September 24, 2013

Review: Witchstruck

When I saw this in the Netgalley catalog, I knew I had to read it—Elizabethan England AND witches?

I. Am. In. 

love this cover
Title: ‘Witchstruck’
Author: Victoria Lamb
Pages: 320 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Available: NOW at your local bookstore and library
Source: requested from Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

If she sink, she be no witch and shall be drowned. If she float, she be a witch and must be hanged.

Meg Lytton has always known she is different; that she bears a dark and powerful gift. But in 1554 England, in service at Woodstock Palace to the banished Tudor princess Elizabeth, it has never been more dangerous to practice witchcraft. Meg knows she must guard her secret carefully from the many suspicious eyes watching over the princess and her companions. One wrong move could mean her life, and the life of Elizabeth, rightful heir to the English throne. With witch finder Marcus Dent determined to have Meg's hand in marriage, and Meg's own family conspiring against the English queen, there isn't a single person Meg can trust. Certainly not the enigmatic young Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, despite her undeniable feelings. But when all the world turns against her, Meg must open her heart to a dangerous choice. The Secret Circle meets The Other Boleyn Girl in Witchstruck, the first book of the magical Tudor Witch trilogy

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book. From the moment Meg appears on the page until the very end, Lamb had me hooked.

Elizabeth isn’t yet queen. She is under house arrest by order of her sister, and she has a witch living under her roof. A dangerous combination, especially since Lady Elizabeth is aware of Meg’s special “talent.” But can Elizabeth’s pull save Meg from the hands of witch finder Dent, a man who wants Meg for his wife?

The novel does contain an element of romance, sans Dent, but it is not the focus of the story. The focus is on friendship and how to stay true to one’s self when there are others who believe that witches should not live. This is not just a story of witch hunting, it is also a story of understanding the world Meg is living in, pre-Elizabethan England.

Meg is a fantastic character, even if being a “witch” is a death sentence. She has a good head on her shoulders, wanting to please those around her, especially Lady Elizabeth, but also wanting to be able to practice her craft without fear. She is young, eager, and ready to take on the world. This includes witch finder Marcus Dent, whose agenda seems to extend beyond simply wanting to find “witches.” He wants Meg for his wife, and she is not having it. This is brave because in this time, females did not object to marriage. They did as they were instructed, period. Lamb does not give readers a sparkplug with Meg but a firecracker who is looking to live her life—on her terms.

While Lady Elizabeth is in the novel, she is not the star. Nor does she steal the spotlight. It is held strong by Meg. What Elizabeth does bring to the story is suspense. It is dangerous for her to have Meg in her service. An accusation of witchcraft could lead Elizabeth to her death, but she stands tall and strong, and loyal.

I loved Meg and Elizabeth on the page. The two took quite a few chances with Meg’s fortune telling, but their on-page chemistry went beyond Lady and maid. It was a blooming friendship filled with trust, an allegiance of the ultimate kind. Lady Elizabeth needs as many people in her corner as she can, and so does Meg.

As a whole, I loved the plot and pacing of the novel. The plot is carefully maneuvered with political intrigue mixed with a bit of magic and a sprinkling of romance, giving the novel a smooth feel while reading. Does that make sense? It did not feel choppy and overly historical (which can happen in historical fiction) but was more of a tale of friendship, fear, and loyalty.

I think what I really enjoyed was that the book combined two elements that I really enjoy reading: Lady Elizabeth and witchcraft—both were treacherous for the time for very different reasons. Lamb weaved the two together seamlessly.

I recommend this novel to readers of historical fiction, witchy reads, and all things Queen Elizabeth I.

What historical novel have you read and enjoyed lately?

Comment below and let’s talk about books.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

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