• The Black Witch

  • The Black Witch Chronicles, Book 1
  • By: Laurie Forest
  • Narrated by: Julia Whelan
  • Length: 18 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (3,367 ratings)

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The Black Witch  By  cover art

The Black Witch

By: Laurie Forest
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
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Publisher's Summary

A Great Winged One will soon arise and cast his fearsome shadow upon the land. And just as Night slays Day, and Day slays Night, so also shall another Black Witch rise to meet him, her powers vast beyond imagining. 

So foretells the greatest prophecy of the Gardnerian mages. Carnissa Gardner, the last prophesied Black Witch, drove back the enemy forces and saved her people during the Realm War. Now a new evil is on the horizon, and her granddaughter, Elloren, is believed to be Carnissa's heir—but while she is the absolute image of her famous grandmother, Elloren is utterly devoid of power in a society that prizes magical ability above nearly all else. 

When she is granted the opportunity to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming an apothecary, Elloren is eager to join her brothers at the prestigious Verpax University and finally 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 an even more treacherous place for the granddaughter of the Black Witch.

©2017 Laurie Forest (P)2017 Harlequin Enterprises, Limited.

Critic Reviews

"This ambitious story is impressively narrated by the talented Julia Whelan, who creatively details its world of intricate magical practices and diverse inhabitants.... Whelan ably creates and sustains a wide cast of characters with intriguing and faithfully distinguished voices. Most importantly, she cultivates listeners' connection with flawed but ultimately good-hearted Elloren, whose first-person story portrays her fumbling attempts at understanding a wider world." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about The Black Witch

Average Customer Ratings
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The controversy should make you want to read this book!

I was intrigued when I first saw the publisher’s synopsis of The Black Witch, but then I read further and discovered all the controversy and negative press surrounding this book. When the public makes premature judgments and starts leaning toward book banning without so much as cracking the binding, I knew I had to find out more and I am so glad I did! The Black Witch is based in a fantasy world, but the protagonist, is dealing with issues of stereotypes, class divisions, racism, misogyny, and still darker real world issues loom. Like each of us, the main character has her flaws. She is often part of her society’s problems, but this story is about the journey of her self-discovery, how her world is not the idyllic place she believed, and how even the vast differences amongst those she comes in contact with cannot hide the beauty of what they have in common and will fight for, together.

163 people found this helpful

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Amazing

I have read a lot of controversy around this book... after reading it I find that it's nothing like the people were ranting about. The main character was a sheltered girl who lives in a world of racism and makes friends and breaks down boundaries slowly. The book itself is fast paced and I highly doubt you will find a slow moment in the book.


Only complaint is that she is sometimes very sheltered.

68 people found this helpful

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Really Good! Only wish that......

.......the main female heroine didn't behave so simple-minded. I fully understand the author's want to make her appear sheltered; but the level of naivety shouldn't equate to a lack of common sense. Many series have turned me from reading them because of the same equation of: sheltered past equals no common sense.
*** Spoilers ***
For instance:
(1) Elloren states many times that Fallon scares her, yet she continuously goes after her, all the while knowing her own power isn't fully manifesting.
(2) Elloren cannot fathom why all the other Supernatural races despise her even after realizing her own direct likeness of her grandmother once she's been informed of her grandmother's cruelty.
(3) She ignorantly believes that her aunt will somehow move her to a new room even though she again states she's not wand fasting yet.
Lastly, my most frustrating example.......
(4) Elloren admits, during/after her legit wand testing, that remnants of her grandma's Black Witch power flows through her, deep inside; but she never even questions that she may in fact be the new Black Witch (& her fae side may be blocking it? Or a form of fae shielding was done to hide her power?). There's absolutely no speculation from her! Characters don't have to be written as dimwitted to come across as being sheltered.

Alas, I am currently downloading the 2nd book to this series! I'm hoping for Elloren to grow intellectually; however, if it doesn't happen, she's definitely not the worst character I've ever read about in a series. So there's that lol.

40 people found this helpful

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Great Story Illustrating the Stupidity of Bigotry

What made the experience of listening to The Black Witch the most enjoyable?

Julia Whelan. She was 50% of the reason I chose to buy this book. Every one of her narrations are fantastic

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Black Witch?

