Goodreads Summary: A new Black Witch will rise…her powers vast beyond imagining.
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 misfits…if only she can find the courage to trust those she’s been taught to hate and fear.
My Thoughts: I found this book when I went to Barnes and Noble for the release of another book, and since I am obsessed with witches, the title and cover caught my eye right away. I looked it up on Goodreads, as you do, and saw that it had a TON of controversy, so of course I had to get it and see what all the fuss was about. The minute I started it I was HOOKED. I was immediately drawn into this fantasy world, and loved learning about all of the different races and cultures. Each one has its own complete history and societal rules, and I wanted to learn more about all of them. The world as a whole is very segregated and racist, with The University being a melting pot of all cultures. While I can understand how someone might have an issue with the idea of such a racist society, it made sense in this case. The whole point of the novel is our protagonist, Elloren, and her friends discovering that what they were raised to believe about people isn’t necessarily the truth. One of my favorite scenes was Elloren and her brother trading rumors with a couple of Lupines about things they had heard about each other’s cultures, and realizing how wrong both sides were. There were a lot of dynamic characters, and I felt that they were all really well developed. Elloren could get a little whiny sometimes, but it made sense with her naiveté and her sheltered upbringing. She had a great arc, and though it takes her a while to move past everything she was indoctrinated to believe, I thought that her arc felt natural and realistic. There was also a ton of good sexual tension with her and her love interests, and who doesn’t love that? I was completely absorbed in the plot, especially towards the end, and while it was slower moving at some points, it was super character driven. I fell in love with these characters and their magical world, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here after that cliff hanger ending.