White, J.A. The Thickety: A Path Begins, 512 pgs. Katherine Tegen Books, 2014. $16.99. Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG
Kara Westfall still remembers the night, years ago, when as a five-year-old she witnessed her mother convicted of witchcraft. Even though time has passed, the people of her village continue to shun Kara, her brother, and her father. The villagers fear magic and believe that it is a source of evil that should be wiped out. The threat of magic is matched by only the fear the people have for the Thickety. The Thickety is a large dark forest that covers most of the island where Kara lives and whose constant spread of noxious and deadly growth threatens to take over the entire island. One day Kara is lured into the forest by an extraordinary bird that seems intent on leading Kara to a certain book. Once the book is in Kara’s possession an adventure begins with Kara discovering her past and future while experiencing the power of magic.
This is the first in a trilogy about Kara and her adventures with magic. The story is original and the characters well developed. Readers will be reminded of colonial Salem and the witch trials that stained that era’s history while reading about the religious fanaticism of Kara’s village that feeds the fear and also ends in violence. This book is aimed at upper elementary, but may be a bit intense for that age group. Most of the violence is implied or happens off page, however, the atmosphere of menace and peril focused on characters who are children is unsettling. Overall, the book is an enjoyable story that will leave those who appreciate fantasy and adventure excited to read the next installment.
EL, MS—ESSENTIAL AEB