Sunday, June 19, 2011
Coakley, Lena: Witchlanders
224 pages, Athenum
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.
Ryder has a lot on his plate - a farm that he has to tend alone after the death of his Fa, a so-called witch mother addicted to the maiden's woe that both incurs visions and an early death...and the dreams. There is a Baen in his head, that he is sure of - an enemy witch, playing games with his mind, even as his mother claims that she has seen her most important prophecy: an assassin across the mountains that he must stop.
Falpain is in mourning for his twin brother and supposed soul mate. Sent by his father to Stonehouse for seclusion, he is all too aware of the invisible barrier between Witchlander and Baen, and the consequences of crossing it. But for the sake of his family, he knows all too well that he will have to face death in the eye. He doesn't know how soon that will be.
Coakley seamlessly alternates and merges the two points of view, raising sympathy for Ryder in one moment before she turns back to Falpain's mind for clarification in the next. I particularly loved how she created her own patchwork world out of various traditions and suggestions of real world cultures - ie. a village that sounds European in its way of life, golems and spoiled boys who are allowed lapdogs.
Warnings: Character deaths, golem attacks and fearsome spiders - if that type of thing bothers anyone except for a certain person who watched Arachnophobia *shudders*
And let's tally up the rating points!
Believable, likeable hero
I was really fortunate to notice this title in this month's S&S Galley Grab. Definitely one of the more enjoyable books I've had occasion to peruse this year, and one that I highly recommend. I hope that there will be a sequel.