Elloren's awakening. Finding out that your people aren't the great saviors of the world and that everyone in the world doesn't want to be like you. In fact, your people have been murderous monsters and most of the world loathes you.

Which character – as performed by Julia Whelan – was your favorite?

Aerial. She got the crazy down perfectly.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I was holding my breath a few times, scared for them and cheering for them at the same time.

Any additional comments?

People that are freaking out about racism, homophobia and misogyny in this book are totally missing the point.
How could you show the redemption of these characters without first showing the way they were raised and the prejudices they were steeped in. Are bigotry, racism, homophobia and misogyny disgusting? Yes, of course they are, and they were entirely necessary for the story to work.

34 people found this helpful

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Garbage

I wanted to like this, but the main character is absolutely infuriating. Her immaturity and her contradictory behavior is exhausting. I was constantly rolling my eyes. The plot goes nowhere. No desire to finish this series. Truly bummed. I love the narrator though, she’s amazing.

28 people found this helpful

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Amazing but...

If you are staunch in your religion, political views or sexual orientation this book is not for you (though you need to listen to it more than the rest of the populace.) The book touched on each of these subjects directly but not offensively. It has been a while since I've found a book that I simply couldn't stop listening to and I want more. I sincerely hope with the way this was left that there will be more books to come. The author and narrator are a perfect combination, drawing you in and holding you with a story and characters you can't help but love. I don't think I've been this vested in characters since the Harry Potter series. Simply wonderful.

23 people found this helpful

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Delicious ... then disappointing.

My first impressions of this story were 'a magnificently deep and richly crafted story with deliciously detailed universe development and a heroine I could get behind ....

But I'm still waiting. The universe was as I suspected indeed detailed and imaginative and blew me away. I also appreciated the deeper themes and motifs. But all along I'm waiting for the main character to blow me away ... while she does develop and change ... it kind of feels like the whole time 'winter is coming , winter is coming' and then it never does. I'm hopeful for the next book ... please tell me there is a next book so my questions can be answered ???

NARRATOR WAS INCREDIBLE!!! The story telling was perfection. Well done. Five stars. Standing ovation. So many different characters speaking and I know exactly which one is at any given time. She did a fantastic job.

21 people found this helpful

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Takes its time but great story

This story trusts itself, it takes the listener on journey step by step and it also shows how religion can be used to justified anything. So, if you willing be patient with this book you won’t be disappointed, because this is a really great read.

15 people found this helpful

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All kinds of worthless

I didn't know that there was any controversy around this title when I got it or started listening to it, but the further in I got, the more troubled I became. First of all the racism, even as redeemed (apparently) later on, is pretty intense, and is exclusively written from a white entitled perspective, as well as a deeply--but narrowly--defined Christianity. I love C.S. Lewis and other Christianity-based allegories, but this is more a ham-fisted 'teaching' about "Earthea" (really?? -- why not "earth" or "our world") and the "Ancient One" (thank you Ctrl-H-- replace "God" with "the Ancient One" and we are good to go)! --and that's the second of three complaints i have--the utterly shopworn inventions of this world, renaming all creatures "Kreachures" as it were... neither necessary nor creative. Thirdly, it's like this poor child is Harriet Potter with all the Malfoy clan, and the Dursleys in every class and they are all taught by Snape! the unrelenting teenage misery is unrelenting in its unrelentingness to the point of being monotonous, overwrought and actually diminishes the sense of empathy with this impossibly put upon girl... Of the many Cinderella-trope YA novels I've read, this is right out there for elaborate misery, but somehow unsympathetically so, compared to something like "Dorothy Must Die" for example... so, all in all, I suggest giving this a miss.

12 people found this helpful

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Story could be better - audio very good

Is there anything you would change about this book?

the story is ok, but could be better. the main character Elloren is a bit gratting as a character so far. More a damsel in distress than a hero. Different from brothers and uncle in viewpoint, almost as from different upbringing than brothers.

Almost all of the other charaters seem to be presented as a completed person by the Author, where Elloren still seem the author trying to figure out who she is.

