Monday, July 02, 2007

The Witch Child by Celia Rees

Completion Date: May 2007
Pages: 234
Publication Year: 2001
Purchased in 2007
Book One in the Witch Child duology.

Reason for Reading: This is a book that I have seen on blogs a lot and since the witch hunts of the past have always been an interesting subject for me, I thought that this book would be a good idea.
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 realizes that the past is not so easy to escape.
It is hard to believe that it is July and I am still reviewing books left over from May! That's what happens when you try and stay ahead of the game with June, you end up behind in the previous month AND behind in June. Hopefully by the end of July the books will be up-to-date.

The Witch Child is a book that I thought was relatively new because several bloggers read it this year. I was surprised to find it came out six years ago. Fantasy is my favourite genre to read, so it is probably no surprise to people when books that have a fantasy feel to them interest me. This book is about a child who loses her grandmother because the townspeople believe she was a witch. This is hard because this woman raised her and was the only person she ever really knew. To avoid the same fate happening to her, though, her grandmother makes arrangements for someone to get Mary out of England.

The majority of the novel takes place with the voyage to America and what life is like once they arrive there. Ironically, the young girl leaves England to avoid being called a witch and ends up in Salem, the setting of many future witch persecution. Mary soon finds that she is not much better off here than she was in England. She has to be careful of what she does, everyone does, because it does not take much for her to be branded a witch and burned for it. She lives in a very conservative, religious community and they have very strict rules for how their citizens should live.

This is a young adult look at how hard it was to be yourself in Salem at this time, especially if you were female. Men could get away with a lot more. The littlest instance, unremarkable to many, could be the end for you. Mary is constantly on her guard and is always forced to live a life that is not her own. She has cause, though. She is not like everyone else, and she likes to spend time on her own. These are things that can mark her in the end.

Parting Thoughts: I am glad I took fellow bloggers recommendations and read this book. It was a very interesting look at life in Salem and what it was like to be female at this time. I look forward to eventually reading the sequel.


  1. This sounds like something I'd love! I'm going to see if my library has it.

  2. I'm glad you liked this. I've passed by it a few times and thought I would probably like it.

  3. Mailyn - it was a good read, and there is a sequel

    Stephanie - It was good! I look forward to reading the sequel and see what happens next!

  4. Great review! Just want to add Witch Child is also extremely well researched and written in prose that is very period. In fact it was the unusual style of writing that drew me in.


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