The Black Witch Review – Racism & Answering the Major Questions

The Black Witch Review will cover all the major questions you have about the controversy surrounding The Black Witch and whether you should read it.

The Black Witch Review

Questions:

The Black Witch was a title that caught my eye on OverDrive (Libby) before I’d heard of the book or seen any of the controversy surrounding it so I went in completely unbiased.

  1. Is The Black Witch Racist?
  2. Is Laurie Forest racist?
  3. Is The Black Witch a good book?
  4. Should I read The Black Witch?

I try to be pretty active on Twitter but I somehow missed the tweets about The Black Witch. If I had read the reviews and controversy surrounding the book I wouldn’t have picked it up. And I can’t exactly say I’m glad I did but I’m not terribly un-glad either.

Is The Black Witch Racist?

This was one of those meh books for me. Yes, it’s problematic but what isn’t?

Is The Black Witch racist? I don’t think so, not exactly. But kinda. Is there racism? Absolutely, a LOT. I feel this is what the book is truly about.

The book centres around Elloran, the granddaughter of The Black Witch. She’s completely sheltered and ignorant of the world around her. When she joins the university she starts learning about other cultures, races/beings (dragons, werewolves, elves, etc.). And she’s SUPER racist, ableist, you-name-it.

As she starts learning about different cultures she comes to realise how cruel her own is. Is she still racist? Yep.

But she’s becoming less and less ignorant and with education and knowledge she becomes “less” prejudiced and judgemental. I really hate to use the word “less” here, given any amount of racism is racist but this is the best way to describe it. Simply put, she’s learning the error of her ways.

I can 100% see why this book is considered racist trash. And you’d be forgiven in thinking so if you’d only made it a third of the way through before Elloran’s walls start shattering.

Is Laurie Forest Racist?

I have no idea.

I think this is a good example of when book bloggers can sometimes jump the gun and accuse authors of being prejudiced because their main character is. This is a huge leap. Instead, I see it as a commentary on our own inherently racist world and how ignorance breeds prejudice.

Does this mean the author is racist? No.

Could she have explored this commentary better? Absolutely.

Is The Black Witch a Good Book?

Will I be continuing on with the series? No.

Because it’s racist? No.

Because it’s just not that good a book.

Exploring the racist themes in the book was actually the most interesting part. It was the only character development there really was.

I will always prefer character driven stories over plot driven stories however, while a lot of “stuff” was happening in the book, it was still boring.

Many people have written that not much happens, but that simply isn’t true. A lot does happen but it’s still boring. And that’s the real problem with this book. While there certainly is some character growth, by the end of the book, there’s certainly not enough growth to make Elloran likeable.

It’s difficult to root for a book when you can’t root for it’s characters.

Should I Read The Black Witch?

The Black Witch is not a book you want to pick up if you’re against DNF series. The first book does not give any semblance of an ending, besides a few choice words. So not only do you feel unsatisfied with the ending, if you’re not loving it, you’ll question your decision to stick with it rather than DNFing.

There are people who love this book of course, and you might be one of them. However I think this is a strange book in the sense that it explores such large, important topics, like race, but is written in such a simplistic way you question if it’s not for a younger audience.

The writing style is like a book aimed at 10-14 year olds while the subject matter is aimed at a much older audience.

Who is this book written for?

Perhaps for an audience that will read anything about witches (me) but who will also forgive any problematic subject matter or bad writing style because it’s about witches (not me).

You’ll also need to enjoy very cheesy and cliche romance, soap-opera-style (hey no judgement, I love that stuff).

If you liked The Selection by Kiera Cass and you don’t mind a bit of a problematic story (if you liked The Selection, I assume this is true) but you want a bit more grit then this may be a good choice for you.

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