“Readers will feel the chill of the frost and smell the crackling bonfires.”

Posted by on May 13, 2014 | Comments Off on “Readers will feel the chill of the frost and smell the crackling bonfires.”


Published by Atheneum (S&S), Fall 2011
Hardcover, 416 pages
ISBN-10: 1442420049
ISBN-13: 9781442420045
Grades: 7 and up

High in their mountain covens, red witches pray to the Goddess, protecting the Witchlands by throwing the bones and foretelling the future.

It’s all a fake.
At least, that’s what Ryder thinks. He doubts the witches really deserve their tithes—one quarter of all the crops his village can produce. And even if they can predict the future, what danger is there to foretell, now that his people’s old enemy, the Baen, has been defeated?

But when a terrifying new magic threatens both his village and the coven, Ryder must confront the beautiful and silent witch who holds all the secrets. Everything he’s ever believed about witches, the Baen, magic and about himself will change, when he discovers that the prophecies he’s always scorned—
Are about him.

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 masterflly 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)

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 Rder 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 m
utual 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.

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

Check out www.witchlanders.com for more information!