“Coakley’s world-building is lush and provocative…”

Posted by on May 11, 2014 | Comments Off on “Coakley’s world-building is lush and provocative…”

“Coakley’s world-building is lush and provocative, exploring the ways in which ethnic and cultural conflict can calcify over a generation through a splendidly realized friendship between antagonists, fraught with mistrust and torn loyalties but cemented by a gut-level recognition of shared humanity (as Ryder asks, “Are we only allowed to care about people who are on our side?”). The book also achieves a sophisticated intertwining of religious and magical mythologies that illuminate both the fantasy world and the ways in which its history and belief systems have been manipulated over time. At its heart, though, Witchlanders is all about character, and the struggle of two equally sympathetic, equally flawed protagonists to reconcile inherited enmity with grudging mutual affection—all while battling giant earth-monsters—is what gives this book its urgency and depth. Fans of contemplative, psychologically rich (but no less action-packed) fantasies à la Ursula Le Guin will welcome this warm, inventive debut and wait eagerly for the implied sequel.”

The Bulletin for the Center for Children’s Books, September 2011 issue. 

Published by Atheneum (S&S)
ISBN-10: 1442420049
ISBN-13: 9781442420045
Grades: 7 and up

More Praise for Witchlanders


* “Exquisite storytelling plus atmospheric worldbuilding equals one stunning teen debut.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Read the full review here.

* “Plot twists unfold at a riveting pace, the boys’ characters are compellingly sketched, and Coakley explores her subject matter masterfully without falling prey to safe plot choices.”  Publishers Weekly (starred review) Read the full review here.

*”This ambitious tale is tautly spun. Coakley’s world comes to life with exquisite detail and imagery; readers will feel the chill of the frost and smell the crackling bonfires. High fantasy lovers will gobble up Witchlanders.”  School Library Journal (starred review)


Awards and Nominations


2012 SCBWI Crystal Kite Award for the Americas Region

2013 White Pine Award nomination

2013 Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award (M.Y.R.C.A.) nomination


Other Honours


Canadian Children’s Book Centre “Best Books” (starred selection)

 ABC New Voices 

Junior Library Guild

OLA Best Bets for Children and Young Adults

Scholastic Book Club


Author Blurbs

“As unique and enchanting a world as Garth Nix’s Abhorsen myth: here’s a thrilling tale of the clash between two magical races, Witchlanders and Baen, seen through the eyes of very likeable young characters. And it’s written in beautiful prose. Warning – you may stay up all night until you are finished and you will want more! Lena Coakley is definitely a new star in the fantasy firmament.”

-O.R. Melling, author of Chronicles of Faerie

“Witchlanders is a novel that crackles with magic and storytelling and vibrates with the music of words.”
-Arthur Slade

Witchlanders is a spellbinding fantasy set in a complex and richly rendered world. Coakley deftly balances a rip-roaring adventure with the more somber nuances of a culture steeped in conflict, and her writing is some of the most gorgeous I’ve read in a debut novel. Brava!
Elizabeth C. Bunce, author of A Curse Dark as Gold and StarCrossed