Literary Friday: The Witch's Daughter

Synopsis according to GoodReads:
"My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, and my age is three hundred and eighty-four years. Each new settlement asks for a new journal, and so this Book of Shadows begins…

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 at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn’t know she had and making her immortal. She couldn't have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers' market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories--and demons—long thought forgotten.

The Witch's Daughter is part historical fiction, part contemporary adventure. With a dash of romance. I would say it tackled a large over-arcing concept well, but sacrificed some key character development in the process.

I liked Elizabeth, and each of the forays into her past was compelling (for me, the WWI exploit was the most vivid). My primary beef with the hurried characterizations is that we got a chunk of it from when she was young, but then the rest of the time we only see her as a benign force for good who is not nearly as paranoid as she ought to be. 

That, and the fact that she's a unreliable narrator (do we actually see Gideon do harmful or evil things? No. Do we see Elizabeth never ever use magic for anything other than healing and escape? No. Both of these make me suspect our narrator isn't telling the whole truth.)

Characterization aside, as an adventure it sings along quite nicely. And it has some nice truths peppered into the fantastical elements of witchcraft. Told, in some parts, very viscerally, but a relatively quick read, I recommend it for fans of adventure with a dash of history, romance with a dash of danger, magic and witches (the non-Hollywood, crunchy Earth Mother sort), and fans of light chick lit.

2014 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge

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