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Heart of the Witch Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
Zerrick Dhur is trapped between two drives: as the son of the pastor, he is expected to be an example of proper behaviour; as a curious teenager, he wants to learn all the magic his mentor can teach him. But, studying magic is not just inappropriate it is sinful, forcing him to learn in secret. When his mentor is arrested for witchcraft, Zerrick is forced to exchange his comfortable life for one of running from both the righteous and the criminals who lurk in the jungle.
Goodwin’s world-building is solid. Both the colonials and the natives have a distinct society but are composed of disparate groups, creating an immediate feeling of realism.
The revelation of both magic and the more unusual flora and fauna is well-paced, allowing the reader to share Zerrick’s learning experience without having to experience long periods where little develops. Both the risks of magic and its source are plausible, creating a balance between solving problems and causing them.
The religions are similarly skilfully crafted, offering both benefits and disadvantages to followers. And – unlike some fantasy novels – there is no hierarchy of worth; no one religion overcomes the others, or is ethically superior.
The dénouement, when it arrives, is both satisfying and consistent with the rest of the book.
Goodwin’s characterisation is as sound as her world-building. Zerrick’s combination of self-doubt and arrogance is a very realistic response to the stresses he faces.Read more ›
Zerrick is a well-developed character and following him through his coming of age story was a treat. The elements of fantasy that can be hard to create, such as the rules of magic, were done nicely and were easy to follow. The world created for the story was well though out and interesting.
Overall, this is a great story that will hold your attention
Zerrick, hearing differing histories and views from both his father and his mentor, is conflicted from the start. On the one hand, he is taught that magic is evil and dangerous, a gateway to the domain of Angist. His father also teaches that Ainera, the Goddess of magic, is also evil, a trickster to fool people into using and abusing their magic. On the other hand, Zerrick is taught that Ainera and the magic are not inherently evil and that the magic is natural and beneficial. Only men with evil hearts who listen to the lies of Angist use it for evil. This contradiction forces Zerrick to consider each side for himself. But the conflict doesn't remain an internal one for long, because the benevolent Ainera and the evil Angist eventually take note of him.
Overall, the plot, characters, mythology, and cultures within the story are both well-developed and believable. I enjoyed the parallels drawn with Christianity and with colonial pilgrims (including their fear of witchcraft). Although this is a work of fiction, it's obvious the author draws from extensive knowledge of these subjects to weave such a vibrant world.
I love this book and would recommend it to anyone who loves thought-provoking fantasy that doesn't strictly adhere to the cliched norms of the fantasy genre.
I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest, non-reciprocal review.
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