Monday, 12 September 2011

Witch Child - Celia Rees

"She was locked in the keep for more than a week. First they walked her up and down, up and down between them, for a day and a night until she could no longer hobble, her feet all bloody and swollen. She would not confess. So they set about to prove she was a witch..."

Mary's grandmother is executed for witchcraft, and Mary is forced to leave her home to avoid the same fate. At first she flees to the English countryside, but when the atmosphere of superstition and suspicion becomes all consuming she leaves on a boat for America in the hope that she can start over and forget her past. But during the journey, she realises that the past is not so easy to escape. 


I first read this book when I was around 13....and now at 22 I still love it to pieces! 

The book has a brilliant mix of history and young adult drama so it avoids feeling like a history book! 

The first 3 lines of the book are some of the best:
I am Mary. I am a witch. Or so some would call me, "Spawn of the devil", 'Witch child',
To me that sets up the entire book. It is written in the style of a diary that has been found sown inside a quilt (reasons behind that are found out later) and because it is a young girls diary it is all "this happened then this happened", however I realise that makes it sound very standard and in a sense of "i did this...then i did this".
It really isn't like that though! Conversations are written in the diary as if they were taking place and she is jotting down verbatim what is being said.

The action and drama is still kept even though it is a diary and each page is eagerly turned. Ever since reading this book I've always wanted to visit Salem, Massachusetts and see where it all took place.

Celia Rees managed to still get teenage drama into the novel with the introduction of 3 girls, who are Marys age, and decide to accuse her of witchcraft so that her friend won't get married. It is amazing that she has managed to do it without leaving the time period or the tension of living in puritan life in America.

When I finished the book the first time, there was no mention of a sequel, but there was a website created (a big thing in 2001!) stating they needed help finding more information on Mary which I felt was a lovely thing to bring people more into the book and help it continue.

Now there is a sequel, and I once owned it...and I will own it again!

Witch Child was published by Bloomsbury in 2001. I bought mine from a charity shop, and in the back of this edition is a list of books to look out for...number 6 is the first Harry Potter (Which I really love the idea of a time when it was so new it had to be advertised...!)

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