Thursday, October 28, 2010

Review of Witch Child

Mary's grandmother is executed for witchcraft, and Mary is forced to leave her home to avoid the same fate. At first she flees to the English countryside, but when the atmosphere of superstition and suspicion becomes all consuming she leaves on a boat for America in the hope that she can start over and forget her past. But during the journey, she realizes that the past is not so easy to escape.
[from Goodreads]

Rating:   2.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Paranormal historical readers
High point: Strong writing
Low point:  Didn't engage me
Reader maturity:  13+

Witch Child follows Mary Newbury as she flees England's wild witch hunts, only to fall into the hands of witch hunters even more zealous and unrestrained in the early American wilderness.

Though I'm usually a fan of historicals (especially when combined with a hint of the paranormal), Witch Child just didn't light the spark of imagination in me. I don't know if I wasn't in the proper mood for a historical or what, but...something was missing. I don't want to dissuade you from trying it out, though, because I feel certain that it's got strong writing and an interesting tale.

In retrospect, I wonder if my tastes have been spoiled by too many witch trial novels when I was younger. Since the ending could have gone one of two ways, I already had an idea where the book was going. Perhaps the anticipation of the known was too much for the hints of danger lurking in the pages.

Whatever the problem, I was more interested in Mary's mother, back in England, than I was with the folks of Beulah. I also wondered, time and again, why Mary did not leave her situation and return to Salem. It seemed that she could have done so and avoided many of the events in the novel. Of course, then where would the story be, right?

Regardless of my lack of excitement for Witch Child, I believe Celia Rees is a good writer, and I'm interested in trying out some of her other work, even if I can't heartily get behind this one.

Title:  Witch Child
Author:  Celia Rees
Genre:   Fiction - Historical
Year:   2002
Book Source:  Purchased


  1. I love honest reviews! Thanks for this one. :-)

  2. To bad this sounded like it had potential but your right it could only really go two ways... Still great review!

  3. Hi, I'm Celia Rees, writer of Witch Child. Sorry you didn't like it but we authors can't please all of the readers all of the time. As for your main criticism, I would have thought that it was pretty obvious why Mary could not return to Salem, given the distances involved and the difficulties of travelling alone at this time - especially for a 13 year old girl. Also, the threat against her is slow to build. When she IS directly threatened and openly accused she, er, runs away. Now, she might head for Salem but she might be thinking that not a lot of help is likely to be forthcoming from that community, either. I'm glad you think I'm a good writer but sorry that your review put off a potential reader. Not everyone shares your view and that seems a shame. I hope that you do try some of my other books and like them more than you did this one.