Author: Lena Coakley
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
ISBN-10: 1442420049 (Simon & Schuster)
ISBN-13: 978-1442420045 (Simon & Schuster)
Reviewed by: Michelle
High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.
It’s all a fake.
At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?
But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—
Are about him.
Quick & Dirty: A unique fantasy with a fantastic and believable world that revolves around magic, fascinating creatures, and well rounded characters.
Opening Sentence: Ryder woke to the sound of clattering bones.
Witchlanders by Lena Coakley is a world filled with magic and fantasy. Not only does Witchlanders contain witches, but it also contains a very detailed world and a culture full of religious beliefs.
We begin the story with Ryder, the eldest son of a witchlander, who lives on the hills between the coven and the town. Along with his two sisters, they care for their land and also for their mother. One evening, Ryder finds his mother reading the future through bones thrown in a bowl. Regardless of the promise to never throw those bones again, she seeks for signs of danger in their future. In the midst of an ongoing war between the Witchlanders and the Baen people, Ryder is caught between his mother’s beliefs and his own. But who will he believe? What will he do to save his town from danger?
A decision creates a ripple as fast as fire to dry bush, and Ryder must take a journey and own up to his responsibility and his actions alone. There are questions left unanswered, and some answers too surprising even for Ryder. Ryder grows up a lot on this journey, accepting changes physically and spiritually. Never believing in his mother’s beliefs, he finds that he holds magic, and possibly share the same beliefs after all.
Falpian is the Baen, a young boy who has it all. Spoiled by riches and luxury, the one thing that he covets is his father’s approval. Without it, he feels he amounts to nothing. He mourns the death of his brother, and is somewhat exiled at the edge of the Baen border. Living in solitude, Falpian must find who he is and what his purpose in life is. Falpian meets an unexpected stranger and learns truths that shake the very core of his being. Who will he choose to trust and will he survive the journey to the truth?
Coakley surprised me with the world that she created. I must be honest and say that I was expecting a female protagonist. Only because of the cover art, but that is neither here nor there. Coakley’s world is so imaginative and detailed, that it became real. The hills that belong to Ryder, or the landscape that Falpian saw each morning, I was there alongside them, taking it all in.
The alternating point-of-views were a little confusing. I felt that a majority of the story belonged to Ryder, and that Falpian was an afterthought. I would have liked to understand Falpian more, and delve into his past and what past experiences made him who he is today. Both Ryder and Falpian each have their own struggles, and despite my wants and needs for this story, Coakley did a fantastic job writing their differences and conflicts, yet putting them in this linear timeline. They had symbolic parallels, adding to the engaging experience of the world.
Ryder had a moment to stumble out of the water and prepare himself. Then, like a heavy weight pressing down from above, the cold came. Ryder heard a hissing sound, like an intake of breath, as the water on his clothing froze stiff. He gasped, and Dassen let out a bellow of pain. Cold. Frigid cold.
“Hurry up!” said Dassen. “Keep moving.” His words were clouds in the air now, and his beard was white with ice. Above them the clouds, like purple fingers, seemed to reach out to grip the valley. Winter had arrived.
“The river will be frozen by tomorrow,” said Ryder. “What will we do about the creatures then?”
“We’ll fight. And we’ll pray to the Goddess. What else can we do? We don’t even know what these things are or what magic made them.”
What magic. Out of the blue, Ryder remembered the singing he’d heard in his mind, and he remembered the conversation he’d had with his mother that morning. Something even colder than the chilling snaked its way around his heart and tightened its grip.
“Yes we do know, Dassen,” he said. “My mother told me. She said there was a Baen in the mountains. He must have made these things.”
Dassen’s face hardened. Then he looked at Ryder and smiled grimly. “Well, we Witchlanders know how to kill a Baen, don’t we?”
FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of Witchlanders. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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