by Paula Brackston
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review!
Published: 3rd December 2015
Title: The Silver Witch
Author: Paula Brackston
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
Found: via netgalley
Rating: 3 voodoos
“The magic was bequeathed me by my mother, as she had received her own from my grandmother. All of us born to dwell in the moonlight, marked with the silver eyes and milk white hair of our kind.”
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 other’s, 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.
This is my first Paula Brackston book and I found it well written and well researched. Paula Brackston has a very beautiful and descriptive writing style. At first, I found this very difficult to get used to because I’m not used to such in depth and detailed descriptions, but before long I got into the rhythm of it and found it very poetic. It was very easy to imagine everything exactly as, I presume, Paula Brackston wanted us to, especially the physical appearances of all the characters.
The Silver Witch is written with two narrative voices. The first is Tilda, a modern day widow who lives alone in a Welsh village and has become a bit of a recluse because of her grief. And the second is Seren who is a Witch or Seer from the same village but from the 10th Century. These two characters have more in common than their albino appearance and geographical location but this is only slowly revealed to us as the story progresses.
I found Tilda’s monotonous life a little boring even with all the gorgeous descriptions of the surrounding countryside. I know we were supposed to observe how she slowly started to let her grief go and find a new life in this Welsh village but I found my patience lagging and I had to really push myself not to skip a head to the Seren chapters, which I enjoyed a lot more. The introduction of Thistle and Dylan was greatly need. I have a greyhound myself, so I could totally imagine Thistle and I think Paula Brackston has captured a sight hounds personality perfectly! Dylan was interesting and pulled Tilda out of herself but other than that was just a pleasing love interest.
I enjoyed Seren’s point of view a lot more than Tilda’s but I’m not sure whether this was because Seren’s parts were written in 1st person (Tilda’s was in 3rd person) or whether it was because I found Seren’s situation and life much more interesting. Either way I found myself eager for those chapters and kind of wish there had been more.
I was a little disappointed with the ending because I found it rather predictable. I had guessed most of the dramatic twists by about 50%. But I was glad that it ended the way I wanted it too. Overall, I enjoyed The Silver Witch but I didn’t love it and I can put this down to the slow pace and the simple plot. I would still recommend this book, but to readers that like beautiful prose and Celtic history rather than action packed magical mystery novels like me.