Right now I'm more interested in the other charaters than Elloren,

Would you recommend The Black Witch to your friends? Why or why not?

yes I would, the Authors other series was good but a bit long winded at times. The characters, some very well developed and gripping to read about. the main charater needs a bit of work. but all in all a good read.

What about Julia Whelan’s performance did you like?

the audio presentation was very good.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Melissa Duke
  • 08-15-19

More than your average YA

I'm older than the age demographic this genre is typically aimed at but still got a lot of enjoyment out of this book and The Iron Flower.

The world politics and events are believable and pulled from recent history, main characters are likable and well rounded and for once there's a love triangle that isn't superficial (revealed more in TIF). There's a bit of that "will they won't they" tension and the holding back of true feelings but that's to be expected with YA.

I'm picky when it comes to storytelling but so far I haven't had any major complaints with character actions or motivation. The story moves at a nice pace and the plot has a good amount of moving parts to keep things interesting.

Narrator performance was wonderful. Character voices are mostly distinct and consistent. Some of the male voices sound similar but it wasn't an immersion breaker for me.

Overall a great listen and I can't wait for the release of book 3.

5 people found this helpful

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  • phae
  • 05-13-17

Wonderful

I am bereft!! The book is finished... already..... and I have so many questions!
Where is the next one?
More, Ms Forest! MORE!!!

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • R Griffiths
  • 04-08-19

Great audio book

Totally addictive book. Great story, wonderful characters and very well read. I think this is classed as being for young adults. Well I'm over 70 and I loved it and have bought the sequel.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Rebecca
  • 05-01-19

No idea what all the contraversary is about

It's a good story, at times grating and I understand the division can be upsetting but the point of the story is that. Bringing unlikely allies together to fight the injustice of racism and class.
The narration is ok.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Leanne M.
  • 02-24-18

Loved it

I need the 2nd one now can't wait for its release so so good, amazing

2 people found this helpful

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  • leigh h richards
  • 11-06-21

Loved it!

I'm 63 years old and it didn't make me feel my age, it's timeless fantasy! Well written and performed!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chiikita
  • 05-15-21

So long since I heard a good fantasy book

It's well written. It's well narred. The story is interesting, the characters are not too much in this or that. All is well balanced.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lotty
  • 06-29-19

Amazing

Loved listening to this book the narration is captivating and definitely adds a new dimension to this story. The book itself takes the reader on a wonderful journey into a supernatural world. Definitely worth listening to.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jax
  • 11-01-22

Interesting

Loved this 2nd book of the series, no boring unnecessary parts, I was hooked.
this series is on par with The Enchantress series

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  • Deborah Kelleher
  • 10-25-22

enjoyed it

after a run of mediocre books what a delight to happen upon this. ticked all the boxes and I will definitely be getting the next in the series

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  • MissMetalNeen
  • 07-13-17

Good story, not the best narration

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I wouldn't because of the narration.

Would you be willing to try another book from Laurie Forest? Why or why not?

Yes I am looking forward to wandfasted coming out.

How could the performance have been better?

The narrative was not the best. The accents by the narrator was terrible.I really hate it when fantasy novels are read with American style words like (h)ERBs. It sounds stupid. The American accent just made the main character sound very mean girly/whining that at some points I found very hard to listen too.

Could you see The Black Witch being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

If it was it would be better played by English actors.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Rebeca B.
  • 06-15-22

Excellent fantasy story

Took a little to get started in terms of the develop the characters and story. Once you understand the struggle and world of the back witch, you will be surprised and encouraged by its development. Loved it

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  • Emily
  • 08-25-21

Narrator stayed this performance

I truly loved this story, more than I've love a story in a long time, I haven't enjoyed a book this much since I read Cruel Prince.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-29-21

A Fantastic Fast Pasted YA Fantasy!

I loved this book so much more than I thought I would, I loved the Narrator and the story, I was adicted from the start.
already started book 2, cannot wait for where this goes next.

🧙‍♀️❤

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  • Trish
  • 07-30-20

Couldn’t put it down

The story pulled me it and the writing continued to delight. It is a wonderful book to walk in the shoes of inclusion and acceptance.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-11-19

WOW!!

Wow what a great read. once you start you won't be able to stop!! Fantastic story and awesome narration :)