Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Corgi Childrens (5 July 2012)
Meg Lytton has always known of her dark and powerful gift. Raised a student of the old magick by her Aunt Jane, casting the circle to see visions of the future and concocting spells from herbs and bones has always been as natural to Meg as breathing. But there has never been a more dangerous time to practise the craft, for it is 1554, and the sentence for any woman branded a witch is hanging, or burning at the stake.
Sent to the ruined, isolated palace of Woodstock to serve the disgraced Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and half-sister of Queen Mary, Meg discovers her skills are of interest to the outcast princess, who is desperate to know if she will ever claim the throne. But Meg’s existence becomes more dangerous every day, with the constant threat of exposure by the ruthless witchfinder Marcus Dent, and the arrival of a young Spanish priest, Alejandro de Castillo, to whom Meg is irresistibly drawn – despite their very different attitudes to her secret.
Meg’s journey opens in the ruins of the old palace at Woodstock. A full moon ritual is taking place, led by her Aunt Jane and attended by Elizabeth. A prediction is made and also a warning given.
We find out a little bit about Meg’s background and her leaving her home at Lytton Park to serve Elizabeth.
Alejandro comes onto the scene at a rather inopportune moment for Meg creating a false first impression. His master has been sent to administer religious instruction to Elizabeth in her forced seclusion at Woodstock.
We meet Marcus Dent after a witchcraft accusation is made against Meg by simple servant Joan. Sent to investigate the allegation, he offers Meg marriage in return for his protection. A character that will make your skin crawl …
Alongside the magic and the romance the reader becomes involved in a conspiracy. This is a time in England where religion is in turmoil – Protestants undercover while the Catholics are in power. Meg’s brother William and cousin Malcolm want to involve Meg in a plot and unwittingly she gives them exactly what they want. Betrayed by her father, we go on a tense journey to try and right the wrong.
Meg is a brilliant character. Still finding her way in the world of 1554, at times unsure of herself, naïve at times and wanting to find a place to belong. A lot of teens will identify with her! When she allows the power of her magic full reign she is awesome. My favourite scene is when Marcus Dent is seeking revenge at the village pond. Fabulously written. I had goosebumps!
Alejandro confuses Meg. At times warm and approachable yet at others cold and distant, she never knows what to make of him. Is he her ally or her enemy? I enjoyed watching their relationship develop.
With the fear of discovery of Meg’s talent, some harrowing scenes, the conspiracy and anxiety when Elizabeth is finally called back to court, the obsession of witchfinder Marcus Dent and the enigma of Alejandro, Witchstruck has plenty to engage the YA and adult reader alike. I’m looking forward to seeing where life will take Meg in the next volume of the trilogy.
Witchstruck is one of my recent purchases.
I was fortunate enough to take part in the blog tour for Witchstruck. You can read my Q & A with Victoria Lamb here.
Victoria Lamb is also the author of The Queen’s Secret (the first book in a trilogy about Lucy Morgan) . You can read my review here. His Dark Lady is the second book and due to be published 28 Feb 2012 by Bantam Press. I’m also looking forward to reading this!