Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 416 pages
Release date: August 30, 2011
Book Source: ARC from S&S Canada
Reviewed by: Tynga
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.
The inhabitants of the Witchlands (Witchlanders) and the Bitterlands (Baens) have been at war for a few decades now and the spirits are heating up. Like looming war isn’t worry enough, the main characters (one boy from each faction) are also facing their own grieves and challenges. Will war destroy more lives than it already did or will the worst of it be avoided?
I truly liked Lena Coakley’s YA debut because she delivers such an original tale. Witches are feared and respected, and by their ability to Throw the Bones (literally), they can predict the future. Baens masters the ability to sing and each song has it’s own destructives rhythms. They can stop a man’s heart with just a few notes. In the middle of this magical battle, Falpian and Ryder are struggling.
The alternative narration between the two boys made wonders to deepen the story and improve our understanding of each of their reality. Also, the fact that they are male characters stands-out and shines bright like a lighthouse in a sea of female heroine in YA paranormal literature.
The plot was rather slow at first, I must admit, but picks-up when Falpian & Ryder finally meet. Their relationship is intricate and interesting on so many levels. They will fight side by side, but also against each other, struggling with their respective beliefs, trying to accomplish the right thing, even thought they both aspire to opposite outcomes.
I’ve never read anything like the Lore Lena offers to her readers, and it was quite frankly my favorite aspect. Different, magical and gripping, Witchlanders will swipe you off your feet and draw you in a fantastic and dangerous world where bedtime monsters are out to get you. The end is a killer cliffhanger and I can’t wait to know what comes next.
Beware, I find the cover somewhat misleading because a girls face is on it. It’s pretty yes, but could disappoint readers expecting a girl’s tale. The frosty feels of it is meaningful though.
In the end, all I have to say is Kudos to Lena Coakley for a job well done!