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The Witch's Daughter (Shadow Chronicles #1)

3.54  ·  Rating Details ·  20,658 Ratings  ·  2,178 Reviews
In the spring of 1628, the Witchfinder of Wessex finds himself a true Witch. As Bess Hawksmith watches her mother swing from the Hanging Tree she knows that only one man can save her from the same fate: the Warlock Gideon Masters. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers and making her immortal. She couldn’t have ...more
Kindle Edition, 416 pages
Published January 18th 2011 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Angello Adrien The Salem era when she first met that warlock when she saw him dancing that night.and when she was fighting him with that soldier guy she was in love…moreThe Salem era when she first met that warlock when she saw him dancing that night.and when she was fighting him with that soldier guy she was in love with.(less)
Alex I would say definitely not, due to the fact that there are three instances of rape. There is also a lot of death, mostly war violence, and an in-depth…moreI would say definitely not, due to the fact that there are three instances of rape. There is also a lot of death, mostly war violence, and an in-depth hanging scene. There aren't bad words however.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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I liked this book. I think it was well written and it moved along at a comfortable pace….like watching a movie that isn’t too slow or too fast. It wasn’t trying to be more than it seemed like it was meant to be…a feel good and entertaining book….not always sunny and bright…not always gloomy and dark…pleasantly imaginative and vividly told.

These kinda books are underrated…I’m not saying they should be overrated either—but there is something very respectable about an author knowing how to tell the
Ben Babcock
You’re just going about your daily business, healing people and whatnot, and then what happens? The plague. Suddenly everyone in town is accusing you of being a witch and clamouring for the witch-finder to hang you for consorting with Satan and dancing naked with demons and whatnot. Isn’t that always the way of things? Don’t you hate how people are just so close-minded, even in as enlightened an age as the 1620s? Just because someone might be a witch doesn’t mean she worships Satan! Witches can ...more
Small Review
I was suckered into this book, despite the negative reviews, because the description sounded interesting and the cover caught my eye. Ugh, I should have listened to the reviews. Or, I wish the reviews had been more detailed as to why people didn’t like the book. I’m going to try to be detailed.

First things first, don’t believe that description. It’s sort of accurate, kinda, but it gave me the complete wrong impression. I was expecting to start out with her mother dead and then follow her as she
Bark's Book Nonsense
This review and the rest of the crap I write can be seen @ my blog Bark's Book Nonsense . Stop by and say hey.

I saw this book on Overdrive and chose it for my Halloween Bingo “Witches” square for no other reason than the title and I guess the blurb sounded vaguely interesting to me, even though the reviews weren’t great. Turns out it was a decent read if you can get past the slow as hell start, but I don’t know if it would’ve worked for me if I hadn’t listened to it as an unabridged audio. Pati
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 17, 2011 Lolly K Dandeneau rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had such high hopes, even ignoring the poor reviews that I should have heeded as warnings. The first few pages held promise, but then something happened, the character turned cold, and I didn't feel an intimacy at all in the writing. I do not have an issue, as some seem to, with stories written as a journal after all, my favorite books are Anais Nin's diaries, so long as the emotions are genuine. The only character I remotely liked was the evil villain, as he was the most interesting one. Woul ...more
Aug 04, 2011 Julie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was decent enough that I finished reading it, but The Witch's Daughter was, above all else, formulaic and repetitive. Even though it was a book of 4 stories in one, they were all basically exactly the same, following the same pattern of A then B leads to C. "Plot twists" were predictable, especially after the first two internal stories finished. I kept finding myself asking the main character the question of, "Really? You haven't learned? You're supposed to have lived through all of these dif ...more
I feel like this author has a lot of potential, but it wasn't quite realized in The Witch's Daughter. The characters were compelling, yet I consistently found myself wanting more: more depth, more backstory, more understanding of their motivation. Ms. Brackston has a talent for creating characters who draw the reader in and I really enjoyed the beginning and the diary entry format. Even the flashbacks worked for me, although it's becoming a worn format at this point. However, she undermined her ...more
BAM The Bibliomaniac
Book flips between several time periods because, you know, true witches don't die. Which reminds me of someone is going to turn me into a witch or vampire he or she better get a move on because I'm getting old
Anyway Bess makes a friend and an enemy
Practices her magic and does her best to avenge a wrong done. That's about it
Sep 16, 2012 Paula rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I usually love books with this premise but I only finished it because it was a book club pick. The story has an intriguing enough premise: a witch, hundreds of years old, meets a present day young girl and shares the story of how she became a witch and hopes to train the young girl as an apprentice. Through tales told to the young girl, we learn the tragic circumstances of her life and how she is constantly on the run from the man who made her what she has become. Each of her histories becomes r ...more
Mar 11, 2014 Mary rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well this was a HUGE disappointment to me. I love historical fiction, witchcraft, the supernatural....but this wasn't thrilling, this was a SNOOOOOZE. It started off promising enough, and then went quickly downhill. I enjoyed the beginning of the book, especially meeting the adult Bess and hearing her tell of her poor tragic childhood. Tegan as her side kick just irritated me, made it a bit Charmed-ish for me. Once we left the days of the plague and ended up in Ripper time London, and then to wa ...more
Jan 21, 2013 Katie rated it it was amazing
For starters I don't understand why people criticize authors for their writing style, it makes no sense. All writers write differently, end of story. Also criticizing a fiction book because of the fictional events in it?? Again pointless. Now onto the book review.

