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The Year of the Witching  By  cover art

The Year of the Witching

By: Alexis Henderson
Narrated by: Brianna Colette
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Village in this stunning feminist debut....

Born on the fringes of Bethel, Immanuelle does her best to obey the Church and follow Holy Protocol. For it was in Bethel that the first Prophet pursued and killed four powerful witches and so cleansed the land.

And then a chance encounter lures her into the Darkwood that surrounds Bethel.

It is a forbidden place, haunted by the spirits of the witches who bestow an extraordinary gift on Immanuelle. The diary of her dead mother....

Fascinated by and fearful of the secrets the diary reveals, Immanuelle begins to understand why her mother once consorted with witches. And as the truth about the Prophets, the Church and their history is revealed, so Immanuelle understands what must be done. For the real threat to Bethel is its own darkness.

Bethel must change. And that change will begin with her....

©2020 Alexis Henderson (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A thrillingly brisk and bracing tale of magic and power...it takes the best tropes of horror and witchcraft and gives them a refreshingly feminist twist." (S.A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass

What listeners say about The Year of the Witching

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Profile Image for Carly
  • Carly
  • 08-01-20

Spell bound!

I couldn't listen to this book fast enough. It was completely enthralling. I found myself unable to read,listen, or watch anything else.
It will stay with you for a long time!

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Kunde
  • 11-07-20

Loved this!

It was so suspenseful and I‘m gutted it‘s over. I loved how it touched upon feminism, had some queer representation and talked about colourism/race in a way that didn’t feel harsh or simply stylistic. I‘ll have to say this is my favourite book of the year and can‘t see anything topping this!

2 people found this helpful

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  • H E Perkins
  • 02-18-22

Simply Wonderful Witchy Tale

Loved every minute of it! Such a good story kept me wanting more and the characters were so inviting! Brilliant narration too really helped with focusing on the plotline and not distracting. If you like anything witch related or dark fantasy then this is for you.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Jade
  • 12-13-20

good book

good book. but felt a little young.
probably more suited to teen or young adult.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 10-19-20

A bit disappointing

I loved the ideas of this book, unfortunately I don't think they were executed as well as they could have been. The narration was not bad, but lacked a bit of life. Overall, the whole story seemed a little "meh" for lack of a better word. I didn't feel like you really connected with any of the characters, and they were all a bit bland. Had some great descriptions in it though, but it was a bit like the author couldn't decide when this was meant to be set; and for me, that distracted me as something about the whole book just seemed a bit off.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-12-20

Breath Taking

loved this from beginning to end, truly captivating and had me on the edge of my seat

1 person found this helpful

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  • angedan
  • 04-15-22

Very entertaining...

I love twitchy stories as was this book and I enjoyed the romance too ...

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  • little_july_rainbow
  • 03-29-22

A must!

There was nothing about the book I didn’t love! It’s gems like this that keep me coming back to audible.

Everything about it was fantastic. I can not rate it highly enough especially to fellow witches.

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  • Debbie
  • 01-04-21

Brilliant

Absolutely stunning read. I can see this as something Netflix could make and scare the pants of all of us.
A bloody tale of betrayal on a group of women whose only crime was all held the lineage. Recorded by the "church" as witches the current prophet holds dominium and his word is final.
The fact that he has hidden what he is doing is what drives these women to make a change. The last living of them is Immanuel, whose father was burned on a pyre and her mother driven to madness, she is the last hope, the strongest and the best equipped. With Ezra, the prophets son at her back they can face anything .... can't they?

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  • Candice Appleby
  • 10-15-21

Thank god that's over!

I have been so bored with this, I just stuck it out because I used my monthly credit on it. pretty dull, monotone narration, and the two main characters have very similar names which led to confusion for me the entire book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Samantha
  • 09-30-21

Powerfully written

"Isn't it strange how reading a book is a sin, but locking a girl in the stocks and leaving her to the dogs is another day of the Good Father's work?"

The Year of the Witching is a stand out social commentary book of 2020, wrapped in beautiful fantasy horror casing. It touches on many themes within its beautifully written pages, including, but not limited to: sexism, racism, classism and religious ostracism.

TW: Parent Death, Death during Childbirth, Animal Sacrifice, Body Horror, Mutilation, Self Harm, Rape, Paedophilia, Plagues, Religion

We're set in a secluded town called Bethel, where the ruling class are the devout believers of the Father, in particular the Prophet who is the spokesman of the Father. This is a dystopian nightmare for anyone who is not devout, white or male. Women are taught that they serve one purpose: to serve their husbands and their family. If they were lucky they were chosen to serve the Prophet amongst his numerous wives. Women are property and are marked as such, with the Prophet cutting his mark into their forehead so everyone knows that they belong to him.

