The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston
I struggle with calling this an Urban Fantasy book, but according to the definitions we’re using, that’s what it would be. The book is written in two genres: a modern ghost story and a historical fiction. I want to call it contemporary fantasy, but that doesn’t really fit either. In any case, it’s a beautiful story!
Publisher’s Description: A year after her husband’s sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat’s death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she’s near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.
On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.
In her own time, Tilda’s grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake’s ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each other’s, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren’s prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster is not to shatter her life once more…
The Silver Witch tells the story of two women – one in modern times and one in the 900s A. D. Both women are ethereally beautiful albinos with spiritual power and linked through a common bloodline. When an evil witch from history enters the modern world, the women must work together to bring her to justice.
Ms. Brackston’s writing is very lyrical and beautiful. She creates such a dreamy and sensual quality to her story by her choice of words and verb tense – telling both stories in the present tense. It is a perfect feeling to evoke the misty, spiritual Celtic countryside in which the story is set.
I’m the perfect audience for this book, I admit. I am a fan of historical fiction, particularly set in the early ages of Britain. The descriptions of the Welsh country, the modern village, the Dark Ages settlement all stir in me a great love that, I’m sure, started with the tales of King Arthur.
I also loved the description of modern life in rural Wales and of the making of ceramics and a kiln. Those were great details that weren’t overdone yet brought me into a different world and taught me something I hadn’t known before.
I can think of very few nitpicks to add to this review; and even those are more observations than real nitpicks. Ms. Brackston almost lost points with me for her dealings with Thistle, the dog; but, she redeemed herself in the end. I also wondered why the origin event of the conflict centered on two relatively minor characters in the story. But, to be honest, I don’t really care about those things. The feeling of reading this book is too lovely to spoil with complaints.
This is the first Paula Brackston book I have read, though all her other books are on my Kindle waiting their turn. The covers are so lovely and hint at a historical and possibly supernatural story; I just couldn’t resist them. If the other books are like The Silver Witch, I’m going to kick myself for not reading them sooner. As a fan of history and fantasy and that sweet, dreamy feeling of ancient myths and magics, I am eager to fall into Ms. Brackston’s world again and again. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
If you like this book…
I would certainly suggest trying the rest of Ms. Brackston’s books, though I have yet to read them myself. Other books that give me this beautiful, dreamy feeling are the Avalon books by Marion Zimmer Bradley, particularly The Mists of Avalon; and the Strangely Beautiful series by Leanna Renee Hieber. If you like the history aspect of this book, Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Saga is another of my favorite Arthurian tales you might enjoy. For the time-traveling aspect, of course, try the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.
Review copy provided by Thomas Dunne Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.