cover image The Year of the Witching

The Year of the Witching

Alexis Henderson. Ace, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-593-09960-5

Henderson’s bewitching feminist fantasy debut draws readers into a world of harsh contrasts and dark magic. Immanuelle’s mother dies in childbirth, proclaiming, with her dying breath, that her baby is “a curse.” Now a teenager, Immanuelle can’t find her place in the rigid, puritanical society of Bethel as the mixed-race daughter of a woman remembered only for adultery, madness, and an association with witchcraft. The forbidden Darkwood on the outskirts of town whispers to Immanuelle, and when she finally gives in and wanders into its thickets, the spirits of the town’s murdered witches bequeath her with Miriam’s journal. As Immanuelle learns more about her mother’s history and her own connection to the Darkwood, a series of plagues befall Bethel. With her newfound magic, Immanuelle, the town’s shunned, blasphemous daughter, may be the only one with the power to stop them. Henderson offers a powerful portrait of patriarchal, racial, and religious abuses in Bethel society, conjuring a sense of creeping dread and maintaining the pacing throughout. This riveting work announces Henderson as an exciting new voice in dark fantasy. Agent: Brooks Sherman, Janklow & Nesbit. (July)