Author: J.A White
Published: May 6th 2014 by Katherine Tegen Books
Sort: Stand-alone, Middle grade.
Source: Edelweiss & Publisher.
Hand in hand, the witch's children walked down the empty road. When Kara Westfall was six years old, her mother was convicted of the worst of all crimes: witchcraft. Years later, Kara and her little brother, Taff, are still shunned by the people of their village, who believe that nothing is more evil than magic . . . except, perhaps, the mysterious forest that covers nearly the entire island. It has many names, this place. Sometimes it is called the Dark Wood, or Sordyr's Realm. But mostly it's called the Thickety. The black-leaved trees swayed toward Kara and then away, as though beckoning her. The villagers live in fear of the Thickety and the terrible creatures that live there. But when an unusual bird lures Kara into the forbidden forest, she discovers a strange book with unspeakable powers. A book that might have belonged to her mother. And that is just the beginning of the story.
Kara raises her brother Taff after her mother’s death the night she was found to be a witch. Her father is shattered by her death and all he does is scribbling tales in a notebook. Kara was tested, but she was free of magic; that’s what she has been telling herself too. But when she finds her mother’s diary, all the barriers break down and Kara finds out that she is good with animal magic. Grace is loved by the village, but she harbours a dark heart and bad intentions. She takes Kara’s grimoire away and starts a destruction only Kara can end.
If you have a sensitive child, I don’t recommend this book. It’s dark and can be scary for a younger audience. I personally loved that aspect. Kara is suffering from her mother’s execution. People are talking smack behind her back and everyone looks disdainful at her and her family. Her father’s mental break down doesn’t make it any easier. Taff is sick and Kara does everything to nurse him, even when that means she has to take everything from Grace. This girl might have the looks of an angel, she is evil. It was sad to see how bad people treat Kara and how easy they believe everything Grace tells them. It is also a realistic portrayal of life and I found Kara such an admirable girl. She deals with it and doesn’t let them take her spirit away.
It was interesting to see how the magic pulls her away from her friendly nature. Every chapter becomes darker and darker, until Kara is completely wrapped in dark magic. This reminded me of Rumplestiltskin:
It’s a good thing Kara has support from an unexpected friend. It’s hard for her to battle against it, but she friends the strength; something Grace doesn’t have. This girl.. Even her last act of magic is one to punish Kara and I was very surprised by that twist on the end! I first wasn’t aware this was part of a series, but that ending shows me that a sequel is coming and I can’t wait.