Young Adult

The Wise One

By

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A young adult version of A Discovery of Witches, this story expertly blends the folklore of the Celtic people with present-day life.

Synopsis

Mckenna’s never thought much of her nightmares, but on her seventeenth birthday, a vivid dream of burning at the stake awakens her dormant abilities, thrusting her into a world where faeries are real, spirits hold a grudge, and a High Priestess obsessed with a 16th-century prophecy is tracking her every move.

​Now, her overprotective dads, Seán and Andre, are forced to tell her the truth—they know who her birth mother is, and her life is not the surrogate story she’s ​always ​been told. Abigail, Mckenna’s mom, is some sort of mystic, and Mckenna, a Wise One.

​Whatever the hell that means.

​With the help of a persistent little wren and company of a newfound friend, Mckenna journeys to Ireland in search of her mother and real answers. Along the way, she learns to harness her innate magic and trust her intuition, as best she can anyway—Cillian, a kind and passionate delegate ​who crosses her path, is proving much harder to read.

Only her mother could truly help her halt her ill fate and prepare her for what’s to come... before she gives in to the darkness she knows is buried deep within.

In a world torn apart by violence and environmental distress, magic may be the only hope to stitch it back together. Fair-skinned, auburn haired Mckenna O’Dwyer is not an average teenager; the child of a surrogate living with her Black American and white Irish dads in rural Massachusetts, her life is anything but normal. But, when she learns about her Irish dad’s past and that her mother is real, her world spins out of control. Feeling betrayed and desperate for answers, Mckenna runs away with her newfound friend Nissa, crossing the Atlantic and finding her way back to her roots through a series of serendipitous events. After disembarking in Dublin, Mckenna and Nissa meet Cillian, a young Irish delegate working to bridge the divide between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Cillian offers to transport Mckenna and Nissa across the border and, though they are wary of the offer, the girls decide to trust him. On their journey, Mckenna and Nissa learn important lessons about themselves and each other, viewing the world from a different angle from that which they have always done. As the truth comes to light, the three enhance their bond.


Ireland at Samhain is a perfect backdrop to this story, released just in time for Halloween. Ghosts, magic, and reincarnation are pervasive themes throughout this story, converging in 1991 while tensions between Northern Ireland and the Republic were running high. Multiple storylines create a dense tableau and entwine easily despite the overall complexity of the narrative. Otherwise improbable events are acceptably explained away by magic in order to allow the plot to advance uninhibited. Readers will build a strong affection for each of the featured relationships in the story, anxiously waiting for them to converge and resolve. Mckenna’s upbringing is rare among young adult novels, inviting consideration of what love can look like.


Despite a smattering of typographical errors, the book flows easily, capturing readers’ attention from beginning to end. Occasional profanity appears in the text, and the romance is merely suggestive. Much like a young adult version of A Discovery of Witches, this story expertly blends the folklore of the Celtic people with present-day life. This book is highly recommended to readers who enjoy young adult literature and the magical landscape of Ireland.


Grades 9-12

Reviewed by

My career has focused on children’s literature, primarily, but I have a love for YA books, too. I began reviewing books in 2015, since which time I have had over 500 published reviews!

I primarily write reviews, but will create video reviews like this upon request: https://youtu.be/9MQx-u_NFI8

Synopsis

Mckenna’s never thought much of her nightmares, but on her seventeenth birthday, a vivid dream of burning at the stake awakens her dormant abilities, thrusting her into a world where faeries are real, spirits hold a grudge, and a High Priestess obsessed with a 16th-century prophecy is tracking her every move.

​Now, her overprotective dads, Seán and Andre, are forced to tell her the truth—they know who her birth mother is, and her life is not the surrogate story she’s ​always ​been told. Abigail, Mckenna’s mom, is some sort of mystic, and Mckenna, a Wise One.

​Whatever the hell that means.

​With the help of a persistent little wren and company of a newfound friend, Mckenna journeys to Ireland in search of her mother and real answers. Along the way, she learns to harness her innate magic and trust her intuition, as best she can anyway—Cillian, a kind and passionate delegate ​who crosses her path, is proving much harder to read.

Only her mother could truly help her halt her ill fate and prepare her for what’s to come... before she gives in to the darkness she knows is buried deep within.

The Wise One

Bruised and battered, the young woman was dragged through

the screaming, unruly mob. Her wrists were bound behind

her by a rope as thick as the noose she now faced.

“Buidseach! Buidseach!” Witch. Witch.

“Bàsachadh!”

Die.

She halted in front of the noose, unperturbed, for she knew

her death would end swiftly. The man who held the end of her

rope looked from her calm expression to the noose, and let out

a shrill laugh.

“A quick snap of the neck, aye, Bessie girl? You don’t think

you’re getting off that easy, do you? Nah, that there isn’t for

your kind.”

The ugly man, towering and troll-like, hauled her further on

like a rag doll, fi nally leading her to a pit loaded with broken

wood fragments, branches, and logs.

She was going to be burned alive.

In that instant, her body trembled with the fear she had been

trying so desperately to conceal. Of dying, no—she knew this life

would not be her last, and she was ready to part ways with this

physical body. But she would be lying to herself if she said she

hadn’t been hoping for a less painful demise.

