The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

“Men like the Prophet, who lurked and lusted after the innocent, who found joy in their pain, who brutalized and broke them down until they were nothing, exploiting those they were meant to protect. The Church, which not only excused and forgave the sins of its leaders but enabled them: with the Protocol and the market stocks, with muzzles and lashings and twisted Scriptures. It was the whole of them, the heart of Bethel itself, that made certain every woman who lived behind its gate had only two choices: resignation, or ruin.”

I’ve read many reviews comparing The Year of the Witching to The Handmaid’s Tale, but I don’t think that is quite right. They both share the theme of the subjugation of woman and girls justified by religion, to be sure, but The Year of the Witching goes further. It is more of a treatise on sexism, classism, polygamy, and racism.

The female protagonist, Immanuelle Moore, is the product of the union between her mother and and an outsider of another race. While her mother dies in childbirth, the rest Moore family is cast into disgrace. They are stripped of there lands and income.

Immanuelle tries her best to live by scriptures, teachings of the Prophet, and the protocol of the town of Bethel, but due to her mother’s actions, she is cast as an outsider with dark powers.

Bethel is surrounded by the Darkwood, where the first Prophet killed the witches living there, but it turns out the witches may be more powerful. Once Immanuelle goes into the Darkwood she is given her mother’s diary. After that, things go sideways for Immanuelle and Bethel.

The Year of the Witching is a haunting, atmospheric, brutal, and dare I say, bewitching tale. The horror creeps in with a slow burn that steadily increases into a roaring flame.

Maybe it has flavors of The Handmaid’s Tale, the FLDS cult, Salem, and VVitch, but ultimately The Year of the Witching is it’s own original tale.

And you know the old saying ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover?’ Well, you can in this case. The Year of the Witching is as beautiful and haunting as the cover art promises it to be.

5/5 stars

Happy reading y’all,

Wendy

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