Witch

Witch

Witch
Finbar Hawkins

Head of Zeus

ISBN 9781838935610

Set in the 17th century, a breathtaking debut, and a potential prize-winner, about the power of women, witchcraft, fury, revenge and the ties that bind us. After witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by witch-hunters, Evey vows to avenge her and track down the killers. Fury burns in her bright and strong. But she has promised her mother that she will keep Dill, her little sister, safe. As the lust for blood and retribution rises to fever pitch, will Evey keep true to the bonds of sisterhood and to the magick that is her destiny? Praise for Witch: 'A story that captures sibling rivalry so perfectly and tells its tale so beautifully I didn't want it to finish' JASBINDER BILAN 'Raw, mystical and beautifully told. A striking debut' KIRSTY APPLEBAUM 'Witch grips you in its spell from first page to last. As fierce, beautiful and thrilling as a bird of prey in flight' JONATHAN STROUD 'A book filled with enchantment, in every sense. Dark, exciting and pacy, Witch brilliantly balances magic and realism' ANTHONY McGOWAN

Librarian's Book choice

Witch is set during the era of the Commonwealth, when Oliver Cromwell's strict Puritan government ruled the country. In superstitious fear, it was common for people to seek out and execute 'witches', often women guilty of nothing more mystical than being female.

Witch, however, accepts the premise of magic from the start. It opens with a dramatic scene in which sisters Evey and Dill witness the violent death of their mother at the hands of a gang of Witchfinders. Evey has long since turned her back on the magical powers shared by her mother and young Dill. She is determined to seek revenge for her mother's murder and sets out to find the men responsible. But magic is never far away.

The book is written in language which sounds authentic to the period, helping to create a historical atmosphere. But the writing also subtly leaks magic into the story throughout and the idea of supernatural bonds between all living things is inherent. It reminded me of The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane - the possibility of summoning a wild creature just by noticing it.

As well as being a great piece of historical fiction, a dramatic quest novel and a spooky fantasy read, Witch explores the difference between justice and revenge, attitudes towards women and the nature of sisterhood.

It is also worth spending some time with the gorgeous cover art, by Edward Bettison. At first glance, the silhouetted figure, with the fire in the foreground, and orange accents looks merely atmospheric, but a closer inspection reveals hidden details which reflect the nature of the magic - and the magic in nature - found in the story.

The descriptions of the people, their homes, and details of their everyday lives, together with the clever language, provide an immersive experience for students of the Stuart period. Those studying religion or feminist themes will also find this a rewarding read.

Witch is suitable for able readers in Y7 or up. Some of the violent scenes might upset sensitive students.

384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Kimberley Lawson, school librarian


Reviews

Witch5/5

Witch

Finbar Hawkins

Review

Witch is set during the era of the Commonwealth, when Oliver Cromwell's strict Puritan government ruled the country. In superstitious fear, it was common for people to seek out and execute 'witches', often women guilty of nothing more mystical than being female.

Witch, however, accepts the premise of magic from the start. It opens with a dramatic scene in which sisters Evey and Dill witness the violent death of their mother at the hands of a gang of Witchfinders. Evey has long since turned her back on the magical powers shared by her mother and young Dill. She is determined to seek revenge for her mother's murder and sets out to find the men responsible. But magic is never far away.

The book is written in language which sounds authentic to the period, helping to create a historical atmosphere. But the writing also subtly leaks magic into the story throughout and the idea of supernatural bonds between all living things is inherent. It reminded me of The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane - the possibility of summoning a wild creature just by noticing it.

As well as being a great piece of historical fiction, a dramatic quest novel and a spooky fantasy read, Witch explores the difference between justice and revenge, attitudes towards women and the nature of sisterhood.

It is also worth spending some time with the gorgeous cover art, by Edward Bettison. At first glance, the silhouetted figure, with the fire in the foreground, and orange accents looks merely atmospheric, but a closer inspection reveals hidden details which reflect the nature of the magic - and the magic in nature - found in the story.

The descriptions of the people, their homes, and details of their everyday lives, together with the clever language, provide an immersive experience for students of the Stuart period. Those studying religion or feminist themes will also find this a rewarding read.

Witch is suitable for able readers in Y7 or up. Some of the violent scenes might upset sensitive students.

384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Kimberley Lawson, school librarian

Reviewed by: Kimberley Lawson


Witch4/5

Witch

Finbar Hawkins

Review

After witnessing the brutal murder of their mother by witch hunters, Evey and her sister Dell are doomed. The witch hunters know they were watching and they are determined to seek them out. Evey's anger is strong and she vows to avenge her and kill the men that took her mother's life away. She takes Dill to her aunt's coven and leaves her behind as she believes that Dill will be in her way; as she leaves, she snatches her mother's scrying stone from Dill's hand, ignoring the fact that this will make the stone angry. Evey's jealousy towards her sister and her lust for retribution make her blind.

She learns that the witch trials are to begin in town and this is where she will meet these men again, and where she will be able to make them suffer. However, due to Evey's impulsive and often reckless behaviour, mistakes are made along the way and things do not go as she planned! She is also thrown by the fact that one person she trusts has betrayed her. Will she be able to avenge her mother without losing Dill forever?

This debut novel is set in 17th Century England, where superstition runs high and the old, lonely women and children of these times were blamed for all that went wrong. The era has been well researched and the author has made extra attempts to make his story even more atmospheric by using the language of the Stuart period.

Witch is a 360 page breathtaking story which is suitable for the 12+ reader. It contains scenes of abuse, death and torture but thankfully not in too much depth. This is a great book for book clubs and intervention groups as there are many opportunities for further reading and discussion.

I do need to make you aware that this isn't a sweet, Disney-style take on witches. The opening pages are brutal, they grab the reader's attention and the book doesn't let go until the very end. If you enjoy stories filled with dark magic, beautiful illustrations and chapters that are quick-paced, then this is a must read for you. I'm sure you will not be disappointed.

A perfect book for the autumn nights, especially Halloween!

384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Linda Brown, school librarian

Reviewed by: Linda brown


Witch4/5

Witch

Finbar Hawkins

Review

Evey and her little sister have just witnessed the horrific murder of their mother, a suspected witch, by a band of men. Fleeing for their lives and hunted, they take refuge in the forest and search for the coven, their mother's last instruction ringing in Evey's ears.

Once safe, Evey strikes out on her own, set on revenge and justice for her mother. Aided by a young titled woman she starts to unravel the true events and cause of her mother's death and also realise the nature of her own magical talents.

From the start this book is captivating, frightening and haunting in equal measures. Evey's character is consumed by jealousy: she perceives her sister Dill to be the favourite and have magical talent far surpassing her own. Sibling rivalry is something that many will understand and it is handled well. I found the story took an unexpected turn and soon got used to the unusual language used, it suited the atmosphere of the book perfectly.

The tale is harsh at times and graphic, making me 'hide my eyes' like I might during a horror movie. Yet amongst this is beautiful description putting the reader within the forest and town. A scene near the end is so imaginative you can almost 'hear' the horror unfolding.

Set in a time period when women were feared for their healing ways and expected to revere men, the story focuses on strong female leads and highlights the downfalls of a brutal patriarchal society. It is an imaginative debut and cries out for a sequel. Highly recommended

384 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Lorraine Ansell, school librarian

Reviewed by: Lorraine Ansell