Anne Bonny #BookReview The Magpie Tree by @K_Stansfield 5* #HistoricalFiction #Cornwall #Witches #MissingChild #NewRelease @AllisonandBusby 1844 Jamaica Inn, Witches, gossip and a missing child!

The Magpie Tree by Katherine Stansfield
Cornish Mysteries #2

Review copy

Jamaica Inn, 1844: the talk is of witches. A boy has vanished in the woods of Trethevy on the North Cornish coast, and a reward is offered for his return. Shilly has had enough of such dark doings, but her new companion, the woman who calls herself Anna Drake, insists they investigate. Anna wants to open a detective agency, and the reward would fund it. They soon learn of a mysterious pair of strangers who have likely taken the boy, and of Saint Nectan who, legend has it, kept safe the people of the woods. As Shilly and Anna seek the missing child, the case takes another turn – murder. Something is stirring in the woods and old sins have come home to roost.

My Review:

1844 Jamaica Inn, Witches, gossip and a missing child!

‘The day I went to the Jamaica Inn was the day I saw a man hanged’

Right from the opening line, the author sets the scene and the era perfectly. Rumours of local witches and their involvement in a missing child case are rife. A community in fear and two sleuths are on the case. . . .

Shilly and Anna Drake have a desire to set up their own detective agency. But with a lack of funds to do so, their plans haven’t come to fruition. That is until they hear Sir Vivian Orton has offered a reward in the case of the missing child. The women set of on a journey to Trethevy, unaware of what awaits.

Along the journey the women debate the subject of witches, the danger it poses in the persecution of women. They know this case will be far from easy. Small town gossip spreads and has the whole community quickly gripped in fear.

Sir Vivian Orton’s wife (Lady phoebe) is heavily pregnant and this impedes their investigation, they are unable to question her. The missing boy, Paul Hakell also has a twin named Peter. The ladies begin their efforts by organising a search of the local tunnels and mineshafts. Then they are made aware of the local legend of Saint Nectan, protector of children!

Shilly and Anna are an unusual pairing, they are eccentric yet sensible. They each have very different personalities, but they complement each other very well. As the plot unravels their relationship progresses and you have a greater understanding of who they are and the lives that shaped them.

Local man, Simon Proctor claims to have seen the missing boy, near the location of a cottage. A cottage that has two sisters in residence. The locals remark that they often conversate in the ‘devils language’. Which the women quickly recognise as German. It is clear to see, how a miscommunication, in a small-minded community. Can grow into a fear mongering rumour that spreads.
The women have their work cut out in the small village of Trethevy.

Shillly and Anna agree to approach the sisters (with caution) and learn more about who they are and where they come from.
What they learn, will slowly help them unravel the case.

I really enjoyed the prose of this novel, it reminded me of the novel, Himself by Jess Kidd. With its odd characters and similar writing style. Every new development in the case adds more mystery and intrigue. The women quickly learn they can’t trust anyone around them and this makes for a great suspenseful read!

The novel has a very clever ending that reads right up to the very last page.
I look forward to future novels in the series. 5*

Katherine Stansfield

#1 in the Cornish Mysteries series:
Falling Creatures by Katherine Stansfield

1844. A brutal murder rocks Victorian Cornwall. In a place where the dead lie uneasy in their graves, to find a murderer a young woman must first learn who she can trust.

I had loved her, though she was cruel, though she was sly. She and I were just as the rest of the world – creatures falling, creatures failing.

Cornwall, 1844. On a lonely moorland farm not far from Jamaica Inn, farmhand Shilly finds love in the arms of Charlotte Dymond. But Charlotte has many secrets, possessing powers that cause both good and ill. When she’s found on the moor with her throat cut, Shilly is determined to find out who is responsible, and so is the stranger calling himself Mr Williams who asks for Shilly’s help. Mr Williams has secrets too, and Shilly is thrown into the bewildering new world of modern detection.

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

New release/Debut: The Witch Finder’s Sister by Beth Underdown 4*

This review is shorter than I would like, I read & reviewed the novel many months ago before I started my blog in January. However it is a very worthy read!


The Witch Finder’s Sister by Beth Underdown

The blurb:

‘The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…’
1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.
But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

Based on the true story of the man known as the Witchfinder General, this exquisitely rendered novel transports you to a time and place almost unimaginable, where survival might mean betraying those closest to you, and danger lurks outside every door.

My review:

A historical novel of witchcraft, mystery & suspicion!
I grew up in Lancashire where you could see Pendle hill from my Granma’s house. As children she would fill our heads with tales of the Pendle witches. This novel reminded me very much of those stories,
The novel is fundamentally a story of suspicion, when the fear of being named as a witch would ultimately be a death sentence. The novel is written very well & the characters have huge appeal to the readers, even the not so nice ones. 4*

Congratulations to the author on it’s release today!

*I received an Ebook copy via netgalley in return for an honest review.