Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review: Heart of the Witch by Judy Goodwin

Heart of the Witch
Heart of the Witch by Judy Goodwin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A thrilling adventure.

Heart of the Witch follows Zerrick, a young man who practices magic in secret under the tutelage of Alden, an old herbalist. The problem is, he lives in a town becoming more and more afraid of "witches" and the power they wield. No one would ever suspect that the witch everyone is so afraid of is Zerrick, the son of the town's pastor, a devout follower of Iahmel, whose purpose is to rile the town against the threat of witches.

Zerrick, hearing differing histories and views from both his father and his mentor, is conflicted from the start. On the one hand, he is taught that magic is evil and dangerous, a gateway to the domain of Angist. His father also teaches that Ainera, the Goddess of magic, is also evil, a trickster to fool people into using and abusing their magic. On the other hand, Zerrick is taught that Ainera and the magic are not inherently evil and that the magic is natural and beneficial. Only men with evil hearts who listen to the lies of Angist use it for evil. This contradiction forces Zerrick to consider each side for himself. But the conflict doesn't remain an internal one for long, because the benevolent Ainera and the evil Angist eventually take note of him.

Overall, the plot, characters, mythology, and cultures within the story are both well-developed and believable. I enjoyed the parallels drawn with Christianity and with colonial pilgrims (including their fear of witchcraft). Although this is a work of fiction, it's obvious the author draws from extensive knowledge of these subjects to weave such a vibrant world.

I love this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves thought-provoking fantasy that doesn't strictly adhere to the cliched norms of the fantasy genre.

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest, non-reciprocal review.

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