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4.5 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is another post-apocalyptic story based around the rearing of sheep!

Once again, as with previous books of this ilk, men are in charge and the woman are subjugated. In fact the woman are treated incredibly badly - almost like sex toys to be used abused and disguarded. They are the chattles of the men who want them, told what to do and when to do it.

There is no strong female who stands up against this treatment, but a litany of subdued females who fall into line with everything that they are told to do. In fact "Kita" is a really big disappointment as a female character - her attempts at assertiveness are all based on the ownership by her man and so fail to demonstrate any strength at all.

I found this story of dystopia to be overtly depressing - even at the end there is little to lift the dark veil and show that there was some light, some hope to aim for.

I won't be looking for the next book in this series.
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on 11 November 2012
For some reason I was expecting this to be really scary, but it wasn't at all. This was my first Kate Cann novel and I had been led to believe that she wrote frightening books yet this wasn't like that at all. This book was a beautifully written dystopian/fantasy which was reminiscent of the Mad Max films. The world building was fantastic and I found it very easy to immerse myself in the segregated world the author had created. The book follows the journey of Kita, who knows in her heart that there is more to life outside of the gates. Just as should be, she values her life and her own importance and can see the potential of her future, should she escape. At first she is disgusted by Arc, the cocky and arrogant foot soldier, destined to one day lead the sheep people. He treats her like a sexual prize to be had and fears his insistence to mate. When it looks as though she will lose her friend, Quainty, who is to be married off to the horseman, she is quick to put their escape into action.
Now you're probably thinking that Arc must be a real jerk, and for the first half of the book, I would totally agree with you, but as situations develop and events unfold, Arc changes dramatically. He grows up very quickly, realising that the old ways of life are becoming archaic and dramatic change is needed for their village to survive. I went from hating him to loving him by the end of the book and from what I can gather that was the author's intention. Kita grows dramatically in this book too; in the early chapters she appears quite innocent and timid, but as her powers grow she becomes a force to be reckoned with and is soon valued highly by her peers.
The women were treated really badly in this book. They were seen as being lower than even the sheep they cared for and at times I found myself frustrated by this. Women were treated like cattle, used for mating and slave labour. Children were born out of necessity and existed without ever knowing of the existence of love. The witches were feared by the other villagers mainly because of lack of knowledge on their behalf. It took time for everyone to learn the truth about Witch Crag.
The segregated villages were stifling to read about. Each male dominated village seemed to run under a dictatorship and the only one worth living in was the one they feared most of all.
This book was a really interesting read and one that flowed with ease; I found it extremely easy to read and I was soon lost in the story. I loved learning more about the ways of the witch, a subject that always attracts my interest.
My only niggle with the book was the ending which I felt told us what would happen rather than actually showing us. It all felt a little rushed and personally I would have liked to have seen an epilogue set in the near future, showing how life had changed and how each society had embraced the new regime.
Apart from that I loved it and I look forward to reading all the republished books by this author.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Kita was born to the tribe of the sheepmen who, as you can probably guess from their name, raise sheep to survive! In a futuristic dystopian setting the world is very different to how we see it now, we don't know why the cities were destroyed but we do see that people live in a much more simplistic way. In fact in some ways it is like the tribes have gone backwards in time and reverted to previous ways of living.

There are several different tribes and they each have their own rules and ways of behaving, what quickly becomes clear is that women have a very low value in this new society - if they are beautiful then they are used as something valuable to trade with other tribes, if not then their life will be spent carrying out menial tasks and producing children. The sheepmen may have found a balance that allows their tribe to survive but their way of life doesn't allow time for fun or any enjoyment, even of the most simple things. Reading about the drudgery of their lives really makes you appreciate the things you have! The only thing that all of the tribes have in common is their fear of the witches who live on Witch Crag. Frightening rumours have been spread about the witches for years and the others are all terrified of their mystical powers and do whatever it takes to avoid them.

