By: Lena Coakley
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.
This book was not at all what I thought it would be from the synopsis. I thought it would be more of a journey story with a definite end. I had no idea there was going to be a second narrator. Not all of these were things I didn't, but I did have a few things I didn't like about the book. However, of course there was a ton of great story in there, too.
Things I didn't like:
-The bizarre lack of time spans given. By this I mean that I don't think it's mentioned how old any of the characters are (main characters included). I'm still not sure how long ago the war was from the events happening inside the arc of the book. This lack of details made the story seem less grounded. It was hard to think about time in the world because it simply wasn't mentioned (or it wasn't mentioned in reference to actual events.) It made me feel like details were sort of floating around, but I couldn't grasp any of them because I wasn't sure about the history of the kingdoms.
-Speaking of which, the political aspect was a bit muddled as well. I know that it had to be to focus on the religious aspect of their cultures, but I would have appreciated a little more detail. I wanted to see more authority shown from somewhere, anywhere.
-There was a general lack of description. There are bits and pieces of detail, but only in odd places. I couldn't picture anything, so I didn't feel as connected as I could have to the story.
-When Falpian and Ryder were together the narrative got a bit muddled. It was easy enough to follow when they were separate. But with the third-person perspective, it was all too blurry when they were together. It would switch focus between paragraphs and throw me for a second.
Things I did like:
- I liked the story. It spoke to some deeper themes and made you think about them. It talked about prejudice and biases past down through cultures until you can't quite remember where the hate all came from. It did it in an intricate way that led you to a moment of discovery toward the end (while making it clear through the beginning of the story as well).
-I liked the world, even if I think it could use a bit more building in the imagery and political departments. What we saw of the world was interesting and complex.
Overall, this was a pretty great story. It got you thinking about some pretty deep themes. The characters were interesting, as was the world.
"Any star tries to tell me my destiny, I will wrench it from the sky."
"Why did people shrink away from winter, he wondered, safe in their blankets, hiding by their fires? If they knew how beautiful winter really was, they would walk out naked into the snow, walk and walk, until their frozen hearts split open with joy."
"I am the youth...It is unbelievable that you can't imagine that we might be inspired by this knowledge. You are robbing us. You are turning our history to rubble."
"The present catches up to the future with alarming speed..."
"He wondered how the world could be both sides of a coin at the same time: silence and song."