The Black Witch by Laurie ForestThe Black Witch by Laurie Forest

The Black Witch

byLaurie Forest

Paperback | August 7, 2018

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“Maximum suspense, unusual magic—a whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!”

—Tamora Pierce
, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A refreshing, powerful young adult fantasy.”

—Robin Hobb
, New York Times bestselling author

Powerful magic. A deadly legacy. A world at the edge of war.

Prepare to be spellbound by
The Black Witch.

Evil looms on the horizon, and for Elloren Gardner, granddaughter of the last Black Witch, pressure to live up to her magical heritage is building. Elloren’s people, the Gardnerians, believe she will follow in her grandmother’s footsteps. But Elloren is utterly devoid of power—in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

Granted the opportunity to study at the prestigious Verpax University, Elloren sets out to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But the university may be the most treacherous place of all for the granddaughter of the Black Witch, and Elloren soon realizes that the world she knows is not what it seems. If she is to survive the coming danger, she’ll have to free her mind from the assumptions she was raised with, and learn to trust the very people she’s been taught to hate and fear.

Critics are raving about Laurie Forest’s incredible debut,
The Black Witch:

“We fell under the spell of this rich, diverse, Potter-worthy university world!”

Justine magazine

“A captivating and stimulating fantasy novel with a whole world of excitement and danger. I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in this world of magic and intrigue.”


“Forest uses a richly imagined magical world to offer an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice.”

Booklist, starred review

“Exquisite character work, an elaborate mythology, and a spectacularly rendered universe make this a noteworthy debut, which argues passionately against fascism and xenophobia.”

Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Briskly paced, tightly plotted…set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own.”

Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Title:The Black WitchFormat:PaperbackDimensions:608 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 1.19 inPublished:August 7, 2018Publisher:HarlequinLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1335468862

