I picked up a copy of The Winter Witch at Fantasycon and was impressed with the quality of the writing – see my review here. So would I enjoy this earlier offering as much?
In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself. She has spent the centuries in solitude, moving from place to place, surviving plagues, wars and the heartbreak that comes from immortality. Her loneliness comes to an abrupt end when she is befriended by a teenage girl called Tegan. Against her better judgement, Elizabeth opens her heart to Tegan and begins teaching her the ways of the Hedge Witch. But all this time she has been running – and this time around, she has someone else she needs to protect…
I really enjoyed this one. I’m a sucker for a well-told historical tale, and Brackston adroitly weaves the present day with the flashbacks into earlier episodes of Beth’s life. At no time is there any confusion and the periods described by Beth when she retells slices of her long life are both entertaining and vivid. She is an intriguing and layered personality – I found her completely believable, really enjoying her wariness and drive to atone for what initially happened to her. Brackston also handles the narrative tension extremely well – it would have been all too easy to get bogged down in a forest of historical detail as each scene is different.
Tegan is a refreshing contrast. Typical teenager, she is impressed with the skills Beth chooses to show her and yet initially is also resistant to being told what to do. They have a tussle of wills – a classical scenario between a young girl and an older woman. Brackston is very good at quickly developing nuanced, interesting relationships between her characters without unduly holding up the pace. Given that I read her two books the wrong way around – this is the first book, while The Winter Witch is the second book in the series – I think it is the stronger of the two.
The ending to this book was magnificent – I thought I saw it coming, but I didn’t. And afterwards, when I’d scraped my jaw off the floor, I realised that it made absolute sense and completely tied up the story arc. While I enjoyed The Winter Witch, I loved The Witch’s Daughter. And if your taste runs to well-written paranormal books with some gripping historical flashbacks added to the spell, then go looking for this one – it’s worth it.