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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
The Goddess Within by Iva Kenaz is the sequel to the historical fantasy book The Witch Within, reading as a stand-alone with its young protagonist, Berka. With knowledge of what Berka divinely possesses, she is raised by her father in the 16th-century Italian wilderness, one which holds the mythical and magical that co-exist beyond the treacherous cities and villages constructed by man. The seclusion is a mixed blessing, but one her father was unwilling to avoid. As Berka grows into herself and the mystical realm that surrounds her, she meets a faun named Giss who offers the companionship she desperately needs. Her happiness is shattered when the world of man invades Berka's space, and she is forced to confront all she has been previously protected from.
Iva Kenaz writes with a panache that comfortably blends history, fantasy, and the refinement of literary fiction in The Goddess Within. A lot has gone into the story, and even with Berka at the helm, the guidance of spirits and transcendent creatures and entities help the young woman on both of her journeys; one of discovery of herself and the other to rescue and reclaim those she cares for and all she believes in. She is multi-dimensional and thoroughly fleshed out as a character, and the supporting cast—diverse and bountiful as they are—are independently constructed and easy to separate. I think this a wonderful story that can be enjoyed by readers of multiple genres, and would be equally comfortable recommending it to all ages.