Immanuelle Moore is the young, brave MC of this novel who is judged by her parents sins. She has never had the chance to truly be herself out of the shadows of her mother, who left Bethel and entered the Darkwood, rebuked the Prophet and fell in love with an outsider, emerged from the Darkwood pregnant with Immanuelle, her love was burned at the pyre for their 'sins' and then she died giving birth to Immanuelle. Due to events out of her control, Immanuelle's life was forever altered and no matter what she did, she was always prejudged and was starting off at a disadvantage. She tries not to let this get to her and lives an empathetic, compassionate life thinking of how events impacts others, often letting herself get in the way of trouble to help others.

The witches in the Darkwood gift her her mothers diary, when Immanuelle ends up in the Darkwood unwillingly, which then leads her down a path that she can never turn back from. Fighting for her life and for the people of Bethel's lives, even if they would love to see her burned at the pyre. I loved the way that the witches were depicted, they were vengeful, they were strong, they were filled with ancient power and mysticism. There are no cookie cutter witches here.

There is a surprising romance in this novel, which I found to be quite heartwarming and added soul into the novel. I don't want to say too much about it, other than I absolutely loved Ezra as a character, a friend, and a LI.

"... complacency and complicity that were responsible for the deaths of generations of girls. It was the sickness that placed the pride of men before the innocents they were sworn to protect. It was a structure that exploited the weakest among them for the benefit of those born to power"

The feminist writings within this novel were incredibly powerful. There are very strong points made about the way that men in power kneel on the necks of girls and women in order to keep their power. The strength of these messages come from the journey you go through whilst reading this novel, and so I don't want to delve too deeply into it as I feel it's something best experienced personally.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Jess Ryan-White
  • 07-12-21

Absolutely stunning

Great story, great characters, beautifully written. It’s darker than your average YA, and a little more grounded, and I hung on every word!

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-29-20

A glimpse back to the past

Good book to listen to. Sad hearing about the subjection woman were put through at the mercy of religion.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Cassie O'Leary
  • 03-09-21

Best Witch book

This is truly an amazing story one of a kind, if you love witch story's and an coming of age for a young women this is the book for you.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Bree
  • 09-02-22

Overhyped and forgettable

I picked this up because it was being praised on Booktube, but it didn't live up to the hype for me. I did like the general world building but the characters and the storyline were boring. Also, I listened to this book a few months ago and I've already forgotten most of the details. It will probably be more meaningful to you if you care about American history and politics, though.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Ashley Clarke
  • 11-27-22

Cultish Convenience

I really thought I would love this but it's a little too messy, contrived and cultish for me.
The religious element is HEAVY, I get that that's part of the point but it smothered the plot instead of giving purpose to it.
There are minor characters who appear once or twice to help or hinder our MCs at convenient moments only to disappear again.
The witches and the church are at war with each other and everyone else is stuck in between, it's just a mess. I wanted to see a deeper dive into what lead to this cultural of abuse and blind faith, what set the supernatural against the town, a stronger development of world, history, character, but it's just not there. Some good horror elements and spooky forest vibes though.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Katie
  • Katie
  • 09-20-22

The Year of The Witching

The Year of the Witching was an interesting and well written book, however, don’t go into this expecting something new and unique.

I knew when I started that this book would follow a similar story line to The Grace Year and obviously, The Handmaid’s Tale, so I wasn’t too phased by the similarities. I read a few reviews that were upset at the unoriginality of ‘women/bad’, ‘darker skin/bad’ but I think that rather then been unoriginal, that storyline just follows what we have witnessed as a typical racist and misogynistic mindset throughout history.

I liked Henderson’s views on this but thought that this book really would have been improved if it was written from an adults perspective rather than a teenagers. There was a few tropes and ideas that I thought would have impacted the reader more if they were written from an adults point of view. This book does follow some typical YA tropes, with the romance side of it and the underdeveloped side characters. I would have loved to delve into the characters more but then the book would have been far longer.

The horror aspect was great, I really loved reading Henderson’s explanations of the witches and the plagues and thought her monsters and gore scenes were great. I wish there had been more of the four witches as they were very interesting characters and I would have loved to explore their evil more. I also wish there had been more horror, I love my horror novels been filled with terrifying creatures and really revolting scenes and I felt that this book would have benefited from that.

Finally, the ending of the book was a bit of a letdown for me. I though it all concluded very easily and didn’t have any of the grittiness that was displayed in the rest of the book unfortunately.

All in all, it was a good book and an interesting read. The audiobook was great, really well narrated and easy to listen to.