Kita isn't happy living with the sheepmen, she wants more from her life and hopes that she might find a better way of living on Witch Crag. Along with her friends Quainy and Raff she bravely sets out on a terrifying journey with no idea what really awaits for them at the end. What she finds will challenge all of her beliefs and lead to a revolution that effects not just Kita but also everyone she knows. Kita and her friends find themselves with an enemy that is almost unbeatable - unless they can convince all of the tribes to work together against them.

I found myself really sucked into Kita's world from the moment I picked up Witch Crag. We are introduced to a great selection of characters and I loved the complex relationships between them, even Kita's jealousy was endearing and understandable and I really enjoyed getting to know her. I loved getting to see how each of the different tribes lived, in some ways it felt like reading a historical story but it was easy to see how society could revert to old patterns if the world as we know it fell apart. It was also good to see the way people were forced to look at their choices and consider how things could be improved in the future, some of the characters will really surprise you with the actions they take.

This is the first story I've read by Kate Cann but it is one I'll definitely be recommending and I'm looking forward to reading more of her books in the future. The ending did feel a little rushed but I loved the fact that Witch Crag works as a standalone novel. As much as I would be happy to revisit the world and the characters it was nice to read a book that doesn't end on a massive cliffhanger leaving you waiting a whole year to find out how things end. There are some issues that haven't been resolved but they have been left open in a way that allows the reader to imagine their own conclusion or that the author could potentially revisit the characters again in the future. I'm sure that anyone who enjoys dystopian or post-apocalyptic will like Witch Crag and I look forward to reading more by Kate Cann in the future.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have read quite a few dystopian genre book recently and I have to say that this is one of the best.
In a world no longer with technology etc (the book doesn't really advise what exactly happened just refers to 'The Great Havoc', a time of earthquakes, flood and wars) the humans of the world have backtracked to the old ways i.e living off the land in tribes. There are five main groups that the book is centered around; The Sheepmen, The Horsemen, The Farmers and the cannibalistic city dwellers and the terrifying Witches of Witch Crag. The book's main character is Kita who lives with the Sheepmen where their motto is survive, survive, survive and unless it is something to do with yes you guessed it surviving then the Sheepmen don't do it so no fun, relaxation, love etc and women are treated as second grade citizens. Kita feels that there must be more to life then the Sheepmen's boring monotonous ways where they work all day and all night if needed i.e. if the rain starts to fall of a night they are all woken up and must fall into their regimented lines to collect the rain water that falls and if morning is close when they have finished well tough luck, no more sleep, just get on with the day as normal! My heart broke for the babies/toddlers in the book who are held in pens to stop the huge post-apocalyptic crows carrying them away and do not have their mothers to love and hold them as this is seen as unnecessary in the grand scheme of survive, survive, survive! The last straw for Kita is that her best friend Quainy is to be traded to the Horsemen as Quainy is beautiful and would therefore make a good wife for one of the old Horsemen leaders. Kita decides to plot their escape and together with Quainy and their best friend Raff (a skinny picked on boy) they decide to escape and take their chances and head to Witch Crag. Here follows where all the adventure kicks in as the three try to escape and find their way to the Witches on Witch Crag, all the time hoping that the Witches won't just kill them on sight or that on their way past the old city the city dwellers won't capture them and eat them!

