It is crazy how fast this summer went by! In the next two weeks I’ve got to head back to college and I still haven’t finished the amount of books I wanted to over the summer holidays. Thankfully, I got the opportunity to read Irena Brignull’s awesome novel The Hawkweed Prophecy. The book tells the tales of two girls whose souls were switched at birth and how destiny brings the duo together.
Raven Hawkweed has spent most of her years perfecting her witchcraft to the point where she has gained the respect of the other witches in the coven by the power she’s harnessed. Her sister (Charlock), on the other hand, is looked down upon as the daintiest Hawkweed sister and the most naïve one of the two. Since they were children, it’s been prophesied that one of the Hawkweed sisters will give birth to a daughter who will be queen of all the witches. Hell-bent on having her daughter become queen, Raven uses powerful magic to ensure that Charlock’s children are all boys. After being cursed by a rival coven, Charlock gives birth to a daughter. In a last attempt to solidify her daughter as queen, Raven conjures up high level magic and switches the soul of Charlock’s baby with that of a human baby. As fate would have it, these two girls grow up and find one another. What they do after they meet is what makes The Hawkweed Prophecy the great book that it is.
I loved the fact that The Hawkweed Prophecy focused primarily on friendship and sisterhood. Poppy and Ember become best friends from the time that they discover each other in the woods. One, the real daughter and rightful queen, and the other, an unfortunate soul who ended up in Raven’s plot to covet the throne. They exchange information of one another’s worlds and quickly begin to trust each other. Ember, being the simple one out of the pair, is more susceptible to the dangers lurking in the world around and Poppy feels as if it’s her duty to protect Ember. Poppy even considers forfeiting her love interest so that Ember can be happy. The novel dedicates a large part of the plot on building the relationship between the two girls and it pays off. The bond between Ember and Poppy is akin to real life relationships and it’s rare to find YA Fantasy novels nowadays that can effectively portray relatable relationships.
The author also does an amazing job with Raven’s and Charlock’s characters. Raven is the hard-ass, the sister who is supposedly willing to take all the risks if it means that she gets her way in the end. Charlock is the innocent one who isn’t afraid to stand her ground when she has to protect the ones she loves the most. The story begins and ends with the rivalry between the two sisters and how their conflict extends to their children.
The only problem I have with this novel is the way it treated male characters. I completely understand that the book is centered on sisterhood and women in power but it felt like, at times, it would just throw its male characters aside. While Leo was awarded his own background story and some scenes would focus on his relationship with Poppy, I didn’t feel the chemistry between the two. It felt like the author thought that romance should be included in the novel and Leo’s character was conjured up for that and that alone. I also didn’t like the fact that Poppy’s father seems so one-dimensional. He almost even seemed frightened of Poppy (not because of her abilities but because of her teenage angst). Lastly, there’s the fact that the witches in the coven don’t attach themselves to any male. They procreate with them and then move on. I’m very curious about the whereabouts of the male children Charlock gave birth to. Did the witches kill them or leave them to fend for themselves in the human world?
Despite those issues, I think that The Hawkweed Prophecy is one of the best books I’ve read all summer. It’s a novel that I can see myself reading again and enjoying it as much as I did the first time.