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3.5 stars

What do you have when you add Salem Witch Trials, plagues, cursed witches, polygamy, oppression of women, fantasy settings, racial commentaries, and religious allegories together? This book.

Writing: ★★★★
Concept: ★★★★
Pacing/Plot: ★★★
Characters: ★★★
Enjoyment: ★★★ 1/2

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. A biracial girl in a town of only white people, her very existence brings shame to her family as it reminds the settlement of her dead mother's sins—and witchcraft.

The Prophet is a man (I bet you guessed) and the town of Bethel exists as a small, settlement-type town in the middle of Nowhere, Nowhere. Their town is surrounded by the Darkwood, and the Prophet's religious teachings warn of the wood's dangers and temptations. Lilith and her coven of witches live in the Darkwood and they live in sin, and if you let them tempt you you'll be lost forever.

Or at least, that's what the man says.

Like so many tales of oppressive male-dominated religious regimes, The Year of the Witching is highlighting issues of gender, power, and control—and how many of those bindings go hand in hand with some extreme conservative religions. The Prophet may be in charge and he may call himself holy, but his many many underage sister wives tell a different story by the bruises on their skin.

Combining issues of female agency and power, race and poverty, and a heavy dose of critical notes on religion, this tale was extremely representative and often sacrificed world building and plot for the sake of allegory. I'm not saying that it wasn't done well, but I definitely want to highlight that fact for other readers.

At the end of the day, I thought this was a solid debut. As someone who likes fantasy/horror speculative novels that go there and push the reader, I thought this fell short for my personal tastes. The messaging was fantastic, but the plot itself stopped its own progress by keeping it from going to that extra level. Things felt predictable—with the heart of the novel focused on the lofty concepts, it was harder for the characters to authentically reach their goals.

Without spoiling this particular novel, a good example of this would be like a book to movie adaptation. It's hard to be surprised when you go the theater to view an adapted movie from a book that you've read. You know the main plot points, you've read the book, so it's really a matter of relying on the adaptation to still surprise you with something new within the framework of something that you already know.

The Year of the Witching didn't have that extra oomph for me, but I think it did for other readers.

Thank you to Ace - Berkley via NetGalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Year of the Witching

Author: Alexis Henderson

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Mixed race main character (it’s a bit fuzzy on what she’s mixed with but it does describe her as having darker skin)

Recommended For...: witches, historical fiction, paranormal, fantasy, horror

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Genre: YA Paranormal

Recommended Age: 17+ (menstrual cycles, gore, animal death/slaughter, torture, death, sex mentions, domestic abuse, child sex abuse)

Publisher: Ace

Pages: 368

Synopsis: In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the 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.

Review: I really loved this book! The story was intriguing and kept me hooked from the first page. The character development was well done for most of the characters, and I loved message behind the book. The book is basically commentary on how toxic communities can become if there is a leader left with unchecked power (sound like something familiar? Good). The book was also very open about the slight racism the main character faced (without calling it racism) and was open about menstrual cycles (win!). The book also touches slightly on whitewashing history, but it’s more like “hiding that our history comes from the very thing we are trying to kill”. The book also is very feminist!

However, I did feel like the pacing was a bit too slow for me and I wish that there was a bit more world building in the book. The book also didn’t paint either side as good or evil, which works for the book but leaves the reader a bit weird on siding with either side.

Verdict: It was a well done book! Highly recommend.
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I had to give up on this one. The premise and intro were promising, but it all went downhill very quickly for me. I think I was expecting something else and unfortunately, this was not for me.
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The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Immanuelle is raised by her grandparents in a strict, puritanical village after her parents die after being accused of witchcraft. She does her best to live a life above possible reproach. When a walk in the evaded woods leads to her finding her mother's journal which is full of pages about witches, plagues and madness.

Immanuelle is a kickass main character. She's strong, she's kind, she's loyal and she's willing to sacrifice for the greater good. This book has witchcraft, secret symbols, sweet romance, corrupted society and plagues. Not really sure what else you are looking for in a book.

It's the author's debut novel which impresses me to know end. She also has a beautiful instagram so I recommend you follow her here -> @lexish. I cannot wait to see what she writes next. (I saw on her IG she is working on a sequel which makes me SO HAPPY.)

Thank you @berkleypub and @NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
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“To be a woman is to be a sacrifice.”

Immanuelle has become one of my favorite female leads after reading this book. I loved the fact that after EVERYTHING she went through she still did the right thing when it was all said and done. Immanuelle was considered an outcast because she was biracial and even though she lived with her White family members, she still had to keep her head down and her nose clean which was so frustrating at times. Then we have the Prophet who spews his venom and is the biggest sinner of them all but uses his holiness to justify his actions. Sounds about right.

This was a solid debut by Alexis Henderson. It covered certain topics without coming off like a public service announcement such as racism and sexism. It has a strong message about speaking up about what is right and not being complicit in certain situations. The story was fast paced and held my attention. Reading this book transported me to a different place and the whole time reading I felt like I was in the book watching the events unfold. I loved the way the book was wrapped up and there weren’t any loose ends. I do hope we get a sequel because I’m not ready to let these characters go.
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I’ve never hidden the fact that I make a lot of my book buying decisions based first off the cover and then by reading the blurb. The Year of the Witching caught my eye in a Twitter thread about up and coming, new authors of color and as soon as I clicked on the link I knew I had to get my hands on a copy.

This is kind of a mash up of all the dystopian, religious cult like horror stories you’ve read… yet it feels fresh and is so very gripping. Readers are introduced to Immanuelle Moore who lives in a deeply religious, puritanical community where the words of the prophet are law and suspicions run deep towards outsiders and those who look different. She and her disgraced family live on the outskirts of town, just getting by, but remain loyal to the church and the prophet. Yet, Immanuelle is different, not only because of her mother and the circumstances of her birth, but because she is soon caught up in the battle between good and evil, the Mother and the Father, for the lives and souls of the town.

Once I opened my Kindle and started reading, I just couldn’t stop. This author has such a compelling voice and she weaves this tale of feminist resistance so effortlessly. I HAD to know what was coming next. I HAD to know if the prophet would get his comeuppance. I HAD to know how Immanuelle would overcome the ignorance and hypocrisy of Bethel to save them from themselves.

The Year of the Witching is not a light read. It is dark, intense, and deeply disturbing at times, but a very well written and easy to fall into for a day of reading. This author just jumped to the top of my auto-buy list and I can’t wait to read whatever she releases next.

CW– rape, sexual assault, violence

Final grade- B+
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Included as a top pick in bimonthly July New Releases post, which highlights and promotes upcoming releases of the month (link attached).
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