Title: The Thickety: A Path Begins
Author: J.A. White
Hardcover: 496 pages
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)
Genre: Fiction/Middle Grade
Rating: 4 stars
The Thickety: A Path Begins is a spellbinding tale about a girl, the Thickety, and the power of magic. Fans of Neil Gaiman will love this thrilling new world.
When Kara Westfall was five years old, her mother was convicted of the worst of all crimes: witchcraft. Years later, Kara and her little brother, Taff, are still shunned by the people of their village, who believe that nothing is more evil than magic…except, perhaps, the mysterious forest that covers nearly the entire island. It has many names, this place. Sometimes it is called the Dark Wood, or Sordyr’s Realm. But mostly it’s called the Thickety.
The villagers live in fear of the Thickety and the terrible creatures that live there. But when an unusual bird lures Kara into the forbidden forest, she discovers a strange book with unspeakable powers. A book that might have belonged to her mother.
And that is just the beginning of the story.
Okay I’m going to get this out of the way first. The publishing or marketing team got it wrong. No way in hell that The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White is a middle grade book. Maybe upper middle grade but that’s it. There are some scary and dark undertones through the entire. Although I enjoyed it immensely I wouldn’t recommend to my 11 year old cousin. This book starts off with the kidnapping of Kara, who is accused of witchcraft. After miracles of miracles she is proven innocent but sadly she watches her mother who was also accused of witchcraft get burned at the stake. Yeah we have the hold Crucible slash Salem Witch Trials going on here.
Here’s the thing. Kara Westfall lives in a backward ass, crazy village. If you’re a female and is accused of practicing magic/witchcraft you can kiss your butt goodbye. Or in the case of Kara you can be shunned and abused by the whole town. 7 years after she was proved innocent of any wrongdoing, Kara and the rest of the family rejected and pretty much ignored unless something goes astray. There is still fear that Kara possesses magically abilities. They aren’t wrong but it’s not like Kara is evil. If she was all those villagers would most likely be dead. Nope Kara is pure of heart and soul and that is why it broke my heart when she went through all that abuse put upon by the villagers and there “heavenly” leader. At one point in the books she was thrown into a well and buried under rocks to once again prove that she wasn’t a witch.
And that dear readers is where I don’t think that this book should have been marked as middle grade. As an adult I enjoyed the world building and the story. I was fully immersed in J.A. White writing and invested in Kara and her struggles as she tries to survive the hardships she was given at such an early age. Still have to warn parents that this might be too dark and scary for some children so proceed with cautions if you’re thinking of buy this book for a young one.
With that said there is a shining light. I promise.
Even with all the darkest and evil that goes on, I adore and admire Kara and her little brother Taff. But Kara stole a piece of my heart with her courage, resilient and strength she showed through all of the adversity and hatred she faced from the people in her backward ass village. Kara was the glue that kept her family together as her father stood by and watched. Although there is a reason for the father’s weakness and behavior I still couldn’t forgive him no matter what. For better or worse he should have been more of a father. You don’t let your children nearly starve to death because of the ignorance and bigot of the villagers. Now time to shut my trap before I get started again.
As I stated early I think this book is suited for the mature upper middle graders since there are some dark overtones in the book. Still it’s a great read that will have you rooting for the good guy. Also book 2, The Thickety: The Whispering Trees comes out March 10, 2015.
About the Author
J. A. White lives in New Jersey with his wife, three sons, and a hamster named Ophelia that doesn’t like him very much. When he’s not making up stories, he teaches a bunch of kids how to make up stories (along with math and science and other important stuff). He wishes dragons were real because it would be a much cooler way to get to work.
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