The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement.
But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel – a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.
Fascinated by secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realises the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her . . .
Trigger & Content Warnings:
- Racism & colourism
- Ableist language
- Persecution for witchcraft
- Physical, verbal & emotional child abuse
- Sexual assault
- Rape & statutory rape recounted
- Paedophilia & child molestation recounted
- Forced nonconsensual marriage*
- Exile & ex-communication
- Alcohol consumption
- Suicide recounted
- Self-harm & self-inflicted injuries
- Pregnancy & child pregnancy (secondary character)
- Death from childbirth (two on-page scenes), and mentions of miscarriage & stillbirth
- Graphic blood depiction & menstruation discussed
- Plague (multiple)
- Seizures & stroke (side character)
- Nonconsensual branding
- Death of a mother & father recounted
- Death of a son recounted
- Death of a best friend (on-page)
- Being burned alive
- Imprisonment & captivity
- Murder & attempted murder
- Knife violence & stabbing
- Animal death & sacrifice
Note: This book portrays a cult which uses its beliefs to justify abuse, torture, misogyny, racism & paedophilia, including the marriage, rape (‘bedding’) & impregnation of multiple children (not graphic or on-page, but mentioned & discussed by secondary characters).