Page Count 320
Publication date July 2020/ Publisher Transworld
The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement.
But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel – a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.
Fascinated by 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 realises the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her . .
If you frequent my Twitter account (@anaveragelife88) you may have seen my dismay at the wreckage of an ARC I received from Transworld.
The first line of every page was missing, I had to guess from one letter what the entire sentence could be. Any word containing a double f was incomplete meaning I had to fill in words written as ‘shu led’ and ‘o erring’ the entire way through, and random letters and numbers were scattered throughout.
Usually this would make me turn away, but even realising a chapter into The Year Of The Witching that these format errors were continuous, I could NOT put it down! I was so enraptured by this book I forgave the many ARC format issues and happily persevered.
Bethel is ruled by a prophet, you know the kind- he marries pubescent girls to birth his many successors. He sacrifices animals to ‘the Father’ and banishes all people of colour, except for Immanuelle. Bastard daughter from the son of a black witch and the child of a once loved Apostle, Immanuelle is raised by her devout grandparents to honor the Prophet’s law. But the Darkwoods call out to Immanuelle and only by entering the forbidden forest will she find answers.
Told in third person, past tense, The Year Of The Witching has an authentic old-time small village setting that I always love. Lately it seems I’ve read a few novels that centre around empowered women overthrowing the patriarchy- but my cup does not overfloweth yet!
We see Immanuelle and prophet son Ezra turn their back on the Scriptures in a desperate attempt to halt the four curses plaguing Bethel;
Blood. Blight. Darkness. Slaughter.
Whilst the witching and time period lend the novel an edge of fantasy, this is no doubt a work of horror. From the chokehold of the Church and her late mother’s insanity, to fear of the plagues and finally the terrifying witches themselves, Immanuelle isn’t safe for a moment from beginning to end.
Fit for film, I easily give The Year Of The Witching top marks and cannot wait for next years sequel! Thankyou so much to Lily Cole for offering me this title.