On the outskirts of the Thickety—a sprawling forest full of strange, dangerous creatures—lies Kara Westfall’s village, which lives in fear of the evil witches who some say were all killed hundreds of years ago. But when Kara was five years old, her mother was murdered after she was reported to be a witch. And although Kara never displayed the same skills, people whisper that she’s a witch, too.
It’s been seven years, but those rumors have never faded. Kara and her younger brother, Taff, have been ostracized ever since the fateful night when their mother died, even though they know as well as anyone else that magic is evil. But that doesn’t matter to the villagers, and least of all Grace Stone, the village leader’s snooty daughter, who is determined to make Kara’s life a misery.
But then Kara is lured into the Thickety by a one-eyed bird who leads her to a grimoire—a volume of spells which she believed was once possessed by her mother—and with it, she discovers that she too can cast spells. She knows she must destroy it, but it pulls at her, not allowing her to let it rest. And she begins doing things with it she never would have done before.
There are secrets in the village: about the Thickety, the grimoire, even Kara’s mother. But will she be able to uncover them before it is too late? Or will she become the witch the villagers have always believed she had the potential to become?
A Path Begins is an engaging, brilliant fantasy novel, the first in a quartet full of twisting plotlines. Kara is a strong main character struggling to understand her magical powers and the essence of who she is, one of the best heroines I’ve recently read. She reminds me of strong characters like Mara in City of Islands, Makenna in The Goblin Wood, and Luna in The Girl Who Drank the Moon. I also liked the unique feeling of the world J. A. White evokes in both the Thickety and Kara’s village, full of danger and strangeness with creepy undertones. Altogether, I highly recommend The Thickety: A Path Begins to fantasy lovers ages ten and up.
Note: A Path Begins was selected as one of our favorite books of 2020!