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The Witch's Daughter

The Witch's Daughter - Paula Brackston Having been a history major in college, this book was perfect for me. It is a wonderful mix of historical events, great characters, and a moving story. I really did like this book and if you enjoy a little bit of magic mixed in with real history, you may like this one too.The book opens in 1628 and Elizabeth/Bess is the main character. In present time she is 384 years old but at this time she is the teenage daughter of a farmer and lives with her parents, her older brother, and younger sister. As with anyone during that time period, life isn’t really easy but Elizabeth/Bess and her family appear to live life as best they can. Anne is Elizabeth’s/Bess’s mother and shares her knowledge of herbs and caring for people with Elizabeth/Bess. During this time, the catalyst to a chain of events that will change life for Elizabeth/Bess forever happens. The plague invades their village and people are dying…including her father, brother and sister. When Elizabeth/Bess catches the sickness, Anne makes the decision to do whatever she feels is necessary to save her. What that means is she goes to Gideon Masters.As a reader we are never really given the backstory of Gideon – only introduced to him through Elizabeth’s/Bess’s eyes and although she never really knows who he is, she knows that he gives her a bad feeling when she crosses paths with him. With that said, I have mixed feelings about Gideon. He is definitely the “bad guy” of the story and is all about the power that he and Elizabeth/Bess could have together. I would have liked to learn a bit more about him but understand why Brackston didn’t put a lot of him in. The book was truly from Elizabeth’s/Bess’s point of view. Once Anne goes to Gideon for help, things move fairly quickly – at least in this portion of the story. Anne learns about the dark magic from Gideon and he helps her to save Elizabeth/Bess – unfortunately at the same time, the witch hunts begin and there is a lot of anger and fear in the village. Because Elizabeth/Bess survives the sickness and others do not, some of the women in the village accuse Anne of being a witch. The inevitable happens and Anne is put on “trial” (notice the quotes…not really a trial if you know anything about these witch hunts) and sentenced to die. With that proclamation, Anne directs Elizabeth/Bess to go to Gideon for help once she hangs as she knows that the church and hunters will come for her next. This was probably the most moving part of the story for me as I had a clear picture of who Elizabeth/Bess was before the plague and Brackston takes the reader through everything that happens up to the point that Elizabeth/Bess escapes gaol and runs from everyone. Over that time I had the nervous butterflies because this was in no way an easy part of the story to read. There is death, anger, sadness, and some other terrible things that happen eventually leading to Elizabeth/Bess taking the final step to immortality and living the long life of a witch.Brackston does a wonderful job of weaving the story of Elizabeth/Bess into some real historical events – The plague, witch hunts, Jack the Ripper and WWI – all have an impact on Elizabeth/Bess and help to progress the story. The back story is presented to the reader via Tegan who happens to be a teenage girl in 2007 who has become enamored with Elizabeth when she moves into her village. Hidden as a story of her ancestors (at first) Elizabeth tells Tegan all about her life. She shares how things began, how she has spent the last few centuries hiding and/or escaping Gideon as well as everything that has happened in between. Love, loss, success, and ultimately determining she would like to share her power with Tegan and educate her on how to use it.I feel like I haven’t even started talking about what this book is about – so much happens over such a long period of time but I don’t want to tell you everything. Know that I have only touched the surface of everything that happens but I don’t want to summarize the whole thing and take anything away – I know my review won’t do the full story much justice. If you enjoy history mixed in with a great story, I have a feeling you will enjoy this book.