ISBN - 13:9781335468864


Rated 4 out of 5 by from Loved it!!! I love this book! Forest has created a magical world that you just get lost in.
Date published: 2018-03-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed Okay, I'm probably going to get lots of hate for this, but I just really really could not get into this book. In fact, I couldn't finish the novel. I could not relate nor connect to the main character- she lived a sheltered life, maybe too sheltered to see the world around her. I was so utterly confused as to what was going on in the plot. It felt like random segments of things were fit together without any correlation to eachother and the story felt very bland in general. :(
Date published: 2018-01-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engrossing read! An awesome read with a realistic (for a fantasy novel) female main character. I was glad to come upon this series, which deals with issues of race, class and religious tolerance, but within the framework of a fantasy series.
Date published: 2018-01-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Creative book i loved reading this book, i love when there's racial differences and always that one person that comes to realize that there's a need for change and then they become that change and people follow the act.
Date published: 2018-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great First Novel I loved this book. It is definitely not about a girl who is fully formed and finished growing, so look elsewhere for that. It is frustrating a few times for sure, watching Elloren make poor decisions or think problematic thoughts but the changes she experiences are incredibly well done and beautifully subtle. The world is well formed and the characters are full and complete and believable.Their archs are well fitted into Elloren's story and the action is well paced. I couldn't put this book down and am looking forward to the sequel.
Date published: 2017-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved This Don't you think that being pissed off by the racism you see in here is a good thing? It kind of means you're a decent human being who understands the fact that no one should be treated differently based on appearance, religion or sexual orientation. I really don't understand the backlash this has received. I found this to be an admirable effort on Forest's part in writing a story following a young women who is trying to navigate the prejudices her society faces. Put yourself in Elloren's shoes. She's been sheltered most of her life on purpose, but she's been taught one way of life, and that's the Gardnerian culture. Sadly, they're assholes. But then she starts to realize there are different views and opinions in the world, and she does so in a way that we WISH would happen more. Meeting the people "different" from us and talking with an open mind. I thought it was well done! Especially with the Lupines. That kind of candid conversation was wonderful to read, humorous even in the context of the story. I related very much to Elloren because I had the same experience in university myself. All through grade school I was taught on certain subjects that this is how it is, that's what happened, deal with it. But then I took that one class with that one professor who opened my eyes and changed my whole view on the topic. He didn't sugarcoat anything, he didn't try to make one type of group look better than the other. He simply told the story how it happened, and sadly, it wasn't glorious, it wasn't decent, it was rough. The "racism" Elloren faces in her world really isn't all that different from what we see. I mean, Trump was elected f**king president after he called Mexicans rapists and murderers. But the moment he said it, people came forward to call him out, to show his ignorant face that that is NOT the case. People banded together and stood up to that pack of lies. How is that any different from what you read in here? Be offended, get triggered, and rise up and be the change. Maybe we don't have dragons and elves, but that doesn't mean magic is needed to face the ugly monster we see in society. Well, that turned into a rant I didn't expect. Anywho, despite being a little scared considering the reviews I read before hand, I really enjoyed this book. The beginning was a bit rough, with it being a bit too much of an info-dump, but after the first few chapters I found I couldn't put it down. Admittedly, the pacing could have been improved once Elloren is at university. I don't think it was necessary to spend so many chapters going to every single class with her, but it didn't detract from the story for me. Forest did use adjectives a lot, but again, I didn't really hate it. I loved the myriad of characters, but my favourite really was Diana. She's the kind of confident a lot of girls wish they could be. Forest has left a great book, and one that has enough questions to leave me wishing for the next one. Although it's a 4 in my mind, I'm rating it a 5 to offset some of the nasty reviews this book did not deserve.
Date published: 2017-10-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok Very well written but cvould have been ore descriptive of each of the instances that were felt.
Date published: 2017-10-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok I couldn't put this book down. There is always something going on that keeps you reading
Date published: 2017-10-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing! I am loving this book. I stayed up until 430 am reading, i've spent the last 8 hours devouring everything this book has to offer. I'll be done soon... unfortunately... This book is definitely raising the bar for others like it. This book will be much loved and i'm sure ill be reading it again very soon. It is so addicting.. intircrately woven... i love the magical elements it offers. will most definitely be recommending this book to friends and family.
Date published: 2017-09-23
Rated 3 out of 5 by from ok this is such a great book! I loved the plot, storyline, and everything in between!
Date published: 2017-09-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from yes this is such a great book! I loved the plot, storyline, and everything in between!
Date published: 2017-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I ADORE this book This book got a ton of hate online, claiming that it was "racist", "misogynistic", and featured "negative sexual themes" as well as prejudice. Yes, these are all topics that Elloren, the main character, faces as well as is able to overcome. If you have an issue with a fantasy book (like MANY others) discussing topics of prejudice amongst different races due to war and magic, as well as the idea that in this world setting (which is very common) women often stick to trades such as herbology and merchanting, then this book may not be for you. I, however, found these difficulties to add to character development and show that these issues can be overcome. The Black Witch is incredibly written. It features love triangles without making the book a sappy romance novel, but just enough to make the reader connect with Elloren. This book is everything that a fantasy novel should be. My only issue is that the book was released in 2017 and now I'll have to wait a couple of years for the sequel.
Date published: 2017-09-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Give this book a Chance! ***may contain spoilers*** I can't believe how many negative reviews this book got. I nearly didn't pick it up even though I liked the blurb. I'm glad I decided to judge it for myself. It looked big and intimidating when I got it but it was a surprisingly quick read. I enjoyed reading this book and I kept trying to understand what did people see so horrible about it. Yes, it takes place in a racist, male dominated and it also hints at a homophobic society, but in no way does it promote it (my impression anyway). I thought it seem to take issues we're facing in the world right now and use it in a fantasy setting. I liked how the author tackled it and handled it. The beginning of the novel may be rough to get through seeing how naive and ignorant Elloren was but she starts being more open minded. I didn't find her annoying as I usually do with female protagonists. If there's anything negative I can say about it is, aspects of it don't seem very original to me. The protagonist is off to school and is unaware of her infamous status and is bullied by her peers for being famous. It reminded me of Harry Potter. It's also riding on the idea of a girl who's about to spark a revolution. I've been seeing that a lot lately, in the Hunger Games, Red Queen, Blood Rose Rebellion, Divergent, just to name a few. Other than that I can't wait for the next book. I'm dying in anticipation for when it will be revealed that Elloren is actually really powerful (I spent the whole book wondering: is this the moment? is this the moment?)
