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Book Review: Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

Not only am I reviewing Witchlanders, I’m also a part of the Kismet Blog Tour for the book! Visit RBR tomorrow (Friday) to get the chance to win a copy of Witchlanders AND a Kindle 3!

Pretty sweet, right?! Too bad I can’t enter the contest myself. 😉

Title & Author: Witchlandersby Lena Coakley

Genre: YA- Fantasy

Release Date: August 30, 2011

Series: First in a planned series (I think)

Publisher: Atheneum

How I Got the Book: e-ARC

Description: “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.”

New Magic + World

After experiencing a bit of a reading slump, Witchlanders served to revive and refresh me. One of the things I loved most about this book was the magic. This book was definitely not “fantasy-lite.” I loved the fantasy elements incorporated into the book, which are known as”boneshaking” and…singing!

Boneshaking is what it sounds like- bones (usually human bones) are tossed on the ground to divine the future. The singing part is way more complicated and usually requires training and natural talent, which may take years to manifest. No matter how great they are, Ryder doesn’t believe in any of it (ironically because his mother IS a boneshaker but taught him that boneshaking is just a parlor trick).

Another element woven into the practice of boneshaking and the belief in the Goddess is the idea that Ryder (and others) can’t see past their perceptions of boneshaking, foretelling the future and even other people to see the truth hidden here. Witchlanders has a great way of surprising the characters and the readers with secrets and buried knowledge.

Fantastic Storytelling

One of the great things about this book is that it’s not strictly a YA novel. It incorporates teenaged characters who are strong decision-makers and who act much older than they are. Unlike novels set in high schools or other age-specific times or locations, Witchlanders can appeal to a broader range of readers.

In that sense too, Witchlanders is about more than a series of exhilarating battles and fight scenes (although it certainly has them!). It has a real heart. Ryder struggles to provide for his sisters, stop his mother from overdosing on a deadly and addictive flower and ward against the evil his mother predicted is lurking in the forest.

Deep matters are also dealt with, like disappointing your family, accepting who you are and reversing past prejudices against others. I really love that about this book- on the surface it’s light and entertaining but underneath it’s dark and brooding.

My only real beef with Witchlanders is the premise. Is it just me, or were you lead to believe that something fairly smouldery is going to happen between Ryder and the “beautiful and silent” witch? It’s not that it doesn’t (ish), but that connection is definitely not part of the main story. To even say it’s secondary is a bit of an overstatement.

In the end, though, the lack of heavy romance didn’t faze me- and that’s saying a lot. The novel had enough elements that romance wasn’t necessarily needed. I am excited to see where it goes in the future books, though…


I thoroughly enjoyed Witchlanders! This book has so much to offer readers: heart-pounding suspense, gasp-worthy moments of realization and heart-warming friendship and love (although not as much as the premise would lead you to believe). I hope everyone picks up a copy on it’s August 30th publication date!

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.