The Witch Within — Iva Kenaz
If you’re the kind of person who has a problem getting into slow starts, this story jumps right in as we follow Talitha, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been accused of witchcraft in medieval Bohemia after attempting to save her younger brother’s life from a wolf attack. When we start reading, she is running into the cursed lands to escape would-be captors. Abandoned by her family, she is led by what appears to be the essence or magic of her grandmother, who some years before was also driven from the village under accusations of witchcraft.
As she makes her journey to find her grandmother, words and thoughts pertaining to the earth, healing and magic seemingly come unbidden to her as she seems to know things she doesn’t remember having ever learned before. It’s not long, however, until she is captured by two men who plan to take her back to the village. While one man beats her and threatens all sorts of vileness, the other seems to have a soft spot and a mote of integrity within his being, one which Talitha responds to in kind. There is a romantic thread here, one which is light and second to the overall plot, but helps feed the story along. Once she frees herself, she finds her ancestral cave where she truly begins to uncover the keys to her ancestry and heritage.
This book reads like historical fiction, literary fiction, and fantasy all in one. It’s well-written in flowing prose and delves into an earth-based, ancestral spiritualism that centers around the feminine mystique. I’ve long been fascinated with the witch trials, both in the U.S. and Europe, and found this book met my interest on the topic, as well as my love of fantasy. Kenaz integrates Bohemian myth and lore with the fantastical and seamlessly merges them. Talitha is also a well-written character, as her thoughts, fears and desires are communicated fully along the journey. What I liked best about it was that Talitha really does have magic, but it’s something she has to learn how to embrace and come to terms with. She is confronted with both sides of the coin, and she must decide for herself which is the way of light and who is good and who is evil along her journey. Almost like a fairy tale quest, except the hag isn’t so easy to spot right off the bat.
This quick, captivating read merges history, botany and magic into a book that will appeal to lovers of fantasy as well as historical fiction. You can find it on Amazon for $2.99 in Kindle format.
In June 2014 she published her first novel, The Witch Within, and has been currently working on a sequel to the book as well as her second novel, My Melancholic Diary.