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The Black Witch by Laurie Forest

A friend of mine recently asked me to read The Black Witch by Laurie Forest. I tend to have different opinions than others and she was curious what I would think with all the drama that is going on. Before you continue to read, please know that this review is my opinion and my thoughts. If you don’t like it, then you are welcome to stop reading. I think each person can have their own opinions and thoughts and shouldn’t have to be afraid of everyone else.

I think The Black Witch is a very thought out story about the prejudices that others have. Yes, this includes racism. This story shows how your upbringing and what you hear can shape your outlook on the world. I also think this story shows how you can become your own person and make your own thoughts, views, and opinions on the world.

Elloren, our main character, is a Gardnerian. She was raised not to trust any other species or creature than her own. These creatures and species include, Fae, Lupines, Urisks, Icarals, Elves, and more. Elloren was raised in a specific way that all of these creatures are bad, lower class, and to be feared. Elloren is not read to be wandfasted so she ends up going to college with her brothers. Since her Aunt is unwilling to pay for her schooling unless Elloren becomes wandfasted, Elloren has to pay for school a different way. She ends up working in the kitchens with some Urisks. Urisks have their own prejudices too agains the Gardnerians. They make Elloren’s first night of work a living hell. Of course makes Elloren think that the way she was raised is correct and these are horrible and dangerous creatures. On top of Elloren’s less than ideal work situation she ends up living with too Icarals. Elloren is terrified to death with her first encounter with her new roommates. Really, this is only the beginning of the story.

This college that Elloren is attending is a magical college. It is to help those that have magic grow stronger and for without magic to learn useful skills. The college promotes equality and teamwork even though the population of the school does not. The Lupines think they are better than everyone else. The Gardnerians think they are superior. The Elves look at life as they are the royals. So on and so forth. There is a lot of prejudice between everyone in this book. This school brings all these different creatures together to learn and get together. Each creature needs to expand their mind and their way of thinking in order to accomplish the goals they have at school. You need to rely on your classmates.

I understand if you don’t want to read about racism but this is something that exists and this author has brought the subject to the light more than anything else. The points that are brought up in this book are meant to be challenged and for people to think about it. The thoughts this main character have gets questioned at every point in the book until she really starts to open her eyes and see the world. The world isn’t all perfect but it is messy. I don’t think we should be looking for books that are perfect. Books are written by humans and well humans make mistakes and have opinions and make assumptions. The characters don’t screen at each other calling them racists but they do have reactions to each other and make comments. This is not a book promoting racism but more of a book bringing the problems of society to the light.

Forest brings the young adult community a book that shows how prejudices are completely complex. Really when you look at the bigger picture it is not just prejudices but privilege, status, and jealously that are problems too. All of these create a tangle of webs that make up racism. Forest shows that being racist is something you learn over something you are born with. One is not born hating other people but one develops this hate by what they are taught and by what they witness from others. I know racism (whether it is age, gender, religion, politics, sexuality, or whatever you want to place here) is a sensitive subject and Forest definitely sheds the biggest light I have ever seen in YA on this subject but what she also shows is that people can change and overcome these issues. I think that is the point that people have been missing.

You can spread as much hate as you want. You spreading hate. Threatening people. Threatening the author. Arguing and creating drama is not okay. If you don’t want to read this book that is totally fine. You don’t have too! This is a free world. You aren’t being forced. Don’t judge something you haven’t read because of someone else’s opinion.  This is a really good book if you just give it a chance and see the bigger picture rather than the narrow minded view that people are looking at this book with. I think Forest did a great job with this book. I am really glad that I took the time to read it and form my own opinion.

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