There are a few more main characters in the book such as Arc a Sheepman who I absolutely despised at the start of the book but who really grew on my towards the end. Also main characters develop from the other tribes such as Vild, Lilly, Flay and Pitch and the book takes a dramatic turn when the city dwellers declare war on the other tribes. The book kept me gripped until the end and I really enjoyed it and so would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes books of this genre.
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VINE VOICEon 26 November 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very well written and engaging novel suitable for anyone from around age 12 upwards. It depicts a distopian future world in which the survivors of the unknown holocaust have divided into very different societies; the sheepmen, the horsemen, the city dwellers, the farmers and the witches. There are also lawless wild-men, dangerous packs of dogs and giant crows, big enough to carry off a baby. Kita lives with the sheep people on a defensible hill top which is also their prison. The small children and babies are kept in a large cage to defend them from the crows and so that their mothers can get on with the back-breaking work of keeping a pre-industrial tribe going. The sheep people (not surprisingly!) rear sheep which they keep for food and clothing, while their young men defend their hill fort. Women and weak men are scorned and quite badly treated. However the tribe does have some partial allies in the horsemen (who are rather like I imagine the Vikings to have been when they were at home in Scandinavia) and the farmers and there is trade and inter-marriage to prevent in-breeding. All the other societies fear the witches up on Witch Crag and the witches make sure their reputation for bloodthirstiness is maintained to prevent the male dominated tribes from attacking them. At the start of the story, Kita (the main character) has to come up with a plan to save her friend Quainty from being married off to one of the senior (and much older) horsemen and also to save her friend Raff who is bullied and repressed in a society that doesn't value anyone who can't do physically hard work. Her solution is to run away with them to Witch Crag, where she is certain her tribe won't attempt to get them back from. What no-one knows is that all the tribes are under a terrible threat and that their only hope of survival is to band together, to somehow overcome the suspicion and pride that keeps them at logger-heads and defeat an enemy that will subsume them all, given half a chance.
The distopian world is very well realised and the author manages to give enough information about each of the different tribes without going into lengthy descriptions - it all happens quite naturally and I found myself believing that society could well splinter like this following a cataclysm that wiped most people out.
I was rooting for the main characters throughout and found the ending thoroughly satisfactory, which doesn't often happen in novels written in this uncertain century.
I highly recommend this as a very good read.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A novel of dystopian fiction for young adult readers.

It runs for three hundred and seventy six pages. And is divided into forty eight chapters.

Ideal reading age would be thirteen and up, thanks to some mild adult themes and some violence.

It's main character is a girl called Kita. Who lives in a hill fort along with the rest of her tribe. Who raise sheep. In a tribe where the strong males become soldiers women don't have much value other than for menial tasks, childbearing, or arranged marriages with men from other tribes. Such as a tribe of horsemen, who live nearby.

But all the men fear the nearby place known as Witch Crag. Where they say the witches live.

Kita and her friend Quainy, plus a boy called Raff, who is subjected to merciless bullying by tougher boys, plot to escape and see what lies at Witch Crag. What they find when they get away from the fort, though, is nothing like they expected. Because great danger is coming to the area. And their lives, plus those of all around them, will never be the same again. Can people rise to that challenge?.....

Whether this is post apocalyptic in setting or fantasy or even historical would be telling, because nothing is that apparent at the start. And the gradual reveal of details is quite appealing.

Another thing that this has to make it stand out in an increasingly crowded field is that it's not a trilogy. Although there would be room for further adventures for the characters come the end, it does bring the story to a close and it does appear to be complete in one volume.

It's very readable and the three main characters are very engaging. One nice touch is how certain things in the outside world are completely beyond their frame of reference, and it remembers this when describing them.

The plot does constantly develop over the course of the book, and keep bringing in fresh challenges and siuations. And it's all about change. How you can adjust to finding new things and situations and rise to that and grow as a person as a result, and what might result if you don't.

Added to which any elements of romance that there are do not play out at all as you might expect. And are very nicely handled.

All in all it's a decent read and well worth a look if you like this kind of thing.
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on 4 December 2012
I bought it without any kind of high expectation. I feared it would be another YA novel without an end that would force me to buy 3 or 4 books in the future to know what happens... but no, this is a real novel: it has a beginning and an end.
Could there be a second book? Yes, if the author feels like it, I mean, I wouldn't mind to read more but this particular story has a decent ending.

The main character, Kita, is amazing, she is a complex character, with lights and shadows, not just the too-perfect-to-be-true girl, she has a power inside of her that she fears and needs, but she is so much more than that. She is a girl, that fears her own desires, that wants a better life and is ready to fight for it but gets scared like anyone else would.

