This book is everything My review to come. Touted as The Handmaid s Tale meets Salem, The Year of the Witching if definitely a deliciously dark tale you don t want to miss out on.Filled with terrifying scenes of both the macabre and dark times for women, this is one read that will keep you flipping the pages and utterly enthralled at its uniqueness With jaw dropping moments and heart pounding danger, not to mention the gruesome detail and imagery, this is definitely a story that just might keep you up at night in all ways possible Definitely a read for those that aren t faint of heart ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A Young Woman Living In A Rigid, Puritanical Society Discovers Dark Powers Within Herself In This Stunning, Feminist Fantasy DebutIn The Lands Of Bethel, Where The Prophet S Word Is Law, Immanuelle Moore S Very Existence Is Blasphemy Her Mother S Union With An Outsider Of A Different Race Cast Her Once Proud Family Into Disgrace, So Immanuelle Does Her Best To Worship The Father, Follow Holy Protocol, And Lead A Life Of Submission, Devotion, And Absolute Conformity, Like All The Other Women In The SettlementBut A Mishap Lures Her Into The Forbidden Darkwood Surrounding Bethel, Where The First Prophet Once Chased And Killed Four Powerful Witches Their Spirits Are Still Lurking There, And They Bestow A Gift On Immanuelle The Journal Of Her Dead Mother, Who Immanuelle Is Shocked To Learn Once Sought Sanctuary In The WoodFascinated By The Secrets In The Diary, Immanuelle Finds Herself Struggling To Understand How Her Mother Could Have Consorted With The Witches But When She Begins To Learn Grim Truths About The Church And Its History, She Realizes The True Threat To Bethel Is Its Own Darkness And She Starts To Understand That If Bethel Is To Change, It Must Begin With Her This sounds a lot like THE GRACE YEAR but I hope it s better than THE GRACE YEAR The Year of the Witching was pitched as being inspired by The VVitch, so perhaps it s on me for allowing my expectations to climb sky high due to the association with one of my favorite movies of all time The VVitch is disturbing and unsettling and claustrophobic The Year of the Witching is standard YA fantasy fare, and this despite the fact that it is not YA fantasy, but adult Immanuelle is a character I struggled to get a grasp on, and perhaps that is because she is sogeneric, almost as though, rather than an actual person, she s just a stand in and mouthpiece for the various themes and ideas about gender and race that are heavy handedly hammered through the narrative with zero subtlety Similarly, the love interest, Ezra was milquetoast and bland how convenient it is that despite his upbringing in this super patriarchal world he s magically a Good Guy and Rational Thinker His romance with Immanuelle felt completely shoehorned into a narrative where it didn t belong.There are some brief scenes and lines where the narrative starts to verge on horror, but these are few and far between, so the book as a whole never quite gets there, never reaches that apex of dread that The WWitch manages so easily Oddly, the stakes never felt high enough, even though the stakes are literally death by plagues, but maybe this is just because I didn t care about any of the characters very much The main thing this book has going for it is its readability I sped through it and generally enjoyed my time reading it, even if I had issues and was sorely disappointed The writing is fine, the plot comes together just fine, and it s a decent enough book, but it had so much unused potential, discarded in exchange for standard fare YA romance and a generic protagonist But part of this is on me, for having some very specific expectations, and I can t blame the book for not meeting those, since it is clearly aiming to be something very different from what I had expected Since it was successful in fulfilling its own aims and it never bored me, it gets a 2.5 star rating from me 3.5 stars rounded up for the moment, but might round down depending on how I feel The Year of the Witching has been described as a mix of The Handmaid s Tale and The Vvitch Salem, but I could honestly see many religious cults being used as a comparison here Despite the easy comparisons I would say loose comparisons , this book felt very unique and original.This was a fascinating book, it is slow and quiet in a way, but filled with creepy scenery and almostdisturbing because of how lowkey it was I do wish that the world building had been explained , I was often confused by the magical stuff So there s the community, the outskirts, the forest that is run by zombie witches which people can t go into, and then some vague backstory with the zombie witches the cult founder Some people have marks that identify them as witches but aren t zombie witches but zombie witches might want them to join and become zombie witches and might brainwash people, and there s census type information that could show that And people get burnt at the stake for a lot of reasons It felt both vague and confusing, but the vagueness could have been intended to add to the creepy vibe Regardless, there could have beenof a balance between vague and mysterious as the character figures things out, and some concrete answers The book was written in a very old fashioned sense that fit the time period fit with the book, which at times did make the characters feeldistant, but suited the book Despite the tonal distance, the author did a good job of describing how Immanuele started to turn away from the cult, starting out with someone with some quiet rebellious thoughts but still a member of the cult and still afraid to do anything not allowed by the cult There are themes here of race the main character is mixed race , misogyny, complex family dynamics, and of course, witchcraft and religion Some of the themes could have been exploredin depth, but ultimately this was a satisfying and well thought out book that I will recommend to people. What a sensational debut Henderson wove the most deliciously dark tale and I wanted to savor it as long as I could Haunting, horrifying, and so, so human I could not put this story down Review to come upon release. I tore through this book in a single day It s the exact kind of witchy tale I ve been looking for The kind of achingly tense, terrifying atmosphere you get in horror with the tear it all down politics of today s best fantasy Highly recommend I meanI think it s pretty good.