Anne Bonny #BookReview The Witch’s Daughter by @DetectiveGretel Paula Brackston 5* @CorsairBooks #HistoricalFiction #BookOfShadows #Series

The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston
Book Of Shadows #1

 In the spring of 1628, young Bess Hawksmith watches her mother’s body swing limp from the Hanging Tree. She knows that only one man can save her from the same fate – Gideon Masters, the Warlock. She knows, too, that his help comes at a steep price.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself. She has spent the centuries in solitude, moving from place to place, surviving plagues, wars and the heartbreak that comes with immortality. Her loneliness comes to an abrupt end when she is befriended by a teenage girl called Tegan. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth opens her heart to Tegan and begins teaching her the ways of the Hedge Witch.

But Gideon is hunting her still. He will stop at nothing, determined even after centuries to claim her soul. And now, Bess is not fighting to save herself alone: now, she must protect the girl she has grown to love like a daughter.

My Review:

Ever since I remember reading/watching Roald Dahl’s The Witches. I have been a huge fan of the theme in books and film. From the childhood book series The Worst Witch, to the teen movie The Craft and in the AMAZING American Horror Story series, The Coven. Witches have something, that for me has so much appeal.
Least I am hoping it is that and not my Pendle roots showing!!!!

This novel is a journey through various historical era’s. A journey you make with a 384yr old witch, named Elizabeth Jane Hawksmith. Each witch in their new settlement must write a book of shadows. Which in itself is the story of the witch’s life. The novel therefore, jumps between the 1628 plague era, Victorian England, Flaunders Fields and the modern day. It is a whirlwind of a journey and it is so beautifully written.

The novel opens in Bathcombe, Wessex 1628 and a young woman fleeing for her life. We are aware that she is in great fear or her life. But we are unsure as to why/how. The author cleverly interweaves Elizabeth’s past into the modern day.

‘I can never let myself be made vulnerable by the illusion of safety’ – Elizabeth

February 2017, at Willow cottage in Matravers. Elisabeth is the new neighbour in a rural village. She wishes to life her life in peace and solitude, as close to nature as she can make it. But another new resident, isn’t so keen for that to happen, just yet!
Introducing bolshy teen, with a million questions Tegan. Who befriends Elizabeth and refuses to take no for an answer. The friendship blossoms over the following pages and it is very touching to see the fondness that grows within Elizabeth for the young teen.

‘And then you came along. The answer to my prayers’

Elizabeth sells herbs, oils and potions on Pasbury market. The friendless Tegan, somehow insinuates herself into Elizabeth’s life and her suspicions grow.
Does Elizabeth have secrets? What is she hiding?
Tegan is bullied and very withdrawn for her age. But it doesn’t take long until she has Elizabeth’s secret figured out. It is this discovery, that brings about Elizabeth’s story.

‘Let me tell you what it means to be a witch’

Firstly, the story of 1627 Wessex. The story of Elizabeth’s family. Her mother Anne, father John, sister Margaret and brother Thomas. This part of the novel is packed with emotion. It is rare I feel tearful at an event in a novel that look pace so long ago. But the author’s portrayal of the plague is some very powerful writing. The author makes it all feel so very real and it is heart-breaking to read.

It is also in this era that we meet Gideon the warlock, who has been pursuing Elizabeth her entire immortal life.

In the present-day Bess (Elizabeth) prepares to introduce Tegan to the magical events of the witch’s calendar. The modern day and past are written in alternating chapters.

‘Beltane is the festival of the sun and of fire. It heralds the coming of summer and fertility’

‘To know, to dare, to will, to be silent’ – The Witches Creed.

When the education of Tegan is disrupted, due to Tegan’s new boyfriend. Elizabeth calls into question her commitment. I didn’t want the friendship to end, yet you get the sense that Tegan is striving to be an adult. Leaving Elizabeth to feel pushed to one side. But both women should exercise caution, as Gideon is stalking, waiting and watching for the precise moment to strike and claim Bess.

The novel is brilliant and ideal for fans of historical fiction. I became very invested in Elizabeth’s journey through the era’s and look forward to reading the next novel in the book of shadows series. 5*

Paula Brackston
PJ Brackston Website

Anne Bonny #YA #BookReview Children Of Blood And Bone by @tomi_adeyemi 5* Genius #LegacyOfOrisha @MacmillanKidsUK #Zelie #Magic #Diviner

Children Of Blood And Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut Children of Blood and Bone.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.

Zélie remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. When different clans ruled – Burners igniting flames, Tiders beckoning waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoning forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, anyone with powers was targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Only a few people remain with the power to use magic, and they must remain hidden.

Zélie is one such person. Now she has a chance to bring back magic to her people and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must learn to harness her powers and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where strange creatures prowl, and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to come to terms with the strength of her magic – and her growing feelings for an enemy.

