Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Book Review: The Winter Witch

The Winter WitchAuthor: Paula Brackston
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Fledgling witch Morgana must defend her love, her home, and her life in this enthralling tale perfect for fans of Discovery of Witches

In her small Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana. She has never spoken, and her silence as well as the magic she can't quite control make her a mystery. Concerned for her safety, her mother quickly arranges a marriage with Cai Bevan, the widower from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumours that swirl around her. After their wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving, but she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the rugged mountains that surround it, while slowly Cai himself begins to win her heart. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana, even at the expense of those closest to her. Forced to defend her home, her love, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.

Paula Brackston's debut novel, The Witch's Daughter, was the little book that could—with a captivating story, remarkable heroine, and eye-catching package, it has now netted over 40,000 copies in all formats. Now Paula returns with The Winter Witch, another enchanting tale of love and magic, featuring her signature blend of gorgeous writing, a fabulous and intriguing historical backdrop, and a headstrong and relatable heroine readers will cheer for.

“For a while I endured his jibs and sneers without response. It was not, let it be said, the first time I had encountered such treatment. People fear what they do not understand, and that fear can make brutes of them. Ifor, though, had not the wit to be frightened. Better for him if he had. Each day he prodded and poked and jested at my expense. Each day he won an inch more ground in his battle for position in the class. And each day my patience grew thinner.” – Hardback Copy pg. 16

“For a second I think he will do it; will step forward, sweep me off my feet, and transport me across the threshold as tradition dictates. But he does not. What am I to make of his reluctance to hold me? Can it be that he does not see me as a wife in all senses? Am I merely a necessity, then? A requirement of his statues as head drover? Is that to be my purpose in life and no more? I might not want his attentions forced upon me, but that does not mean I wish to exist in some manner of limbo, neither maid nor mistress. What can his intentions for me be?” – Hardback Copy pg. 24

“My mother’s entreaties come into my head. Do not be willful, Morgana. You must do as your husband wishes. Must I? Must I stay in this pointlessly big house pretending I care to cook while he walks the hills? I tilt my head a little to one side, asking. Understanding lifts his features.” – Hardback Copy pg. 26

“Morgana has bitten deep and drawn blood. He clutches at his wounded hand, shocked by what she has done and appalled at his own behavior. Never in his life before has he struck a woman. She leaps from the bed and stands, her back to the wall, fists clenched, defiant even now. The pain in his hand has a sobering effect on Cai, so that he becomes acutely aware of how badly he has behaved, and how much damage he may have done to his delicate relationship with Morgana.” – Hardback Copy pg. 117

This is the story of a Welsh Witch named Morgana and her recent arranged marriage to a man named Cai Jenkins. Morgana’s mother has decided that it would be in Morgana’s best interest to marry Cai and to remain a faithful wife for him for the rest of her days. Morgana may not clearly understand her mother’s intentions but Morgana does not oppose. Morgana is a very unique character and seems very closed off to the outside world, mainly because for most of her life she has not spoken. This story was nothing like what I thought it would be. This is a more of a love story than anything else, where as I somewhat thought it might be more fantasy and mystery.
At the beginning of the story readers learn that Morgana does not care much for Cai, and to be honest I was rather bored by her character. I knew that Morgana had not spoken since she was a small child and I was wondering how we were going to see Morgana interact with others and began hoping that we were not meant to solely rely on her inner thoughts. Her relationship with Cai does progress and honestly Cai was my favorite character because of his warmth and openness towards Morgana. I do not want to giveaway important plot points but I will say that Cai makes a world of difference in Morgana and that this is not your average love story.
Once Morgana comes out of her shell and opens up to Cai and a woman of the town who helps her unlock her magical abilities, things start to speed up and the storytelling becomes more and more intriguing. Morgana’s magical innateness intrigued me just as much as the vivid descriptions of the Welsh countryside. Once the magic starts to unveil itself I was really indebted to this story and I loved reading about the villain, even though it becomes obvious pretty early into the story whom that might be. As Morgana begins to find herself and her magic she easily became someone I could relate to. She just needed someone to open up her heart and her mind.
This book is for fans of magical fantasy, but I would say more so fans of a naïve heroine who slowly comes into her own with the help of comfort, nurturing, and heartwarming romance. Not at all how I thought I would describe this book, but entirely true.
***A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in return for my honest, unbiased review***

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