A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.
Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.
When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother's legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.
As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she's been taught to hate and fear.
"This briskly paced, tightly plotted novel enacts the transformative power of education, creating engaging characters set in a rich alternative universe with a complicated history that can help us better understand our own. A massive page-turner that leaves readers longing for more."
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"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
"I absolutely loved The Black Witch and will have a very hard time waiting for the second book! Maximum suspense, unusual magic–a whole new, thrilling approach to fantasy!"
Tamora Pierce, #1 New York Times bestselling author
"The Black Witch is a refreshing, powerful young adult fantasy. This strong debut offers an uncompromising glimpse of world-altering politics amplified by a magical setting in which prejudice and discrimination cut both ways."
Robin Hobb, New York Times bestselling author
"We fell under the spell of this rich, diverse, Potter-worthy university world! Characters that come alive off the page, tangled relationships, swoonworthy romance! Love the fresh way this also tackles prejudice. Prepare to fangirl!"
About the author
Laurie Forest lives deep in the backwoods of Vermont where she sits in front of a wood stove drinking strong tea and dreaming up tales full of dryads, dragons, and wands. The Black Witch is her first novel.
In this intoxicating tale of rebellion and star-crossed romance, 17-year-old Elloren Gardner enrolls at Verpax University to study healing. Elloren's grandmother Carnissa was a powerful Mage known as the Black Witch, who led Gardneria to victory in the Realm War. Some think Elloren will fulfill a legendary prophecy and follow in Carnissa's footsteps, but though Elloren resembles the Black Witch, she possesses no magic. Still, Elloren is hated by those on campus whose people Carnissa helped subjugate. Out of loneliness, Elloren befriends Verpax's other outcasts, many of whom belong to races she's been taught to fear or disdain. She begins to question everything she knows about Gardneria's history and culture, and realizes that there's good reason for the growing opposition to her country's new government. Exquisite character work, an elaborate mythology, and a spectacularly rendered universe make this a noteworthy debut, which argues passionately against fascism and xenophobia. Though the worldbuilding is initially dense, the pace and stakes increase exponentially, and the thrilling conclusion will leave readers eager for the next book in this series. Ages 14 up.