Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate
Author: J.A. White
Illustrator: Andrea Offermann
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Kara’s mother is killed for witchcraft when Kara is only six years old. She grows up as an outcast, doing her best to take care of her little brother, Taff, and her distant father. The villagers believe that nothing is more evil than magic except the Thickety, the forest where Sordyr lives. One day a bird lures Kara into the Thickety and she discovers a book that may have belonged to her mother. In spite of the danger that she is in from associating with magic, Kara can’t stop feeling drawn to the book and discovering new ways to use the new magic she is exposed to. Kara has to discover the secrets behind her mother’s witchcraft to save her little brother and the village from another more devious magic user. Kara learns that magic is power, and power often kills.
This book has a dark tone of grief and death that is uncommon for fantasy books in this age range, but it still manages to be wonderfully magical. Kara deals with an addiction to magic, and her horrible treatment from the villagers make her bad decisions seem justifiable. She realizes that her bad actions in the end are not okay, but other characters do not and the ending is as dark as the rest of the book. Kara’s character development is interesting, but some of the other characters have gaps that might bother older readers but younger readers will likely fill in with their own enemies. The first part of the book is interesting, but it seems to drag out for part of the book and sometimes it seems dark just for the sake of being dark. For readers who like darker stories about witchcraft, this book will likely be thrilling.