Review: The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

I read this one a little bit ago and thankfully my reading slump came to end!

The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Published July 2020

Dark Fiction  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon |  Bookshop

Source: Library Borrow 

The Handmaid's Tale for a new generation . . .

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet's word is law, Immanuelle Moore's very existence is blasphemy.

The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement.

But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel - a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by 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 if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her . . . 

My 2 Cents For Free!

I read Year of the Witching for the Ladies of Horror Fiction December Readalong. You can check out what everyone thought and add your thoughts on the discussion thread here: The Year of the Witching Goodreads Discussion

I’ve been having all sorts of trouble with my reading these past few months. My powers of concentration seem to have gone on a permanent vacation and who can blame them? Even picking up a book seems like too much effort depending on the day but I am pretty damn thrilled to say that this book grabbed my attention from the beginning and held it all the way until the very end. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a few uh oh moments of fear and worry here and there about the romantic interest busting in and saving the day but sometimes I worry too much. This book expertly tricks you into thinking it’s going down the same old worn-out roads but then it surprises you in the best of ways. This is a young adult horror novel done just the way I like them and features a strong, intelligent and determined heroine. I don’t think you can go wrong here if you enjoy these things.

Immanuelle is a young woman living in an uptight, rigid, hypocrisy-filled society with rules that benefit those in power. Sound familiar? Ugh! Her world is steeped in ritual and the mistreatment of women who dare to defy the rules. She’s at a disadvantage from birth, having been born a bit of an outcast and “cursed” and with a penchant for wandering into the dark woods after dark and accidentally stirring up trouble. I mean, who wouldn’t want to find a little solitude by running into those woods and away from all of the rules and the terrible townsfolk and dickhead churchy men?! I’m all for it. But her wandering stirs up a bit too much trouble this last time when she’s given a book that once belonged to her deceased mother and an unfortunate chain of events occurs that only she can stop. And she’s determined to stop it ALL ON HER OWN. I love that for her.

Trickery, witchery, and deceit abound! Who is friend, who is foe?! This book is filled with intrigue and adventure and it gets tense and worrisome and grounding it all is the excellent writing and the care the author takes with her main characters. As I mentioned, there’s a little love interest but he’s caring, thoughtful and his relationship with Imnanuelle adds to the story instead of taking over the story. That’s the huge difference here and one that I greatly appreciated. The atmosphere is simply perfection. When Immanuelle is deep in those woods you can almost smell the decaying leaves and feel the crunch of fallen branches under your feet and you might never want to leave because it is scary, yes, but also completely intoxicating. My only niggle is that the witches were made out to be such thoroughly evil creatures, I suppose after what was done to them it makes sense but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to know them just a little bit better.

I recommend this book with my whole heart and all the words that will not come to me today. It’s beautifully written and worthy of 4 ½ stars. 

Content Warning (read what follows at your own peril): There are some terrible things that happen here. There’s mention of underage sex with very dubious and non-consent. It’s not graphic but it’s ick. This man in charge is a POS. There is also animal sacrifice.

“Good people don’t bow their heads and bite their tongues while other good people suffer. Good people are not complicit.”



  1. I absolutely love this cover. Not much of a witchy reader, though. Boo.

    1. We love what we love! It really does have an exceptionally beautiful cover.

  2. Oh sounds so good but I’m put off by animal sacrifice :( pity. Great review! (Lisa-OwlBeSatReading)

    1. It's not a huge part of the plot but it's there :(

  3. Glad this one's so good...and that it got you out of your reading slump! That's awesome.

  4. Nice that this one has some surprises. And I want to know more about this woods!

  5. It sounds emotional and tense and scary and wonderful! Great review!

  6. Phew!! I need to snag this one. Thanks for the heads up about the content warnings!


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