Monday, 25 May 2015

Reviewing the evidence - The Witch's Daughter

Title: The Witch's Daughter (US Link)
Author: Paula Brackston
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Series: The Shadow Chronicles

A few starting notes:
The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston
Apparently this is the first volume of the Shadow Chronicles, though it seems that the series continues along a theme rather than with the same characters. Though with this being the first I've read, it's possible I'm wrong.


Bess Hawksmith was happy enough faffing about in the rural West Country in the 1600's. Then everything basically went to hell in a hand-basket. There was death, lots of it, and magic, some of it, and fear, buckets of it.

Eliza Hawksmith was working as a doctor, treating the rich and the poor of Victorian London, until the past caught up with her.

Elise Hawksmith was a nurse on the Western Front. She met a soldier. They were in love. Could it last?

Elizabeth Hawksmith is just settling into a new village when she meets Tegan. Tegan becomes almost like a daughter to her, and Elizabeth finds herself having to protect the girl from things she's too young to understand.

And looming over it all is the shadow of Gideon Masters. A rejected suitor is a dangerous thing - particularly one like Gideon.

Best bits:

I like the historical settings - the images used are vivid and really conjure the essence of the period of time.

The plot is interesting enough to keep you going, and the characters are amiable enough to make you care. Which of course is what you need in any novel.

I also liked the way Elizabeth's diary is used as a frame for the other three stories - it gives an effective structure to the whole thing.

Not so great bits:

There's some pretty gory bits, so if you're not a fan of the violence, blood and guts, beware. There's also some pretty uncomfortable and down-right graphic descriptions of rape, so read responsibly.

This isn't exactly historically-accurate, what with all the witching and all, but I'm pretty sure that the black death/bubonic plague was centred in the 1300/1400s, not the 1600s - though I will admit that there were some localised outbreaks afterwards. Brackston's plague is in 1628; the history nerd in me wishes that at the very least there was some mention of the unusualness of an outbreak at this time.

The narrative has a kind of BBC4 afternoon play vibe - which is all very well and good in its place, but kind of jars with the content in places.


A decent novel with plenty of historical-drama melded with witch-y activity. Enjoyable but a little slow and sometimes off-key in pace and tone, this is most likely to appeal to fans of Alma Katsu's The Taker, or the TV show Forever - although, personally, I think that Forever does a better job at dealing with the themes.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments? I love comments! Talk to me nerdlets!