The Year of Witching by Alexis Henderson

To be a woman is to be a sacrifice.

A dark witchy book to continue Spooktober, be warned, don’t read this one with the lights out.


A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In 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 settlement.

But 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 wood.

Fascinated 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.

My Thoughts

I devoured this audiobook. The Year of the Witching is a perfect twist on books/movies/shows such as Handmaid’s Tale, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, The Village, and the Salem Witch Trials.

Immanuelle must embrace her mother’s past to move forward. This is easier said than done, as the Darkwood holds more power over Immanuelle than she thought. The Year of the Witching is vexing, chilling, and at times scary. The witches in the Darkwood will haunt your dreams just like Immanuelle.

There is not a lot of world-building in The Year of the Witching, but it is not needed. You are shown exactly what you need to know through the unfair treatment of not only Immanuelle but many of the women in Bethel. I did want a clear distribution of the religious system up front, but over time it was explained. In between what Immanuelle learns in her mother’s journal and working with the Prophet’s son, it becomes clear how corrupted Bethel has become.

It is hard to pick one character who did not experience something traumatic. While what the characters endure is alarming and at times enraging, what is just as terrifying is the building suspense for BLOOD… BLIGHT…DARKNESS….SLAUGHTER.

I enjoyed this unsettling read so much, I have trouble putting my praise into words. The Year of the Witching is easily one of my favorite reads of 2021. I can only home Henderson has plans to continue to write within this universe.

Should you read The Year of the Witching?

YES! I highly recommend the audiobook, it adds a scary factor to all of the dark wood walks Immanuelle takes.

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