Author: Paula Brackston
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Copy: ARC courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: “The dead are seldom silent. All that is required for them to be heard is that someone be willing to listen. I have been listening to the dead all my life.”
Lilith is the daughter of the sixth Duke of Radnor. She is one of the most beautiful young women in London and engaged to the city’s most eligible bachelor. She is also a witch.
When her father dies, her hapless brother Freddie takes the title. But it is Lilith, instructed in the art of necromancy, who inherits their father’s role as Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. And it is Lilith who must face the threat of the Sentinels, a powerful group of sorcerers intent on reclaiming the Elixir from the coven’s guardianship for their own dark purposes. Lilith knows the Lazarus creed: secrecy and silence. To abandon either would put both the coven and all she holds dear in grave danger. She has spent her life honoring it, right down to her charming fiancé and fellow witch, Viscount Louis Harcourt.
Until the day she meets Bram, a talented artist who is neither a witch nor a member of her class. With him, she must not be secret and silent. Despite her loyalty to the coven and duty to her family, Lilith cannot keep her life as a witch hidden from the man she loves.
To tell him will risk everything.
Spanning the opulence of Edwardian London and the dark days of World War I, The Midnight Witch is the third novel from New York Times bestselling author Paula Brackston.
Paula Brackston is a new author to me and I admit I’ve never heard of her before. When I received an ARC for The Midnight Witch, I was intrigued and part of that has to do with the gorgeous cover (and the hardback is even more beautiful in person!). I had planned to read Brackston’s backlist starting with The Witch’s Daughter before starting The Midnight Witch so I could become familiar with Brackston’s writing, but decided to delve right in. If you’ve never read Brackston’s books it’s not necessary to do in order to enjoy The Midnight Witch. Brackston does a great job explaining terms such as necromancer and other terms related to the paranormal and being unfamiliar with aspects of the paranormal won’t hinder your reading experience.
We have good character development and we easily got to know everyone pretty well. Our primary character is Lilith and she’s young. With the death of her father she’s inherited a lot of responsibility and shares a secret from those closest to her; she’s a necromancer and now Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven, Keeper of the Great Secret, and Guardian of the Elixir of Life. Lilith is also a member of the British aristocracy and is engaged to marry a fellow witch, but doesn’t expect to actually fall in love with someone else. Then we have Bram who is an artist from Yorkshire trying to make his own way in the world. I won’t go into details regarding Bram because his own personal past was a surprise when all is revealed. I really liked Bram! He was very noble and didn’t push to get involved in Lilith’s life. Overall, I just really liked him. Of course we have to have a villain and let’s just say we aren’t exactly sure what Strickland’s intentions are and Brackston doesn’t come out right away and state them. We have a few secondary characters who play a vital role including Lilith’s friend Charlotte and Lilith’s fiancé and fellow witch Viscount Louis Harcourt.
Narrative is first person with alternating third; first is via Lilith and it makes sense since this is her story and alternating third consists of narrative not involving Lilith directly. I know some readers might get frustrated with the change of narration, but I really liked how it was set up! It was easy to follow and gives readers the opportunity to not only experience Lilith’s immediate world but also those around her. I also enjoyed this because first person only narratives limit the scope of the novel since everything is told to us by the narrator and we have to trust what the narrator is telling us. Here in The Midnight Witch we don’t distrust Lilith and the use of third enhances the reading experience.
Brackston’s The Midnight Witch is a coming of age story with Lilith coming into her own as Head Witch. She’s bound to make mistakes and in many ways she’s a reluctant witch. She did not ask to become one and it’s interesting how her own brother Freddie isn’t one. Lilith’s journey is also a heartbreaking one and I believe we all will associate in some format with her. We’ve all had untried events in our own lives and we’ve learned from these mistakes. Added to the mix is Lilith’s forbidden romance with Bram while being engaged to Louis. While Brackston could have easily given us a love triangle as the conflict for the story, it plays a backdrop. I actually forgot about Lilith and Louis’ engagement until we’re reminded of it. Also, I thought I had things figured out with regards to Strickland and his role, but was totally unprepared for another person’s role. I won’t go into details because it will spoil the story and want you to be surprised as I was.
In the end, I debated with the rating between a three and a four, but decided on a four primarily for the writing itself. I fell in love with Brackston’s prose and while we do have some plot holes, mainly with how Brackston sets up rules with regards to bringing back the dead along with a few other general rules, it is an enjoyable story and you can overlook these holes as you read. While I do wish some of these holes had been explained, I’m okay with not knowing since I’ll just file it away under Lazarus Coven history privy to only Coven members.
Overall, I really enjoyed Paula Brackston’s The Midnight Witch. If you’re looking to try a different genre from what you normally read or enjoy historical fiction with paranormal elements, I highly recommend Paula Brackston’s The Midnight Witch. I can’t wait to read her backlist and I’m hoping Louis gets his own story.
You can read an excerpt of The Midnight Witch here.
I have 2 copies of Paula Brackston’s The Midnight Witch up for grabs courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books. US only & no POB’s. Giveaway ends on Monday, March 31st at Midnight MDT (2 am EDT). Good luck!