Date published: 2017-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Summer Read. I received this novel as an advance reader copy. #indigoemployee. As I am a huge fantasy reader I was excited to read this book. It was until I was a third the way in did I realize why its in teen section. The author touch in great length diversity, prejudices and sexuality. It was great to see the main character Elloren not only experience for herself all of these, witness them but overcome these obstacles. She teaches herself and others to be their own individual selves. Sorry I Love this book and cannot wait to read the sequel(s).
Date published: 2017-07-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great start to a series on diversity I love how much this book focuses on diversity - not just racial/ethnic diversity, but also cultural, sexual, religious, and other types of diversity as well. Though it takes Elloren a frustratingly long time to come to her realizations, it's a realistic depiction in that many people have a hard time seeing past their prejudices to empathize with others. Not only does Elloren empathize with her tormentors (once she starts to understand their views and do her own historical research), but she actually takes action to help them and plots to work against her increasingly xenophobic and totalitarian government. Elloren is a great of example of what we need most in the world - people who look beyond the current hate and vitriol to understand why others feel that way, people who do their own work and come to their own conclusions instead of just blindly accepting "history" or "the truth", and people who act when they see injustice. Elloren is persistent, compassionate, and brings people together to form diverse groups of individuals with common motivations, in a true display of acceptance and celebration of diversity.
Date published: 2017-06-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing and important I went into this book ready with my highlighter to flag all the prejudice perpetuated stereotypes and ended up forgetting all about that and just really enjoying the book (read the 600 page beast in less than 24 hours). Just to start this of the open-minded professors ("good" and favourite teacher of Elloren) said this when Elloren asked if her clothes were made, essentially, by slave labour/sweat shops and he told her the truth: "Don't thank me. Real education doesn't make your life easy. It complicates things and makes everything messy and disturbing. But the alternative, Elloren Gardner, is to live your life based on injustice and lies." Well I'm apparently just opening myself up to "you're a racist" I guess since I absolutely loved this book. YES, it deals with controversial topics and does not give you a fairy tale ending conclusions to all of them...BECAUSE IT'S A SERIES AND NOT ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS REALLY HAVE SOLUTIONS! 1. If you have not read the book, get your damn rating OFF of GoodReads. You people are literally why I decided to read this because you are skewing the ratings of someone's work and influencing others whether or not to read it. 2. We cannot in YA bitch and BITCH AND BITCH that we want diversity and when someone writes characters that are prejudice, racist, homophobic, etc. and then scream bloody murder that the book promotes racism. Acknowleding and dealing with racism in a book does not mean the author is a part of the KKK and trying to promote segregation! Growth of the characters and people on any topic is how the world will become better (stop with the "I don't want to read about a racist person becoming unracist" because you are missing the point, a part of the problem and doing yourself a disfavour). 3. This book is LITERALLY colonial North American history with a sprinkle of President Donald Trump and magic. So many people are unaware of the horrible shit we did in USA and Canada during settlement and if it takes a fantasy novel like this for people to get upset then fine by me. I am so tired of reading horrible news but I need to stay aware of what is going on and taking these problems and placing them in a fantasy setting make them much easier to digest. 4. Everyone has prejudices (white, brown, black, etc.) that come from somewhere (normally older generations or from a lack of exposure) The main character is raised by her sheltered but obviously feminist uncle who wants to protect her...then you meet her POS of an aunt (who is clearly a villain) along with some trashy other prejudice people from the city (also pretty obviously the villains). The ENTIRE book is Elloren being confronted with a prejudice her people have imposed (as well as the other races having their own prejudices) and then seeing that it's wrong...AND DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Elloren and her brothers are all very aware of this and join a freaking rebellion against Donald Trum--I mean...the racist, sexist, sociopathic government. Basically everyone on the "good" side is in an interracial friendship and/or romantic relationship and all the douches are...well very KKK-esk. I am super excited to read the sequel(s?) and I really suggest actually reading the book and just ignoring the ratings since apparently GoodReads users are just blatenly misusing the site.
Date published: 2017-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pick this book up! *I received an advanced reader copy of this book from Indigo Books & Music Inc. in exchange for an honest review* #indigoemployee I am practically at a loss for words after reading The Black Witch. It was simply magnificent. I devoured it as quickly as possible, and not once did the 600+ pages seem too long. This novel depicts the story of a young lady named Elloren Gardner. Elloren is trying to find her place in society after being removed from the sheltered life that she lived with a loving uncle. Thrust into the care of a cruel and racist aunt, she is sent to attend University. Lacking any magical skills, Elloren must work towards earning her keep in the school kitchens. She is exposed to many different cultures for the first time, and struggles under the racist opinions of her people. While she does originally foster racist thoughts, Elloren slowly forms her own opinions and eventually joins a rebellion to save all those whom she previously judged. Currently this book is receiving a lot of backlash due to a review that was published on Goodreads and Twitter renouncing the novel as racist and homophobic. I am extremely disappointed in the number of people that have blindly accepted this criticism without reading and forming their own opinions. This is a harsh story set in a brutal world filled with cruel characters, much like Game of Thrones and countless other successful and celebrated novels. The wizarding world that J.K. Rowling created was racist, sexist, and contained many hateful characters. Rowling described a harsh and cruel war in the fight towards equality. Yet, Harry Potter is loved worldwide. It pains me that we now live in a society where authors cannot imagine their own fantasy cultures without being branded as racist and homophobic. Forest merely chose to create a world where racism is present, showing it as a dark obstacle to overcome. The outcry that has stemmed from her novel is a form of censorship, plain and simple, and it worries me how many people have vowed to avoid this story. I personally love The Black Witch, and I will promote it passionately. Let our characters struggle in finding the right path. Let them stumble on the road to greatness. A perfect character is boring and predictable. I personally embrace character flaws, as they make the story that much more realistic and enjoyable. Please give this novel and chance and find out for yourself. I sure am glad that I did. For fans of: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, The Game of Thrones Series by George R.R. Martin and the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling.
Date published: 2017-05-02

Editorial Reviews

"A powerful start to a new series, and a very impressive first novel." -Locus