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The Black Witch

The Black Witch Chronicles, Book 1
Written by: Laurie Forest
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
Length: 18 hrs and 11 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (37 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining.

So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa's heir - but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else.

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally 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 an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

©2017 Laurie Forest (P)2017 Harlequin Enterprises, Limited.

What the critics say

"This ambitious story is impressively narrated by the talented Julia Whelan, who creatively details its world of intricate magical practices and diverse inhabitants.... Whelan ably creates and sustains a wide cast of characters with intriguing and faithfully distinguished voices. Most importantly, she cultivates listeners' connection with flawed but ultimately good-hearted Elloren, whose first-person story portrays her fumbling attempts at understanding a wider world." ( AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Fun Book

If you're calling this book racist you either haven't read it or are an idiot. This book is ILLUSTRATING racism and the repercussions of it. It is CONVEYING the sickness and nonsense of racism not condoning it! Get a grip people.

First let me say the narrator is not my cup of tea. She is hopelessly breathy and whispery and it grinded on my nerves quite a bit. I like a clear sounding narrator sans Marylin Monroe breathiness (Sorry Julia!) Besides that I DID think the narrator was great at conveying the different characters so kudos for that. This is often a challenge for narrators but she did great switching. One note to her: look up the pronunciation of the word rifle or rifling. You are saying it wrong honey.

Now...on to the actual contents of the book!

GREAT JUVENILE FUN FLUFFY MAGICK content and I want to know what comes next so all in all I do recommend it but be prepared to listen to the the raging hormonal thoughts of the main character which sometimes makes you cringe but also sometimes makes you long for that feeling! The favourite part for me is THE CONFLICTED DISCOVERIES AND SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENT AND GROWTH OF THE CHARACTER TOWARDS A LESS IGNORANT WORLD VIEW!
Don't listen to these morons trashing the book. It's complete nonsense.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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I wanted a fantasy book and got racist Hogwarts.

I had high hopes, but for a very, very wide gap, nothing happens. It's boring to listen to, as the only excitement happens nearly 17 hours in.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Outstanding!

Wow. Incredible and heart wrenching. Highly recommend. Team Lukas!! I cannot wait for the next book

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A fantastic enlightening read

I loved this book. I found the characters to be full of personality and loveable. The racial/religious divides in the book are at times sad to read, but I loved experiencing how the characters overcome their prejudices and grow. I couldn’t put this book down.
I enjoyed every aspect of the narration. She was fantastic and had a different voice for every character.
I cannot wait for the next book in this series.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Raquel
  • 2017-10-28

The controversy should make you want to read this book!

I was intrigued when I first saw the publisher’s synopsis of The Black Witch, but then I read further and discovered all the controversy and negative press surrounding this book. When the public makes premature judgments and starts leaning toward book banning without so much as cracking the binding, I knew I had to find out more and I am so glad I did! The Black Witch is based in a fantasy world, but the protagonist, is dealing with issues of stereotypes, class divisions, racism, misogyny, and still darker real world issues loom. Like each of us, the main character has her flaws. She is often part of her society’s problems, but this story is about the journey of her self-discovery, how her world is not the idyllic place she believed, and how even the vast differences amongst those she comes in contact with cannot hide the beauty of what they have in common and will fight for, together.

60 of 62 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2017-05-04

Amazing

I have read a lot of controversy around this book... after reading it I find that it's nothing like the people were ranting about. The main character was a sheltered girl who lives in a world of racism and makes friends and breaks down boundaries slowly. The book itself is fast paced and I highly doubt you will find a slow moment in the book.


Only complaint is that she is sometimes very sheltered.

44 of 46 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • leanne
  • 2017-07-26

Amazing but...

If you are staunch in your religion, political views or sexual orientation this book is not for you (though you need to listen to it more than the rest of the populace.) The book touched on each of these subjects directly but not offensively. It has been a while since I've found a book that I simply couldn't stop listening to and I want more. I sincerely hope with the way this was left that there will be more books to come. The author and narrator are a perfect combination, drawing you in and holding you with a story and characters you can't help but love. I don't think I've been this vested in characters since the Harry Potter series. Simply wonderful.

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Eric
  • 2017-07-29

Takes its time but great story

This story trusts itself, it takes the listener on journey step by step and it also shows how religion can be used to justified anything. So, if you willing be patient with this book you won’t be disappointed, because this is a really great read.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Lanie
  • 2017-07-17

Great Story Illustrating the Stupidity of Bigotry

What made the experience of listening to The Black Witch the most enjoyable?

