cover image Witchlanders


Lena Coakley. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (416p) ISBN 978-1-4424-2004-5

Living in the Witchlands, Ryder struggles to maintain his family's remote farm after his father's death. Falpian is a "blackhair" Baen prince from the Bitterlands, sent on a retreat to mourn his drowned twin. They are hereditary enemies, carrying the weight of disappointed expectations and unquestioned cultural assumptions. All his life, Ryder has been taught by his mother, the lapsed witch Mabis, to mock the prophecies of the coven that drove off the invading Baen army 20 years ago. When a drug-crazed Mabis returns to prophesying, Ryder considers her mad%E2%80%94until the prophecies begin coming true. And if this madness is true, what about his own visions of black-haired sisters or the strange power of the songs he sings in the fields? In her first novel, picture book author Coakley (Mrs. Goodhearth and the Gargoyle) takes on faith, doubt, and dualities, exposing their flaws and strengths alike. Plot twists unfold at a riveting pace, the boys' characters are compellingly sketched, and Coakley explores her subject matter masterfully without falling prey to safe plot choices. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (Aug.)