Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A SECRET HISTORY OF WITCHES BY LOUISA MORGAN - BOOK REVIEW

This was a little less witch-y and a little more history-y than I was hoping for, but I still thought this was an ok book.

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan. Thanks so much to Hachette Book Group Canada for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.



The story follows a lineage of witches dating from 1821 to the end of World War II. It's hard to give a synopsis of this book because there is so much to recap. There are five generations of mother and daughter witches, all experiencing varying levels of persecution. The book goes through Nanette, the first of the five and the granddaughter of the great Grandmére Ursule, then her daughter Ursule, her daughter Irène, then her daughter Morwen and finally her daughter Veronica.

Each character is given her own "book" within the book that describes her life, typically from young teenhood through childbirth, marriage and later life. As the lineage goes on, the idea of the existence of witches diminishes and the threat of being burned at the stake decreases. Still, each part shows the particular woman's struggles and life experiences, as well as showing some trends within society that never seem to change.

I think this is a really good historical fiction, but it's not a great witch novel. Once we learn the basics with Nanette, there isn't a lot of unique things that happen in regards to witchcraft in the later generations. I was hoping for a bit more magic and more of the difficulties with being a witch. I also found that the basic storyline seemed to stay the same for most of the women: they weren't a huge fan of how life was going, find a random man, have a baby, either run away or marry a different random guy, and repeat. Each of the women has a story that basically boils down to this. I'm not sure if it's just because that was how things were done historically or if they just had some really bad luck with finding a decent husband in the first place because of being so widely ostracized.

There wasn't a lot that drove this novel, it was heavily reliant on the characters. Normally, I'm not a fan of these types of novels because I find that I have difficulty finding characters strong enough to carry the story. Unfortunately, I think this book was much of the same in that respect. There were a few characters I enjoyed, but for the most part, they weren't enough to keep the story going. I did finish the novel, but I think that was more me waiting for the other shoe to drop, for them to get caught.

I did really enjoy the travelling through history, especially the beginning parts where witchhunts were much more common and relevant to the story. I almost wish the story had focused on the first couple generations in the 1800s and fleshed out more of the consequences in that time period, instead of briefly touching on them throughout the span of roughly 100 years.

Overall, I think this book had a lot of potential, just not enough to make me love it as much as I could have.