Thursday, 6 September 2012

Review: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

Huge thanks to Random House for sending me a copy to review

Meg Lytton has always known of her dark and powerful gift. Raised a student of the old magick by her Aunt Jane, casting the circle to see visions of the future and concocting spells from herbs and bones has always been as natural to Meg as breathing. But there has never been a more dangerous time to practise the craft, for it is 1554, and the sentence for any woman branded a witch is hanging, or burning at the stake.
Sent to the ruined, isolated palace of Woodstock to serve the disgraced Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and half-sister of Queen Mary, Meg discovers her skills are of interest to the outcast princess, who is desperate to know if she will ever claim the throne. But Meg's existence becomes more dangerous every day, with the constant threat of exposure by the ruthless witchfinder Marcus Dent, and the arrival of a young Spanish priest, Alejandro de Castillo, to whom Meg is irresistibly drawn - despite their very different attitudes to her secret.

When I first heard about ‘Witchstruck’ I was incredibly excited – witches in the time of Mary with some Princess Elizabeth thrown in for good measure? I was sold. It sounded exactly the type of book I’d love. Based in history but with some fantastical elements that would give it a fresh new life of its own.

Unfortunately it didn’t quite manage to live up to my expectations. It’s taken me quite some time to think about what it was that didn’t work for me, and I can’t put my finger on it. I think it mostly came down to Meg, the heroine who should have pulled me straight into the story. I never really connected with her, she remained flat and a little too dull for me to truly engage with. I expected fire and spirit and ended up a heroine that I didn’t really root for in a plot where very little seemed to happen.

I think it also came down to the portrayal of witchcraft which never really lived up to my expectations based on the blurb. Very little magic really comes out to play during the book and I guess I was expecting more, or for it to play a bigger part. This is just my own perceptions but I felt that for me personally, the witchcraft element was not strong enough for a story where that is supposed to be one of the main elements.

I’ve already touched on the plot, it felt quite disjointed and nothing really drew it along enough to set the pace. There were lots of almost happenings and moments where it looked like it was about to really take off, but nothing really lived up to it. The romance again was disjointed and I wasn’t entirely convinced by it, they seemed to have very little in common and it seemed too flat to really inspire the romance and passion I would have expected.

If you’re looking for a young adult tale set in Tudor times that touches on the time when Mary was Queen and Elizabeth completely at her mercy then this is a great book full of atmosphere and details of the time. However if you’re looking for a tale of witchcraft then it all depends on what sort of witchcraft tale you’re after… For some people this will more than cover the bases and be a fantastic book. For others, like myself, it will be lacking something undefinable which means that it stays firmly in the good book category and doesn’t soar into the fantastic. 

1 comment:

  1. Oh I'm really sorry that this one didn't live up to expectations for you! I wanted to read it but with my towering TBR, I had to be really picky about which books I requested..