Source: S&S Galley Grab
I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK. It is probably the first real fantasy novel that I've read that I've truly enjoyed and I'm still trying to figure out why that is. I've tried other fantasy books before and I've found the worlds cumbersome and difficult to immerse myself in. This was not at all the case with Witchlanders. Lena Coakley's descriptions of the world, including its people and its history, flowed from the pages and completely drew me in. The beginning was a bit of a slow burn and I admit that I almost gave up. Thankfully, I gave the book at least 100 pages to draw me in. Once it did, I never looked back--I can't believe I almost gave up on reading this book!
Now, first off, don't let the pretty girl on the cover fool you. This story is fabulous and one of the elements that drew me to this book in the first place was the presence of not one, but two, male POVs. The YA novels that I read tend to be inundated with female MCs, many of whom tend to suffer from the swoon-prone klutzy girl syndrome (although I'll concede that I have read a lot of kick-butt girls lately). It was a fabulous change of pace to read from male POVs and I must say that Coakley pulled it off well. I always wonder how easy it can be to get into the head of a character of the opposite sex. Obviously, for Lena Coakley, not problem whatsoever as she has done a brilliant job.
Both of the MCs drew me in with their stories. Each must deal with the loss of a loved one, whether well in the past or more recently, and each seems to be a on significant journey of self-discovery. Coakley uses brilliant foreshadowing to hint at the boys' connection but watching them discover it for themselves is quite an experience. Their views of each other and the pre-conceptions that they must overcome throughout their journey seem like a constant uphill battle with no end in sight. Each must make decisions that will sacrifice the other and the reader is in constant conflict as to which side is right and which will prevail in the end. The characters also quickly become people that you can relate to. Their heartache is intense and each clearly has strong loyalties to family.
The ending leaves a lot for the reader to ponder and I know that I was particularly mystified. I honestly kept trying to turn the page on my Nook only to look up and discover that I had come to the end! I need to know if there will be more Witchlanders because I'm ready to read more!