Book Review: Witchstruck
By: Victoria Lamb
Published By: Corgi Childrens
Publication Date: July 5, 2012
Page Count: 368
Buy it at Amazon
Source: Amazon Vine UK
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy/Paranormal, Historical Fiction
Witchstruck is an interesting mash up between historical and paranormal fiction. I thought that looking at witchcraft during the times when witches faced death would be interesting, and Witchstruck largely delivered well.
The narrative follows Meg Lytton, a young witch who serves as a maid to Princess Elizabeth during the reign of Mary I, Queen of England. Elizabeth is held captive at Woodstock Manor and lives with the daily fear that she will be found guilty of treason; at the same time she is desperate to be Queen and she often consults witches to try and gain glimpses of the future.
One thing that I felt perhaps was slightly lacking in Witchstruck was a really good examination of why people would continue with a religious/spiritual practice (be it witchcraft or protestant worship) which could easily lead them to be put to death. Elizabeth must pretend to be a good little Catholic, as does Meg, while Meg frequently has to refute being a witch. Both of these charades are explained, but I felt that I would have needed stronger motivation if I personally were to risk my neck in such a way. I could understand the religious side of this easily, as a belief in God & Heaven is a strong motivator; there was no such explanation for the witchcraft. That hampered my ability to connect with Meg; I didn't really understand why she would risk her life so many times to slip off just to practice late at night, especially when a witch hunt seemed to be a national pass time.
The plot develops when a witch hunter and a young Catholic priest in training enter Meg's life. The witch hunter is a despicable individual, as one might imagine many such people have been in the past. Less interested in justice, and more in personal revenge, it wasn't hard to loathe Marcus Dent. Alejandro de Castillo was a definite interest, and he and Meg shared some quite confusingly hot moments... confusing as Alejandro is all but sworn in to be a priest and he not only seems to have the hots for Meg, but he also doesn't seem to care much about her witchcraft either.
I enjoyed the story line where both Meg and Alejandro had to go off to save Elizabeth from a potential treason charge in the making; watching Meg use her witchcraft while Alejandro used his fine Spanish sword was quite engaging! The inevitable witch hunt was also very readable and there was at least one scene which was truly horrifying.
All in all, I did enjoy Witchstruck, but I felt that there were a few holes in the characters' motivations which I had to ignore to keep up the enjoyment. This was a light-hearted read, which has definite potential for the rest of the series.
On a final note, the copy I read had the tagline "Twilight meets The Other Boleyn Girl", which is slightly over egging it. I don't think this is something that Twilight fans would necessarily love, it is more heavily swayed to the historical fiction end of the scale; I think those fans of historical fiction looking for a slightly new twist on it all would enjoy Witchstruck.
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.
Thrilling and fast-paced, this is the first unputdownable story in a bewitching new series.