Book Review: The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

Real education doesn’t make your life easy. It complicates things and makes everything messy and disturbing. But the alternative, Elloren Gardner, is to live your life based on injustice and lies.

A not-so-spooky read to continue Spooktober.


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 rebels…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to fear.

My Thoughts

I picked this audiobook from a recommendation on Twitter. Fellow reader, whoever you are, thank you. I gobbled The Black Witch up. It was a wonderful YA break from the adult fantasy I have been reading lately. I used my audible credit blind and did not read much into what The Black Witch was about.

I loved this book. It was a slow start for me, but a few chapters in I was hooked. Before finishing the audiobook, I bought the rest of the series as an ebook. For a YA fantasy, The Black Witch was enjoyable, and light-hearted at times, yet covered controversial topics.

I liked that the main character, Elloren, she didn’t follow the typical path. She didn’t form amazing powers and embrace this prophecy she will obviously fulfill in the future (I am assuming). Instead, Elloren spends her days at the university facing the unpleasant reality that the views and beliefs of her people are founded on half-truths and prejudices. Sadly, these beliefs have been deeply ingrained into her culture.

Elloren grew into someone who held her own values that differed from those being forced on her. I can only assume that she will continue to develop into a well-rounded person who will push back to “the norm” of her people. I enjoyed the shift of perspective not only within Elloren but the other characters as well. There were a few scenes towards the end of the book that showcased their change.

The Black Witch explored more than magic, friendship, and family bonds. Forest dives deep into racism, stereotypes, and the harm those values cause to groups of people as one race comes into power. These topics are addressed within the rich world Forest has created. I am impressed with the amount of detail she put into the types of races in The Black Witch, all with a deeply intertwined history as complex as our own histories.

I was awestruck. I had no idea The Black Witch would cover such topics. I admit, at first, I kept listening for the cliché petty rivalries and a budding love triangle. As the story unfolded, I became invested in the politics of the world on the verge of something awful…instead of who Elloren attended the Yule dance with.

Once I finish all of the books, I will write a full series review :).

Should you read The Black Witch?

Yes! The Black Witch was a surprisingly interesting YA. If you are looking for your next YA, give The Black Witch a try.


  1. Vee

    I liked The Black Witch, too! It is a really good YA fantasy that has the world building of a high fantasy story and a really great found family trope.
    I still have to read the rest of the books in the series but I’m looking forward to reading your review!

    Liked by 1 person

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