Goodreads: The Thickety: A Path Begins
Series: The Thickety #1
Published: May 2014
Kara Westfall’s mother died when she was a child, condemned for witchcraft. Now the villagers shun her and her younger brother and keep them in abject poverty through meanness and cheating. When Kara discovers a book of spells in the surrounding forest, however, she experiences for the first time a sense of power. But then the book falls into the wrong hands and Kara must decide if she will exact revenge on the people who have wronged her or risk everything to save them.
The Thickety: A Path Begins opens with a terrifying illustration of human cruelty and the story only gets darker from there. Middle-grade books may be associated with lightheartedness and hope, but this one upsets all those generalizations, taking readers down a road full of pain, misery, and evil–and the light at the end of the tunnel is barely a flicker. Some goodness must be left in the world, however, and that thought must be what keeps readers going when everything in the story seems to point to the contrary.
Perhaps the greatest triumph in the book’s unrelenting depiction of evil is the protagonist’s own descent into darkness. Warned against magic and its potential to corrupt the user, young Kara Westfall chooses to pursue it anyway because magic gives her the one thing she never had–power. Now, able to the take her revenge on the people who have hurt her and her family for her entire life, she must decide whether she will do so or if she has the moral courage to turn away from that path. Her struggle is both real and understandable–readers will no doubt have as little sympathy for the villagers as Kara does. And yet the book asks both readers and Kara to make the right choice, even if it comes at a cost.
Few books seem to depict the subtlety and the seductiveness of temptation as this middle-grade read and fewer still depict morality as something to be pursued unrelentingly at cost to one’s self. Such depictions make this read not only powerful, but also real. I cannot wait to see what adventures the sequel has in store.