Author:     Laurie Forest
   Genre:    YA/Fantasy
   Pages:    601
   Format:   hardcover
   Rating:     4 star
A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.


Elloren Gardner is the granddaughter of the last prophesied Black Witch, Carnissa Gardner, who drove back the enemy forces and saved the Gardnerian people during the Realm War. But while she is the absolute spitting image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren joins her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University to embrace a destiny of her own, free from the shadow of her grandmother’s legacy. But she soon realizes that the university, which admits all manner of people—including the fire-wielding, winged Icarals, the sworn enemies of all Gardnerians—is a treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

As evil looms on the horizon and the pressure to live up to her heritage builds, everything Elloren thought she knew will be challenged and torn away. Her best hope of survival may be among the most unlikely band of misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.


Elloren is on her way to university – but her Aunt refuses to pay her tuition unless she wandfasts (engages) herself to a certain boy. Elloren promised her uncle she wouldn’t do so for two years. She knew going to university would be hard, her grandmother was a powerful mage after all, but Elloren is not. But the longer she stays at the university, the more she wonders about the past and the future. Elloren knows she isn’t safe – but she must begin to trust those she hates and fears most.

I had never heard of this author or series before, but witches, magic and more? Sign me up! I love books that have all the above. Plus, the concept of this book was wicked awesome. I knew I had to get my hands on it right away. And I am so pleased to say I really liked this book! I thought that it was amazing all around, lots of twists and turns. I could not put it down for anything! I just kept on reading and reading. This book made me fall in love with the characters, and that can sometimes be very difficult.

“Elloren,” Aunt Vyvian breathes, “you have grown into the absolute image of your grandmother.”

The characters are awesome. This book, although focused on Elloren, features a large cast. And that can be tricky to do, because sometimes it feels like none of the characters have depth. But in this case, there was a nice balance between fleshed out characters and characters who served a purpose. And you don’t know who is who until the very end of the book. I respected that. Enjoyed it. But it was a cliffhanger!

Elloren is a girl who is strung between two worlds, the one she wishes she was in, and the one she is in. Her grandmother was a great and powerful mage, and she, who looks exactly like her, is not. This puts her at odds with people, and herself multiple times. It is nice to see her grow and change and become a better person. This book was focused on compassion, understanding and justice, and Elloren goes on that journey and as you follow her you learn more and more about these different types of people, of how twisted her society is.

I resolve to find out the truth for myself.

And while there is a plot to her having to live up to her heritage, it is the characters who drive this book. It is the characters who make the book. And Forest has done that very well. You’re going to have a love/hate relationship with 90% of the characters in this book. You’re going to want them to succeed – and fail.

But the actual plot itself, as Elloren tries to come to terms with her heritage is one fraught with peril. There are those who want her dead, and those who want her to succeed. And you can’t be sure those people are friends or enemies…and that’s why the characters pushing the plot forward works so well.

Another huge plus – no love triangle! There are romances in this book, but they aren’t a main part of the plot. They’re a facet of it, and they make the plot move forward. And it works for this book, it works so much so that I could actually believe in those romances. (Even if they were pretty close to insta-love, I’ll take it because it wasn’t done horribly.)

Stubbornly set on the harder path, I shoulder on.

The writing in the book itself is spectacular. I really got to know this world that she crafted, and as I said before we were fed information about this book piecemeal. There wasn’t a huge info dump at the beginning of the book. We are slowly introduced to all sorts of people and characters as we follow Elloren on her journey. But we also learn the political aspects of this world too, and its history.

Overall, Forest has created a great book, and I am so excited to read the next one in the series!