Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: The Winter Witch

The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston has been on my wishlist for awhile now, mostly because I was attracted to both the cover and the teaser.  I decided to read it this weekend while on a mini, two day vacation.  While I wasn't in love with the story, I did enjoy it for the most part.

Synopsis from Amazon:
In her small early nineteenth century Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana.   She is small and quick and pretty enough to attract a suitor, but there are things that set her apart from other girls. Though her mind is sharp she has not spoken since she was a young girl. Her silence is a mystery, as well as her magic—the household objects that seem to move at her command, the bad luck that visits those who do her ill.  Concerned for her safety, her mother is anxious to see Morgana married, and Cai Jenkins, the widowed drover from the far hills who knows nothing of the rumors that swirl around her, seems the best choice.
            After her wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving her mother, and wary of this man, whom she does not know, and who will take her away to begin a new life.  But she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the wild mountains that surround it. Here, where frail humans are at the mercy of the elements, she thrives, her wild nature and her magic blossoming. Cai works to understand the beautiful, half-tamed creature he has chosen for a bride, and slowly, he begins to win Morgana’s affections.  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 man, and herself from all comers, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything in this beautifully written, enchanting novel.
The point of view alternates with each chapter from Cai to Morgana and this took a bit of getting used to but I think it really worked for the story.  Since Morgana does not speak in the story, it gives the reader an avenue in which to experience each character's inner thinking and feelings as the plot progresses.  I thought it was refreshing to see Cai's side of the story as the two spent their first weeks together.  I also really liked the setting.  The early 19th century time period, where fear of witchcraft still existed and majority rules seemed to be the primary source of law.  The description of the farm that is Cai's home is beautiful, with sprawling hills and meadows, the well, the parlor and hearth, the ponies and cattle. Just gorgeous.

I enjoy books that employ witchcraft as a plot source and this story gave me the perfect amount of paranormal.  My only complaint is that there were parts of the story where I was a bit bored.  I found myself skimming on a few occasions. I wish there was a bit more of Morgana experimenting with her power as she realized what she could accomplish.  Mrs. Jones, who was a delightful addition as Cai's aunt/housekeeper, was also a hedgewitch and a mentor to Morgana and we don't get to know her well enough.  On the positive side, when Morgana finally decides she has had enough and begins to fight back against the people who are accusing her of evil, I was unable to put the book down until the end.  It was at this point that the pace picked up and with it, the story became much more interesting.

The relationship between Cai and Morgana was well portrayed.  Cai needed a wife to fill the requirements of his job and he arranged his marriage to Morgana.  She was young, she didn't speak, and he took her away from everything she knew.  They didn't fall in love immediately and getting used to living together was both frustrating and confusing for both.  This was a realistic view, in my opinion, of how the beginnings of an arranged marriage would be, minus the witchcraft of course.  Their affection for one another blossomed from shared interests, teamwork, and time spent caring for each other's needs.

So, I would probably give this book about three and a half stars instead of four but only because of the slow parts.  It was a good read and if you enjoy paranormal romance, you will most likely enjoy it as well.  Happy reading!


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