My Review:

I have never been so concerned with the future of magic, in my entire life! I am a huge YA fan, but will admit I don’t read many novels with the theme of magic. I decided to change that and bought my copy of Children Of Blood And Bone.
I am so glad that I did.

There is powerful writing before you even get to the first page. The writing is absolutely beautiful, and I instantly developed a huge respect for the author.

‘The incantations that spewed from her mouth like lava. The magic of dead that led her astray’

The writing is emotionally charged and if you read between the lines, you can see reflections to American black history.

‘I think about the way her corpse hung from that tree. I think about the king who took her away’

The novel is fiction/fantasy. Yet the historical and modern-day references are there. The theme of those whom wield all the power and their abuses over those who do not. Diverse literature is important in EVERY genre of fiction. But I would say most definitely in the YA genre. The younger generation want to read literature that represents the world they live in. Culture and race play a huge part of that world.

The story opens with our heroine and protagonist Zelie, she is a diviner. She is taking part in a sparing session with Mama Agba. When the guards arrive to collect ‘diviner tax’. A tax that is hugely inflated and used to oppress and enslave the diviner members of society. This is enforced by King Saran, who led the genocide against the diviners.

‘It’s not bad enough for the king to keep the diviners down. He has to break anyone who tries to help us’

Zelie notices the guard’s sword, which is a black blade made of majacite, created to weaken magic and burn the flesh. Zelie is also exposed to sexual threats and unwanted advances. Which she must tolerate against her will. . .

‘Keep my mouth shut, swallow my rage – Live to see another day’

Zelie despises the way she is treated, and she riles against this oppressive regime. But those around her, warn her such rage risks her own life and that of those she loves.

‘They don’t hate you my child. They hate what you were meant to become’ – Mama Agba

As the novel unfolds we learn the history of the diviners. The differing ten clans and their unique abilities. How the chosen children have the mark of white hair. The history of the diviners is incredibly moving, with Zelie having experienced the loss of her own mother at such a young age.

Love – Fear – Hate – Violence

11yrs previously the Maji People used their powers in defence and their magic disappeared. The power of the magic is in direct relation to their gods and the Maji people have no idea why they have been forsaken.

‘The gods died with our magic’

Zelie is surrounded by people that have no magic (kosidan). This includes her father Baba and brother Tzain. Which also means they do not experience the same level of hate/violence that she is herself at risk from. Zelie is surrounded by people yet feels alone in the world.

‘One look at my white hair, and people avoid me like I’m an infectious plaque’

Nailah is a lionaire that Zelie has raised from a cub,
at times she feels Nailah is her only friend.

With taxes being raised to levels of extortion. Zelie and Tzain must leave and head to Lagos to raise some money. Money that will ensure Zelie stays free from the ‘stocks’. The stocks being the Maji forced labour camp, where death is highly likely. On the journey, she reflects upon her memories, from when she was just a little girl of 6yrs old.

‘That was the night things got bad. The night King Saran hung my people for the world to see, declaring war against the Maji or today and tomorrow. The night magic died’

The novel jumps between various points of view, with the most prominent being Zelie. But the other two narratives, give you an insight into life on the other side of this divided society. Amari and Inan are King Saran’s children.

Amari is a royal princess, who tires of her role and constant attention and appeasing in a male dominated society. Her only friend is Binta, her diviner chambermaid and confidante. When Binta is summoned by the king, Amari is consumed by fear. Why would her father summon Binta? What use for a diviner, can her father have?

‘Our female nobility paste on smiles, though I know they whisper about us behind our backs’

Amari sneaks into her father’s offices and becomes aware of a secret not meant for her ears. . .

‘Your highness. The diviners became Maji’ – Commander Kaea

Inan is the youngest captain in history. He is loyal to his father and aware that he is next in line to the throne. He has the same devout beliefs about the Maji people and diviners and like his father would like to see their eradication.
But fate has a surprise for Inan.

‘Gods are nothing without fools to believe in them’ – King saran

After witnessing the spoken secret and death of Binta. Amari becomes enraged. She flees the palace taking with her the scroll.
A scroll that can bring back the magic!

In the city of Lagos the lives of Zelie, Amari and Inan will collide and their futures will change forever. Their core beliefs are challenged in ways they’ve never known before.
Zelie must find her inner strength and on this journey, she becomes an instant hero of mine.

‘We don’t need to fear magic we only need each other’

There are so many powerful themes within this novel. But to include all the details is to simply spoil the magic for others. It is one of the most powerful books, I have read this year and I urge you to buy it. Buy it for the young people, children and teens that you love. Or simply buy it for yourself, for some pure escapism.
5* Genius

‘You crushed us to build your monarchy on the backs of our blood and bone. Your mistake wasn’t keeping us alive. It was thinking we’d never fight back’ – Zelie

Tomi Adeyemi