She has two best friends, Quainy and Raff, and they are all part of the sheepmen tribe in a post-havoc world where tribes struggle to survive and nobody is safe. The Horsemen are brutal, the farmers have slaves and the city dwellers are scary as hell.

Most of the characters are not boring stereotypes. Arc evolves, as Kita does and most of the action is well-written and the sense of danger is very real while you are reading.

I have enjoyed it and I do recommend it.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The main protagonist is a strong willed young woman who wants to break away from her restricted tribal lifestyle. In doing so she discovers powers in herself she didn't know she had - but is she a witch? `Witch Crag' is swashbuckling fiction, yet author Kate Cann skilfully allows only a finely balanced component of fantasy, and witches are perhaps not what may be imagined. Characterisation of all individuals and groups is superbly crafted and the witch elements are innocuously woven into a thrilling plot involving frustration, fear, sadness, courage, aggression and brutality in addition to love. Unlike many dystopian novels the background of `Witch Crag' is made conceivable following some `Great Havoc' destroying society and the subsequent division into tribes separately seeking to survive. With use of language employing modern colloquialisms, and strengthened by narrative flowing logically Kate Cann's characters are made credible, yet she leaves readers to determine between friend and foe. There is subtle guidance on the values of society embracing the role of women, use of power, cooperation within groups etc. and the sub-title revealingly poses the question: What if your enemy became the one worth saving?
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I got into this story straight away as the beginning is unique and interesting. Of course it could have been a lot harder to get the interest going given the initial setting so all credit to the author. The novel starts in the hill fort of the sheep men and their life is a grim one of enforced monotonous work with no room for any fun. Their function is to survive. As it says in the novel "Do the work, grinding work. Keep the sheep safe. Collect water. Guards the barricades. Survive."

Meanwhile there are other tribes around like the horsemen, the farmers, the city dwellers and the witches from Witch Crag, but the witches are avoided because everyone is scared of them.

Kita, a teenage girl from the sheep men, has visions and knows she needs to escape from her life with the sheep men. She is drawn to Witch Crag. So she sets about doing this convincing two of her friends to escape with her. Along the way they stumble across the city which is a place in ruins with metallic vehicles left from before the Great Havoc, vehicles called cars. There they are captured before they escape to finally make it to Witch Crag where the witches are not as scary as they had been made out to be. Having done so matters turn to war, with the city dwellers breaking out from their ruins to try and invade all the other tribes. Only an alliance between the farmers, horsemen, sheep men and witches can have any chance to stop them, but who will befriend the big bad witches?

A gripping story about escape, then battle, and maybe coming of age along the way for the young lead characters, that is suitable for teens up.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Kita has never fit in with the sheepmen. She wants more from life than blind obedience, constant work and a joyless existence. It's not that she minds working hard, but surely there's more to life - like colour and laughter.

But she has nowhere else to go. Outside the sheepmen's fort is a dangerous place, with wild dogs, giant crows and vicious marauders just a few of the known threats. There are also witches. Everyone knows they steal girls away, never to be seen again.

But when her best friend is chosen as a trade to the strong horsemen, and her other friend Raff is almost crushed by constant bullying, Kita knows she has to act. Surely anywhere would be better than the fort. Even the sinister Witch Crag.

Filled with post-apocalyptic fears of nature and city alike, this is a good tale with a great setting. The sheepmen are so terribly dreary that no one could blame Kita for leaving. The horsemen are brutal and arrogant, the city rotten and terrifying, and the witches... well, they're unlike anyone else.

Kita's a strong character, clever and resourceful, yet full of faults too. She's stubborn, headstrong and not always in control - especially of her anger. She has a lot of growing up to do, fast, and she faces more tough choices than anyone else.

Woven amongst Kita's tale is a deeper one of self-protection, superstition, acceptance and the power of an open mind. It's a clever, thought-provoking tale with just enough magic to make it otherworldly. A powerfully good read.
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