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.
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*