K.M Allan is a writer I have been following since before she became that beautiful mistress of words; an author. Time and time again I have been inspired by her tried and true writing tips. So, when she published her first book, The Beginning, I had to read it, if only to see her writing techniques in action.
I received Blackbirch: The Beginning, along with its second part, The Dark Half, for my birthday this past summer and have been waiting to enjoy The Beginning on the perfect day. My thoughts are still fresh on the writing which is, for me, the best time to share them.
From the book: Welcome to Blackbirch. It’s a place no one forgets. Except for Josh Taylor.
The fatal car crash took more than 17-year-old Josh’s parents. It stole his memories and returned him to his birthplace, Blackbirch, a tourist town steeped in a history of witchcraft.
Amongst friends he’s forgotten and a life he doesn’t want, Josh is haunted by nightmares so believable he swears the girl in his dreams is real. Kallie is so captivating he ignores her blood-stained hands, but he can’t overlook the blue glow summoned to her skin.
Kallie says it’s an ancient magic they share and a secret worth hiding, because as Josh discovers, they aren’t the only gifted ones.
To restore his memories and find the true cause of the car accident, he must learn what’s real. And what secrets Blackbirch has buried in its woods.
Here is a book for people that enjoy subtlety and a glimpse at the adventure we all want to live. Small tokens, dreams, even the title of the book itself take on new meanings as the characters reveal new things about the town of Blackbirch, about the past, and about themselves.
Here is Max, hopelessly in love with Sarah, Sarah genuinely concerned for Josh, Josh haunted by the death of his parents in a car crash and Eve. Dark, single-minded Eve, as appealing to Josh as the apple her namesake ate.
I personally love witches. I have three tarot decks and a deck of oracle fairy cards. The thought of books with yellow pages and faded ink and too many beeswax candles take me back to the summer of 2019, when I spent a week cooking at a witch camp. Rituals and song and dreams are part of my life and part of my writing; I could live the life of Josh Taylor and give color to my magick.
I enjoyed The Beginning on an afternoon when the sunshine was golden, dappled only with clouds, and the smell of apples was in the air because The Beginning is a not a long book at two hundred and twelve pages, but it is an engrossing book where the art of K.M Allan’s prose-like descriptions and alive characters paint a picture in your head until you cannot smell your apples and only the musty smell of old books and ash is what you breathe in.
As I read, I picked up on the hints, adapted to K.M Allan’s writing and learned nothing is to be taken as it is. I pieced together pieces of the future before it happened and found myself buried deeper in the book than before as I waited and turned pages to see if my predictions were right. Sometimes I was wrong, sometimes I was right, but I turned the next page eagerly because good writing transports.
K.M Allan foreshadows. She hints, she weaves together a puzzle and pulls it all together only at the end. She stays shockingly true to each character’s perspective; there are no over-lapping viewpoints here. Watch each character have his or her own experience of a moment, then hold your breath as the same scene takes on new meaning through the eyes of the next person in the scene.
There is no doubt this book needs a continuation. The Beginning clashes to a close, resolved and not resolved, standing on a line where you can look back at the past and reflect or turn your gaze to the future and delight in wondering what happens next?
So slice your own plate of apples and taste the line between summer and fall before it is gone. Find freedom with Josh. Admire the selfishness of Eve, the innocence of Sarah, the lightheartedness of Max. Experience the story of four young people all brought together by circumstance.
Delve into Blackbirch. Experience The Beginning.
This book is for you if you love fantasy on the line where it enters your world, if you shuffle well your tarot cards, manifest magic in your journals, or if you light candles for more than light.
This book is also for you if you enjoy strong writing and appreciate prose. The poet in me reveled in delightful descriptions, the writer in me delighted in the story.
I wanted to read book two in this series right away but, because I enjoy savoring one experience before embarking on the next, I will be reading Blackbirch: The Dark Half perhaps on a cold fall day, perhaps when the snow flies. I read books when I am called to them.
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