Julia Whelan. She was 50% of the reason I chose to buy this book. Every one of her narrations are fantastic

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Black Witch?

Elloren's awakening. Finding out that your people aren't the great saviors of the world and that everyone in the world doesn't want to be like you. In fact, your people have been murderous monsters and most of the world loathes you.

Which character – as performed by Julia Whelan – was your favorite?

Aerial. She got the crazy down perfectly.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was holding my breath a few times, scared for them and cheering for them at the same time.

Any additional comments?

People that are freaking out about racism, homophobia and misogyny in this book are totally missing the point.
How could you show the redemption of these characters without first showing the way they were raised and the prejudices they were steeped in. Are bigotry, racism, homophobia and misogyny disgusting? Yes, of course they are, and they were entirely necessary for the story to work.

20 of 24 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ann
  • 2017-07-11

Delicious ... then disappointing.

My first impressions of this story were 'a magnificently deep and richly crafted story with deliciously detailed universe development and a heroine I could get behind ....

But I'm still waiting. The universe was as I suspected indeed detailed and imaginative and blew me away. I also appreciated the deeper themes and motifs. But all along I'm waiting for the main character to blow me away ... while she does develop and change ... it kind of feels like the whole time 'winter is coming , winter is coming' and then it never does. I'm hopeful for the next book ... please tell me there is a next book so my questions can be answered ???

NARRATOR WAS INCREDIBLE!!! The story telling was perfection. Well done. Five stars. Standing ovation. So many different characters speaking and I know exactly which one is at any given time. She did a fantastic job.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Common-Sense-Is-Key
  • 2018-11-08

Really Good! Only wish that......

.......the main female heroine didn't behave so simple-minded. I fully understand the author's want to make her appear sheltered; but the level of naivety shouldn't equate to a lack of common sense. Many series have turned me from reading them because of the same equation of: sheltered past equals no common sense.
*** Spoilers ***
For instance:
(1) Elloren states many times that Fallon scares her, yet she continuously goes after her, all the while knowing her own power isn't fully manifesting.
(2) Elloren cannot fathom why all the other Supernatural races despise her even after realizing her own direct likeness of her grandmother once she's been informed of her grandmother's cruelty.
(3) She ignorantly believes that her aunt will somehow move her to a new room even though she again states she's not wand fasting yet.
Lastly, my most frustrating example.......
(4) Elloren admits, during/after her legit wand testing, that remnants of her grandma's Black Witch power flows through her, deep inside; but she never even questions that she may in fact be the new Black Witch (& her fae side may be blocking it? Or a form of fae shielding was done to hide her power?). There's absolutely no speculation from her! Characters don't have to be written as dimwitted to come across as being sheltered.

Alas, I am currently downloading the 2nd book to this series! I'm hoping for Elloren to grow intellectually; however, if it doesn't happen, she's definitely not the worst character I've ever read about in a series. So there's that lol.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rachael Anders
  • 2018-09-14

Fun Story but Pacing Needs Improvement

The story was fun, light reading, while still providing a realistic insight into someone learning to move past prejudice. Still, the pacing was frustratingly slow at times, and the writing could have used more varied diction. Sometimes I found myself really getting stuck on the author using the same phrases to describe how characters felt, or how a scene looked.
The characterization of the side characters was probably what kept me most engaged. The tried-and-true gang of misfits trope works well here.
Overall, this book is not some great fantasy novel that will knock your socks off, but it can be nice listen to, depending on your patience.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Julie
  • 2018-04-13

A fanciful, yet uneasy, familiarity

Great narration!

IMO, it's fantasy meets reality. Other worldly creatures face racism, bigotry, misogyny etc. The characters feel real (flawed) but with convincing personal evolution.
It IS somewhat predictable, the way life and history are.
It's not ground breaking and doesn't have to be. It's still a fun listen, and it's fiction so enjoy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dana
  • 2018-03-12

Disappointed

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The protagonist!

What could Laurie Forest have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

She should have given the protagonist SOME backbone. I am not saying she needed to be completely fearless, but good lord she just whimpers and hides behind others to fight her fights for her. Now, I am not even half way through so maybe she gets stronger, but I can't even continue at this point. I need a character I can stand behind and root for, and I just can't with her.

Any additional comments?

Only thing enjoyable about this book was the narrator, she did a great job.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful