Author: Lena Coakley (site)
Published: August 30th, 2011 by Atheneum
Buy: Amazon/ Book Depo/ Powell's
Series: Witchlanders #1
Synopsis: High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.
It’s all a fake.
At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?
But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—Are about him.(Goodreads)
Review: I was pleasantly surprised to start this book and realize that the main characters are guys. I love good books with male leads, you just don't see that many of them in YA these days. These guys aren't the overdone, romantically brooding or sensitive type of guy that you see a lot in books aimed at teen girls. They felt like real guys: stubborn, intolerant of drama, and a bit slow to catch on to the machinations of the fairer sex. (At least, that's the way my three brothers have always been.) There isn't any romance in this one, either- and I'm not pointing out a flaw. This book is perfectly whole without any romance. In fact, it didn't even occur to me until I'd finished it that there was a lack of love interests for the boys. I feel like a lot of the YA books I've read lately are all about the romance. If you take out the romance, you don't have a lot left. I'm not complaining, I love a good romance, but sometimes I feel like there needs to be a bit more to the story. I want the romance to be more of a side plot, no the thing that the whole book revolves around. A girl can get along just fine without a guy in here life and I'm starting to feel like that message needs to be reinforced a bit in YA literature today. Then again, I keep devouring those sappy love stories so I guess I'll get off my soapbox. Witchlanders was a fantastic read....literally. It feels more like the older fantasy authors that I used to love, which is funny because her list of influences (on her website) is almost an exact copy of my reading list in the 90s. The world is richly imagined, there is much more going on outside of the main character's corner of it. They may play a big part in the story, but overall they're just pawns. The Witchlanders and the Baen went to war and their countries ended up severing all ties. Anyone with Baen blood was ejected by the Witchlanders, leaving both sides bitter and angry. Falpian is sent by his father to the border between the two lands for a reason he's not privy to and Ryder, on the other side of the border, is beginning to discover that The Covens who rule the land are not what they seem. I loved the way the two main characters interacted. There was bickering, mistrust, and plenty of standoffishness, but they came through for each other when things got tough. All in all, a very good book and an author I'll be keeping an eye on. I would definitely recommend this to fans of fantasy, especially guys. I'll be adding it to the pile of books I've been sending my brother's way.