This review was written by: B
Publication Date of Book: May 2014
-The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White
Kara Westfall lives on a peculiar island, isolated from the World. The strange villagers of this land follow the teachings of Timoth Clen, a man who, years ago, eradicated witches and their disastrous magic. Waiting for Clen's return, they follow very specific rules such as don't wish for anything and, most importantly, never practice magic. While the rest of the World continues on into the indefinite future, they stay put in their own time and only specific people may venture out on ships to get the supplies that are needed from the outside. More importantly, the villagers stay clear of the Thickety, a secluded piece of forest that surrounds part of the island's border. It is here that the demon, Sordyr, is rumored to reside. Fearful of even the mention of magic, trouble quickly ensues when Kara's mother is tested for deceitful witchcraft. At the fragile age of six, Kara sees her mother murdered in front of the whole island. It is at this time, that Kara is also tested for using magic. After great hesitation, she is finally declared innocent.
Years later, Kara is living with her younger brother, Taff, and her broken father, who hasn't been the same since his beloved wife died, simply scribbling in the same book day after day. Confused, Kara is conflicted between feeling love or hatred towards her late mother, a now renowned and infamous witch. The villagers haven't treated her as they once had, with love and compassion, for six years. With her being a spitting image of her mother, with dark hair and not to mention a peculiar gift with animals that isn't a common normalcy, she is shunned, with only one true friend beside her dear brother, Lucas. Kara's been told that her mother murdered two people with her father as a witness. It was an awful endeavor, they said. Her life almost seems not worth living, being poor day to day and looking after Taff who is frequently sick with fever every time you turn around, but now life, while not perfect, will soon take a turn for better or far worse.
Being lead by a mysterious bird, Kara is forced to travel into the mysterious and foreboding Thickety, a woods full of dark shadows, writhing shadows, and strange, unbelievable creatures. Once there, she finds a grimoire, a book full of strong magical powers that might be her mother's very own spell book. This is the story of her journey with magic and the holds it ties to her. Being lured by Sordyr himself, the demon with hands made of branches and a body frighteningly cloaked in orange, her life is quickly hurtling towards darkness and even her own destruction.
J. A. White wrote a simply fabulous first installment that will undoubtedly become part of an amazing series. I have always been looking for a good witchy book to devour but never got to do so until now. This wasn't because I was hesitant, but because they were never at my disposal. This was a great way to start off my adventures with this topic. I like to believe that The Thickety: A Path Begins is one of those books that is fun to read at night, under your covers, with only a flashlight as your friend. Even though so many people call it a middle grade novel, the writing is so diverse that I feel that it can fit into more than one category. It can be read by a middle grader, a young adult, and maybe even some adults. J. A. White has such a voice that makes it blur between the lines so that countless people can enjoy it. It has magic, friendship, trials, and tribulations. At the end of the day, though, it seems that family is also very prominent in the story. I was so warmed by the development of Kara's helpless father into someone she could easily talk to and count on.
As you may have already heard, The Thickety: A Path Begins does have violence and "gore." However, White conveys these happenings in such a fashion in which you know what happened, but it wasn't something that was described in detail, almost "swept under the rug," if you will. For example, one character lost a few fingers at one point, but it was written so that you knew what occurred without going into the bloody details. It was simply a part of the story line. People are killed, bad things happen, and darkness is a part of everything. That's what makes this book so interesting, the darkness fighting the light, the lies pitted against the truth. It captivated me. Kara struggled with the grimoire. It blackened her heart and turned her into someone different. Her character changes were so fascinating and very well portrayed. For a middle grade novel it was amazing! I have never read one like it. I wasn't expecting so many of the twists and turns that the author presented to me. It was a brilliant piece of work! The ending about killed me, I was so not ready for it. But, as Kara said, happy endings could only be earned through some sort of sacrifice.
If you have the opportunity to read this captivating tale, you should definitely do so! If you are worried about whether or not your child should read it, then maybe wait for it. Some nine or ten year olds may enjoy this spooky book while others may be frightened. In the end, you may want to wait until they are twelve. If you're an adult or young adult, take the chance on The Thickety: A Path Begins. I hope you enjoy it just as much as I did. I'm simply dying for the next one and am so excited to read more and more by Mr. White!!!!! He's definitely an exceptional author who can twist a tale like no other.
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