Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Witch Child (Witch Child #1) by Celia Rees

Witch Child is a YA historical fiction novel with a fantasy twist. In England, 1659, teen Mary Newbury's grandmother is hung for being a witch. Mary barely escapes her grandmother's fate and hops aboard a ship for America- only to land in Salem, Massachusetts and become targeted by the Puritans. As Mary tries to blend in and become "normal", she is faced by the fact that she actually may be a true witch.

The format to make Witch Child a diary was very clever. As the writing felt so true and innocent, I was shocked to find out after googling that Mary Newbury actually did not exist. The air of mystery surrounding her was magnificent, and I love the uncertainty behind whether or not she is actually a witch. Some of the instances in which she has "powers" seem to be hasty judgements on the part of the townspeople- but then towards the end of the book I started to really believe that she does truly have magical powers. 

Something else I loved was the whole topic of the Witch Trials themselves. I enjoyed how clearly this book showcased some of the cruel attitudes of society and their stereotypes regarding outsiders. Those days were no stranger to prejudice and discrimination, and I loved those themes. There were certainly some creepy scenes near the end, and I loved the paranormal climax! The author has major talent in building suspense.

However, I did have some issues with Witch Child. In many instances the plot felt weak and at an almost boring standstill. Many themes were slightly underdeveloped. It was also difficult understand at times, and near the end, almost too bizarre. While I did enjoy the mystery of whether or not Mary is written to have powers, it made the text slightly confusing as the author's note at the end and introduction made it seem nonfiction. I think Rees could have made what genre Witch Child is more clearly.

Despite some issues, I recommend this book and I will try to read the sequel, Sorceress 

Title: Witch Child
Author: Celia Rees
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 240
Series: Yes, Book 1 of 2
Rating: 4 Stars

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