Review: Witchlanders by Lena Coakley

Title: Witchlanders
Author: Lena Coakley
Publisher: Atheneum
Publication Date: August 30, 2011
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Source: Galley Grab
High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.

It’s all a fake.

At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?

But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—

Are about him.
Witchlanders is a high fantasy novel, told from the points of view of two boys from opposing factions: Ryder (a Witchlander) and Falpian (a Baen). Both characters are likable for different reasons. Ryder is a hard worker, big and strong, who possesses an iron will. When he decides to do something, everyone better get out of his way because he will see it done. Falpian is smaller and relies more on his wit than Ryder does (though Ryder is also no fool). Both are in possession of some magical talents as well, but Falpian is more educated in magic than Ryder is. Both characters have suffered loss within their families. Ryder is left bearing the responsibility of his sisters. Falpian is alone with his daddy issues. The two boys complement each other, which makes it fun to watch as they battle one another and also as they work together.

I like that the book spends time focusing on this relationship that develops between two friends out of necessity. It's something different for those who are tired of there always being romantic complications. Ryder does seem to have an attraction toward one of the witch girls, but that is pushed to the background as more pressing issues remain at the forefront of the plot.

The witches in this one fit really well into the high fantasy world that Lena Coakley has created. They throw bones to try to predict the future, which is pretty typical high fantasy type stuff as far as witches are concerned. On the other side of the border, the Baen magicians use song to power their spells. They sing spells that do anything from changing the weather to stopping an enemy's heart. I really like the magic system in Witchlanders. It's a bit different and that makes it even more interesting.

The pacing is not what I would call fast, but it is not too slow either. It is comfortable. It lets the reader relax into the story and get to know what is needed to know about this world and its people as the novel progresses. The writing is good, and as a result it is easy to become immersed in the world and the story. The ending suggests that a sequel is coming, but still leaves the reader with a feeling of resolution for now.

Witchlanders is a wonderful YA fantasy with unique magics and lovable characters. I definitely recommend it to fans of high fantasy, future-seeing witches, singing magicians, saber-toothed dogs, male POVs, adventures, and unlikely friendships.


  1. I had an eGalley of this from Simon & Schuster's GalleyGrab, but I never got around to reading it and then it expired. :( But I heard good things about it and your review is making this look even more intriguing. So maybe I'll need to get a finished copy of it after all.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Carina @ Fictional Distraction

  2. I'm really, really curious about this book. Like Carina, I had a galley for it, but didn't have a chance to read it. (I'm totally kicking myself for that now!) Great review! I'm really looking forward to reading this. :)

  3. I LOVE high fantasy and I LOVE this cover! I've read some great reviews for this one and I"m glad to see another! Hopefully I can get my hands on it one of these days!


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