February 7, 2017 by femvestige
I am currently reading The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston and I am thoroughly enjoying it! This book is a beautiful blend of a modern magical story and a historical fiction story. The amount of research Paula Brackston must have done to create this story is surely immense.
Elizabeth is a tall woman with auburn hair (the color of autumn) and a white streak. In our present day story, her outward appearance is of a woman who is 50 years of age. I imagine her to look a bit like this:
This tale begins with a prologue tale of a young girl or woman running away from a mob that is chasing her, and from a man that could entrap her. After this prologue, the story shifts into a journal format, with a witch named Elizabeth Hawksmith beginning a new Book of Shadows and sharing her age of 384. Elizabeth has recently moved into a new home and appears to have a long life of mystery and running away from danger. She meets a young girl named Teagan who also recently moved to the area and takes an immediate shine to Elizabeth. As Elizabeth’s defenses fall, she begins to share with Teagan her story.
The narration then takes us back to 1627 Batchcombe and a young Bess Hawkins. I am truly drawn into the story, the language, the time period niceties. During this time, plague enters Bess’s life both literally and figuratively and she experiences immense tragedy. It is in this section of our story we see where the prologue left us.
Immediately following the climax of this time period, the reader is brought back the modern day (2007).
Error: There is a glaring issue in this book that really bothers me. Elizabeth’s age is a serious problem. Elizabeth at the beginning of the story discloses she is 384 years old. She declares this is 2007 modern day. When the story goes back in time to when she stopped aging – this was 1628. There is 379 years difference between 1628 and 2007, which would make Elizabeth/Bess 5 years old in 1628. Bess is supposed to be almost an adult during this time and she indicates she was 16 when her world crashed around her. Now perhaps she counts 384 years as her immortal age from when she stopped aging… but if that were the case it would be 2012 in modern times and not 2007.
However, there is another flaw. Elizabeth says she guesses for every century, she ages outwardly 5 years. If this were the case, in 2007 she would appear outwardly only 35 years of age roughly, and not 50. These types of details may be minuscule, but glare at me and I cannot help but be bothered by them. If you are going to include the actual age over several centuries and details about the aging process, than at least be accurate about it and look back at what you have written. This is both an error on the author and the editor’s part.
Back in present day, Elizabeth is growing closer to Teagan and decides to share more with her about her past. We then go back to 1888, where Eliza Hawksmith is a doctor and assistant for a surgeon. We are seamlessly weaved into the time of Jack the Ripper, and enjoy a game of cat and mouse between witch and warlock.
As a young woman, I imagine Eliza to look like this (with period-appropriate hair and clothing):
Overall, I am really enjoying this book. Brackston weaves a beautiful story of a woman who has gone through time and experienced fear, courage, lust, love, power, loneliness, helplessness, and affection. We experience Bess the girl, to Eliza the woman, to Elizabeth the mother. Though we do not know much about Teagan, the young teenager Elizabeth has taken under her wing, we know that she is her own force to be reckoned with. I am excited to see her relationship with Elizabeth grow, her witch-y education blossom, and to see Elizabeth be the badass witch we all know she can be.
The Witch’s Daughter by Paula Brackston (read at 50%):
Rating out of 5: ✮✮✮✮
Genre: Mystery/Historical Fiction
Character Development: A
Best Feature: Weaving a story seamlessly between past and present
Worst Feature: The age discrepancy. If you are going to have a slightly aging immortal witch, do the math correctly.