"If the Brontë sisters had penned magical realism, this would have been the result."- The Guardian
I'm thrilled beyond words to be part of this blog tour. Rarely do I find a book that wins me over so completely with the quality of prose, rich storytelling, a deeply atmospheric setting and unforgettable characters. Paula Brackston is a force to be reckoned with, my friends, with the potential to become a classic.
Please take the time to check out the book trailer. It will give you a great feel of the setting and the atmosphere.
Published: December 24th 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: Paperback, 368 pgs
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository
In her small early nineteenth century Welsh town, there is no one quite like Morgana, who has not spoken since she was a young girl. Her silence is a mystery, as well as her magic. Concerned for her safety, her mother is anxious to see her married, and Cai Jenkins, a widower from the far hills, seems the best choice.After her wedding, Morgana is heartbroken at leaving her mother, and wary of this man, whom she does not know, and who will take her away to begin a new life. But she soon falls in love with Cai’s farm and the wild mountains that surround it. Cai works to understand the beautiful, half-tamed creature he has chosen for a bride, and slowly, he begins to win Morgana’s affections. It’s not long, however, before her strangeness begins to be remarked upon in her new village. A dark force is at work there—a person who will stop at nothing to turn the townspeople against Morgana. Forced to defend her home, her man, and herself, Morgana must learn to harness her power, or she will lose everything.
Although I read many fabulous books every year, rarely do I come across this level of quality in writing. Paula Blackstone writes boldly and confidently, and she’s done her homework well. Through her choice of words, her sentence structure and the elegance she infused in every sentence, she brought to life the unique setting and our two unforgettable characters. I am inclined to agree with The Guardian: The Winter Witch is worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as the Brontë sisters.
Imagine the mountains of Wales in 1830. Life is fairly simple, people are devout and very supersticious, marriages are arranged and lives are cheap. People get born and die with very little fuss. Try to imagine the wonderful nature, the horses and other animals, rivers and wells. Truth be told, with Paula Brackston, you won’t have to try very hard – she offers it all so easily – all one has to do is relax and enjoy the atmosphere.
When you add to that the audacity it took to write a protagonist who doesn’t speak, you’ll realize that Brackston is an awe-inspiring author. Morgana doesn’t utter a single word in this novel, and yet she communicates so loudly with her new husband and their lovely housekeeper. Cai takes her silence for granted and doesn’t hold it against her, especially once he realizes how it came about, but the rest of his small town isn’t so accepting. Morgana is used to glances of derision from her neighbors, but Cai, unaccustomed to such treatment and fairly idealistic, doesn’t handle it very well.
For all his kindness and mild temper, Cai was frustratingly oblivious at times. I wished to see him fight more bravely for Morgana, even though he never truly turned his back on her. What he did to defend her was endearing, but at times painfully insufficient. Nevertheless, I found their romance extremely believable and Cai a gentle, wonderful character, with mind and heart open and ready to accept the strangeness and wild nature of a witch.
The plot here is fairly straightforward, with the villain clear from the very beginning. It’s not a mystery, but rather a story about the slow building of trust between two people who are essentially strangers, even if they are new spouses. There is something magical about their journey, an unidentifiable quality that makes The Winter Witch a truly outstanding read.
Facebook page, and if you're still unconvinced, here are the first two chapters of The Winter Witch.