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A PATH BEGINS by J.A. White Kirkus Star


From the Thickety series, volume 1

by J.A. White ; illustrated by Andrea Offermann

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: April 29th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-06-225724-6
Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Nail-biting suspense is the hallmark of this long fantasy novel, from the terrifying prologue to the shocking epilogue.

This pleasantly accomplished debut presents readers with a dystopian, theocratic society that fears and executes witches and magic users. The community lives on the island of De’Noran, where the habitable land is being devoured by strange forest called the Thickety. In the prologue, readers meet little Kara Westall, who is roused from her bed and dragged to watch her mother’s execution as a witch. Years later, Kara, now 12, is responsible for herself, her younger brother, Taff, and their father, crippled by depression. When Kara finds her mother’s grimoire in the Thickety and uses it, the already suspenseful narrative becomes nerve-wracking. The author’s storytelling chops show in how he ratchets up suspense, delivers believable characters (both good and evil), and reveals information slowly and only when absolutely necessary. There is a stunning climax and a seemingly perfect resolution. Readers will know, however, that nothing is perfect, and the epilogue confirms this fact while providing hope for a sequel.

The spellbinding story, lashings of suspense and stalwart heroine will draw in fantasy fans and keep them reading until the bitter ending. (Fantasy. 11-14)