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July 19, 2020

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson ~ a Review

by MK French

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.
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The Year of the Witching
July 2020; Ace; 978-0593099605
audio, ebook, print (368 pages); dark fantasy
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.

Buy Year of the Witching at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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