Original publish date: 3 October 2014
Magic and witches. Two distinct eras: the 1980s and the 1650s. Two 16 year old girls traversing the magical world among oblivious humans. Claribel Ortega’s The Skinwalker’s Apprentice weaves the tales of the two young witches together.
In the 1980s, 16 year old Emerald Kipp is a troublemaker in her high school with vibrantly blue and then pink colored hair. Emerald’s friends, Jackson, a younger version of Denzel Washington, Seneka, and Charlie round out the group of “outsiders” in high school. Emerald and her Aunt Nora are witches, but Emerald is only allowed to practice her magic in the safe confines of her bedroom and Aunt Nora doesn’t use her magic at all.
In the 1650s, Margo Pennyfeather comes from a family of witches who are trying to establish themselves in America but are looked down upon by their contemporaries. Margo’s family has long been Seers, those who are able to see the future. Margo receives an invitation to study as an apprentice with the High Priestess of The Coven and she is excited for the opportunity to study and use her magic. But as good as it seems, can it be true, or is there some hidden catch?
The story is an interesting concept that takes a new tact on the whole magic and witches aspect that doesn’t have a centralized magic school that dominates many established stories of young people and magic. I was intrigued by the two different story lines, and clearly they are related and will come together at some point, but, despite being a novella and, therefore, condensed by nature, the two story lines are not tied together well and it raises far too many questions than it answers. And with the concept of drawing Emerald’s and Margo’s stories together, there was an instant with a continuity error of name usage, which made me seriously question how the stories are related and the thought process behind the story arc for the subsequent novellas.
Overall, I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.