He tightened the rope from her wrists around the wood

banister that stood erect in the centre of the pit, then secured

more rope round her ankles. “Spill your guts, now or never, buidseach,”

he spat.

The woman scanned the crowd. Foolish, blind, she thought.

They had no idea what would become of their Earth. No, she

did not regret her actions. And if she had to burn for them,

then so be it.

She held her chin up and addressed the spectators. Her voice

was steady, knowing. “There will come a day when your fate shall

depend upon a witch such as me—and you will beg for mercy.”

The crowd cackled and spat back, simultaneously enraged

and amused. But no one laughed louder than the troll-man.

“Devil-worshipping hag.”

He lowered his torch to the base of the pit, and the flames

caught quickly. She watched them crawl towards her boots, but

her eyes were forced shut by the rising smoke. In an instant, beads

of sweat leaked like rain on her forehead, and her lungs swelled

to twice their size.

Just when she hoped she might pass out from the heat, the

flames grew larger, now licking the base of her legs. What followed

was an acute, unfathomable pain. The flames travelled higher,

higher, until they enveloped the lower half of her body—and she

could no longer bear the sheer agony of her skin melting away.


Abredonia Woods, Massachusetts

September 13, 1991

In the dead of night, Mckenna O’Dwyer’s screams forced Seán

and Andre up and out of bed. They rushed over to their daughter’s

bedroom.

“Shhh . . . sh, it’s alright, swan, you’re dreaming,” Seán said

as he stroked her hair and cradled her against his chest.

“Another nightmare,” said Andre, trying to steady his daughter’s

shuddering body.

Seán shook her gently. “Mckenna . . . Mckenna, do you hear

me? Why isn’t she waking up?”

“She seems to be in pain . . . I’ve never seen her like—”

She let out one long, anguished cry.

“Mckenna!” her dads called out. Her eyes shot open.


She was alive. How? Where was she now? When was she? Who

were those nasty people?

The clock on her nightstand read 3:04 a.m. Relief swept over

her, but only briefly—a lump rose in the back of her throat and

rose out of her, making her sob like a colicky baby.

Andre squeezed her hand. “It’s alright, Mckenna. Oh, geez,

you’re drenched . . .”

“I—I’m h-h-hot . . .”

“You’re okay.” Seán rocked her. “It’s your birthday, swan,

you know that? It’s your birthday . . .” He said this as though

it mattered, as though it would make her forget somehow. As

though her skin weren’t just been crawling with flames.

“Happy birthday, Mckenna,” Andre whispered.

But all she wanted to do was weep.


The High Priestess’s arm was growing tired. She’d been dangling

her gold chain over the globe for nearly three hours, her faithful

stone secured at the end of it, sweeping steadily over every continent,

country, city. Carved from an ancient Irish stone, Misgaun

Medb, the pendant’s magnetic power could draw in whatever the

bearer pleased.

Except her.

The High Priestess felt Pravadi’s eyes on her. “Won’t you at

least let me light the fire?”

“No. No fire.” The Priestess wasn’t fond of them. “You’re

sure it’s today?”

“Yes,” said Pravadi. “When has a vision of mine ever

been false?”

The minute hand shifted. At 3:04 a.m., the log in the fireplace

sparked a solo flame, making the Priestess start. A warning

from the salamanders? She shuddered at the thought, and the

stone grazed the globe’s surface—only for a second. Then like a

magnet, it shot past Canada and affixed onto an eastern region

in the United States. “There you are,” the High Priestess said, her

mouth twisted in satisfaction.

Pravadi lowered her square spectacles on the bridge of her

nose. “She’s just turned of age,” said Pravadi, keenly. “I knew my

vision wasn’t mistaken.”

The Priestess didn’t mind her gloating. She leaned back,

revelling in the stone’s powers. The finest point of the stone was

pinned onto a small town in Massachusetts—Abredonia Woods.

She had been waiting a long time to locate the girl, known as

the Wise One. Too long.

“What about Abigail, the girl’s mother?” Pravadi said.

“Perhaps now the stone can track her, too, and we can be done

with it.”

The High Priestess rolled her eyes, wondering how a seer

could be so forgetful. “The spell Abigail cast when her child was

born protects her from being traced by anyone other than the

Wise One. She is our only hope.”

“And if the Wise One finds her before the first Scottish Scroll

is fulfilled? And once she does, if they both disappear . . .?”

Really, she should get a head scan. “My protégé will see to

it that the Wise One fulfills the first Scroll before she locates her

mother, then will keep them both close ’til I step in. And so shall

it be,” she said with longing, imagining the hour the Scottish

Scrolls would be fulfilled.

“And if there are delays? We have until—”

“I ken our deadline,” the High Priestess snapped. “Have

faith,” she said mostly to herself as she tied the chain back

around her neck.

About the author

Katrina Tortorici Anglehart is an Italian-Canadian from Montreal. A devoted academic, she holds a BA in Journalism; a graduate certificate in Scriptwriting; and an MFA in Creative Writing. She works as a Freelance editor. view profile

Published on October 28, 2020

Published by Kat Biggie Press

70000 words

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by

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