Series: Witch Child, Book One
Published: Originally: 2000
This Edition: 6th July 2009
Number of Pages: 256
Genre: Historical, Magic, Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, Fantasy, Children-YA Crossover
Recommended Age: 11+
Contains: Nothing Unsuitable
Shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize
Pages from a journal are loosely sewn into a quilt. A quilt that lies undisturbed for more than three hundred years until it is carefully taken apart for cleaning and out of its folds falls a powerful and moving story. The story of Mary – granddaughter of a witch.
A taunt, exciting novel, Witch Child holds the reader gripped throughout.
“I am Mary. I am a witch.”
Witch Child tells the story of a girl named Mary, whose grandmother was hanged for being a witch. She had to leave, before the townspeople turned on her as well. And so she was taken away from the only home she’s know by a mysterious woman she’s never met, Mary is sent to America for her own safety. But life aboard a ship of Puritans heading to the New World is just as dangerous as it was back home in England – maybe more so. Can she keep her secret? Or will she be discovered, and killed just as her grandmother was?
I was captivated, and literally devoured Witch Child. It was an amazing, powerful story, and it was insanely addictive.
Told from Mary’s point of view, it’s written in the form of a diary that was found sewn into the seams of a quilt. As I read, I felt like I had travelled back to the 1600s, and there were loads of little details that just made the history feel alive.
Mary was a brilliant character, strong and brave. I loved her spirit, and found myself feeling everything she felt. Her voice was unique, and her emotions intense: she was an entirely believable character.
The supporting characters were brilliant as well, and all very real. Jaybird, the Native American Indian boy; Martha, the Puritan who took Mary in; Reverend Johnson, the one who believes he’s a prophet of God, who I believe is really the evil one. There were so many amazing characters, and they all went together to form a brilliant, realistic world.
The thing I liked most about this book was the history behind it. The witch trials both fascinate and horrify me, ever since I learnt about them at the very beginning of high school. It amazes me how narrow minded people can be, and how healers can be seen as “spawn of the Devil”. Did you know that at least 250,000 women were killed, and in some villages were left with no women at all? (I’d just like to point out that I didn’t actually get that from the book, it’s just a weird piece of information that I’ve remembered, for some reason or another.) And the Native American Indian history and beliefs intrigued me too: how the settlers forced them out, their ideas on spirits, the way they live. I wouldn’t have thought that the two would go together so well, but they did, and I loved the way they did.
The only downside: the concept of magic and witchcraft was left unclear. Mary hinted at visions, controlling storms and voodoo-like dolls, but nothing was confirmed... Unless that’s what Celia Rees meant for it to be like... to make you think, to wonder...
Overall, Witch Child was a brilliantly written story with authentic, unique characters and an amazing plot. It was intense, addictive and ended with a horrible cliffhanger. Even though it’s written for 11+, I think everyone can enjoy the history in it!
Finally, a simple question:
Do you believe in magic?
4 Out of 5
4 Out of 5
Read this book if you liked:
Sovay or Pirates! by Celia Rees
The Merrybegot by Julie Hearn (I Recommed This One: Another Witch-Trials Book)
Challenges It's Taking Part In: