Doppelganger, by Marie Brennan.
This was a book I stumbled across by accident on one of those book exchange shelves you find in the workplace. I was intrigued by its original spin on witchcraft as a schooled discipline, as well as it being a birthright. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Brennan interweaves various disciplines, ranging from warrior to witch. They are inextricably linked to The Goddess in her five states: the four elements, and as the warrior. What this book explores is the concept that, for witches, the first magic ritual when they are five days old, creates a doppelganger which has to be killed in order for the witch to be able to control her power. The doppelganger is referred to as being “the antithesis to magic”. Some of these doppelgangers survive, most likely to an exposure to starlight which creates the soul. If the child receives its soul, it cannot be killed by anyone but its other self unless they intend to kill both babies.
Mirage (warrior) and Miryo (witch in training) discover each other and learn about how well they are linked. They are in a desperate race to find a way to ensure the survival of them both, as well as ensuring Miryo can reach the much sought after position of full-fledged witch, before she reaches for her power and potentially kills them both by accident. They cannot accept The Goddess meant to create another self, only for it to be murdered. Certainly not if the witch had to go against her conscience to do so.
This book really did surprise me with how well paced it was, lots of twists and turns to keep things interesting, and certainly felt very original in its concept. I’m really looking forward to reading the second book: Warrior and Witch.