If you’d like to read the summary for The Year of The Witching before reading my review, please visit the Goodreads page.
What. The Heck. Do you know when a book just leaves you in such a state that you don’t know what to do with your life? Well, I had a similar feeling when I finished The Year of The Witching.
As soon as I finished this book, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, rejoice, down a bottle of wine… Honestly, I was a mess. This book kept me up all night as I couldn’t stop reading, I had to know what happened to Imanuelle, her family and friends next.
The brilliant thing about this book is that it reads like a social commentary. There’s no explicit mention of the time it’s set in, so I couldn’t pin-point what era the characters originated from. But the themes of racism, sexual harassment, and child abuse are heavy in this one. Take this as a trigger warning. There is one part, in particular, involving Imanuelle’s lovely friend, Leah, that nothing could have prepared me for. I’ve got quite a strong stomach after watching/reading many true crime documentaries and books, but this had me sobbing. It was harrowing to read, please don’t take my warning lightly on this one.
Speaking of the characters, Imanuelle is fierce and loyal, as can be seen by the many courageous acts she carries out in an attempt to save her loved ones. Imanuelle is the embdiment of feminism and battles against all odds to rid herself of the curse that was forced upon her by her mother. She lived as one of the villager’s, but was very much viewed as an outsider due to her mothers sins.
The witches were definitely interesting, even if we were only really given glimpses of them. Imanuelle always felt they were watching her. It took a while to decide where you stood where the witches are concerned. There were many times I questioned whether they were actually the evil ones in this book or not. They’re the ‘sinners’, the ones who are performing sexual acts in the Darkwood that the Prophet forbids in Bethel. Well, unless you’re married or married to him. So much as flirtatiously glance at someone in Bethel and you’re condemned for it. They’re the ones casting dreadful curses, each as grim and deadly as the last, Blood, Blight, Darkness, and Slaughter.
The town of bethel is full of corruption from the church. The Prophet himself is a vile man, with no respect for women and a wicked temper. If I’ve ever been tempted to leap into a book and punch a character before, I near enough put him on the pyre to be burnt to death. Sorry, grim, but he leads many to their deaths for sins they committed when he was committing crimes that were far worse. The amount of power this one man yields is terrifying given that he’s a sexual predator. No one questions him on it because he is the mighty leader. His word is final and his polyamorous relationship with, essentially, every young woman in the community is enough to make your skin crawl.
The only good thing to come from the Prophet, was his son, Ezra. I find it hard to talk about him because I get all emotional. He is an absolute hero, in every single way, and I adore him. He will do anything to protect Imanuelle and shows her that she’s not alone. Ezra is as much a star of this book as Imanuelle is. I feel like he really did play a huge part in my overall rating of this book.
The Year of The Witching is a gripping, intense, and brilliant debut novel. I rate it 4.5/5. The reason for this, I thoroughly enjoyed this book but there were some issues with world-building that I had to knock half a star off for. Also, side note, how beautiful is the cover?