The Witch’s Daughter
“In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate: the Warlock Gideon Masters. Secluded at his cottage, Gideon instructs Bess, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had. She could not have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.”
I’ve had The Witch’s Daughter on my Kobo device for over a year, sitting by until I finally had time to read it. Story of my life, right? A pile of books sitting waiting to be read for years before I can get around to it. I wish I could have read this one sooner. It was terrific!
The story surrounds Elizabeth Hawksmith, and the centuries of her life. From the 1600’s when she first becomes a witch and onward to the present. Close to four hundred years. We start in the present and we learn about Elizabeth at the beginning through journal entries. She has moved to a new location and prepares her cottage for all the needs a witch like her requires. Shrubs, herb garden, as well as making pacts with the wildlife to not disturb her supplies.
It’s all quiet interesting but the story doesn’t pick up until she meets a young girl named Teagan. Another new resident in the neighbourhood, she is lonely, without friends and has an absent mother. Surprisingly she is not frightened off by Elizabeth’s rough attitude and becomes absorbed in her hand-made creams and ointments. Elizabeth finds herself a friend, and she hopes that maybe she could be an apprentice. Over the course of the book she tells bits and pieces of her life story to Teagan. First to appease the girl’s never-ending questions about witchcraft, then for her own safety when she discovers the warlock Gideon Masters has found her location.
What I found interning and different with this book is how it switches from first person to third person. The story is in first person through the journal entries as Elizabeth talks about her current tasks and interactions with Teagan. Then, when Elizabeth recounts parts of her past, it is changed to third person. At first it was awkward, but I got used to it and accepted the changes when it happened. By the last (third) story of her past, it was written in first person like all the journal entries, or as one would tell a story of their past. It worked because it was the final story and Elizabeth had just revealed to Teagan that the previous stories weren’t her ancestors but herself, and revealed her true age.
The Witch’s Daughter has done a good job moving us from present to past and back again, and describing different centuries without losing the audience. I get excited about that as I have a character of my own who is centuries old and I struggle on how to explore bits of her past and future. This has given me a great inspiration towards that but more I really liked the way witches are portrayed, not evil or ugly as the stereotype can be but of a girl who made a choice and had to life with it and survive through very harsh times.
To anyone who has an interest in the occult, historical fiction and magic – I recommend this book. A first of a series, I am intrigued to read the rest of the books and learn more about the world and lives Paula Brackston has created.