Author: Paula Brackston
Genre: Historical Fiction
My Copy: ARC courtesy of St. Martin's Press
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: A year after her husband’s sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat’s death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she’s near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.
On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.
In her own time, Tilda’s grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake’s ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each others, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren’s prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more.
I got the opportunity to review Paula Brackston’s The Midnight Witch last year and I really enjoyed her writing. When the chance came to review The Silver Witch, I couldn’t pass up the chance! Brackston’s easily become one of my favorite new authors. And before I talk about the book, let’s take a moment to admire the cover! It’s beautiful and trust me, in person the colors are just lovely! This is definitely one book you’ll want to add to your collection based on the cover alone.
We have great characterization! Tilda Fordwells is a widow who lives in Wales and decides to live in the house her and husband had planned on living in. Immediately she begins to have odd experiences. She can’t explain them but at the same time she’s not really interested in knowing what’s behind the events. Then we have Seren who is a shaman and seer to Prince Brynach. It’s obvious the Prince trusts her and she struggles with her feelings for the man she knows Brynach to be and what society thinks of her. You’ll really like both women and I think it’s easy to associate with either of them. We have a few secondary characters that play a vital role including a retired professor and his nephew. The real scene stealer though is, Thistle, the dog she rescues and heals.
Narrative is told via first and third person. Seren’s narrative is first person and it makes sense since this is her tale. As I mentioned, she’s a shaman and has a vision of someone wanting to harm the Prince and through her narrative we get to experience her world. Tilda’s narrative felt rather detached and I don’t know if it’s because it was in third person or I just enjoyed Seren’s voice. I typically enjoy third person narratives because they offer so much more information and while Brackston is detailed and doesn’t leave anything out, I just felt more comfortable with Seren’s voice.
What I really enjoyed about The Silver Witch were the detailed descriptions Brackston uses. From Tilda’s first vision of people in a boat to Seren’s house, it’s easy to imagine everything happening as if you’re watching a film. I also liked the pieces of history that was intertwined throughout the novel and I liked that Tilda was interested in knowing more about the area instead of brushing it all off. It’s always a treat to read how characters are related and in The Silver Witch, I enjoyed how the past is present in the future. I fell in love with her use of prose in The Midnight Witch and here it’s no different. I don’t want to spoil the book, but I know a few people can’t stand reading books that contain any sort of cheating…there an instance in The Silver Witch, but I don’t think you’ll walk away upset. I believe the circumstances surrounding the relationship is justified and if you’re really curious to the extent, feel free to ask and tell you.
I debated with the rating between a four and five and I decided on a four based one particular reason. Trust me, it feels as if I’m cheating Brackston out of star just because of this, but I wanted to read more about Seren and Prince Brynach. I felt their story really was at the heart of the novel and a few times, I thought of skipping the Tilda sections just so I could focus on these two. I didn’t and while I did enjoy how Brackston lays out the story, don’t be surprised if you find yourself longing for one narrative over the other.
Overall, Paula Brackston’s The Silver Witch is spellbinding! It does start off slow, but it easily picks up and before you know it, the story is over. If you’re a fan of historical fiction or are looking for a new author or genre to try, I highly recommend Brackston’s The Silver Witch.
I have a copy of Paula Brackston’s The Silver Witch up for grabs courtesy of Thomas Dunne Books. US only & no POB’s. Any incomplete task will be disqualified (therefore don’t say you completed a section when you didn’t. 😉 ) Giveaway ends on Saturday, April 25th at Midnight MDT (2 am EDT). Good luck!
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