It started out dry.. Really dry but it picked up quick enough and by chapter 5 of Bess's story I was hooked and didn't want to put it down. It was very well written, easy to follow, easy to picture the places and characters and it was e
Deanna Sletten
Feb 07, 2013 Deanna Sletten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
My 5 Star Review

In 1628, Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith (Bess) is a young woman when she loses her family to the plague and then watches her mother swing from The Hanging Tree, accused of being a witch. Scared and alone, she reluctantly follows her mother's wishes and goes to Gideon Masters' cottage in the woods to seek his protection and become his student. What Bess soon learns is that Gideon is a warlock—one who practices dark magic. Soon, a mob comes after Bess, proclaiming her to be a witch like
Nov 01, 2011 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love historical fiction, especially anything about witches and witchcraft, so I was especially glad to find this book. It's similar to the Daughters Of the Witching Hill, The Heretic's Daughter and The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, but less about the witch trials and more about the life of an immortal witch as she traverses through history in her 300-some odd years of life.

The first few chapters were slow and I wondered if the book would get better, which it did, only when the author star
This reminded me quite a bit of Chocolat in the opening, but with a less personable main character. I didn't mind that so much, as I've been told this is a witch story where there really are dark powers, shades of grey, etc, etc. Once I got to the storytelling part, too, that was tolerable historical fiction, though not anything really surprising. (For a similar story about plague, for example, there's Year of Wonders, by Geraldine Brooks.)

In the end, it just fizzled out for me. Which is unfortu
The Witch's Daughter was a fairly enjoyable read that made up in the evenly paced writing what it lacked in character and plot development. The writing flowed so beautifully that it was easy to lose myself in the story even when I felt that many of the characters lacked depth and the direction of the story was often confusing. For example, Gideon's obsession with Bess was never sufficiently explained which meant that his following her all of those years made little sense. It seemed beyond reason ...more
May 13, 2013 Palmer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book hard to put down once I picked it up. The way she transfers from the present to the past flowed perfectly. The author didn't have things happen too fast but they weren't too slow either. (Again why it was hard to put the book down because everything flowed too well to put a halt to it) The only thing I didn't like was the main character's opinion of Gideon. Perhaps I myself am a bit dark and find guys with a dark evil past more inviting than deterring. So I wish the author eith ...more
Dena (Batch of Books)
I loved this book! It was captivating from start to finish. It was very dark, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone that has qualms about witchcraft, magic, or the dark arts. Bess is a great character, who turns into a witch in a moment of desperation and spends the rest of her long life making retribution for it by caring for people. Gideon is a completely horrible person, and I loved how scary and relentless he was.

The book is told in alternatively from the present day journal of Elizabeth and
Jennifer Dundee
Jun 19, 2011 Jennifer Dundee rated it it was ok
Good Premise, interesting writing style. But.. the ending. Sigh. Why do you do this to me books? Does your author get tired 4/5ths of the way through writing you? You should have more self esteem than to let youself be published with an ending that belittles the effort that went into imagining and creating you. Needless to say, I was disappointed in the author's choice of exposition. The final chapter, written from the perspective of the "Tegan" character, was out of place and just plain stupid. ...more
Sadie Hartmann
I enjoyed this book for quite awhile. It gave me all these warm, cozy feelings perfect for a Fall read. It had this Little House in the Big Woods feel at first-with the protagonist of our story, Bess, moving into a cottage and gardening, getting her house all set up, etc.
I love stuff like that.
Then Bess meets Teagan, a modern day teenager and the stories of Bess' life over 300 years begin. The first story was *really* intriguing. We have a sleepy town, a family farm, the BLACK PLAGUE. We meet an
May 06, 2011 Tamara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tough review to write because in general, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it. Having said that, I had a problem with the Jack The Ripper insertion into the story. Really? Everything else was handled quite creatively and I don't think it was necessary to include it as part of the frame of a small portion of the story. My biggest complaint was not the semi-satisfying end (yes, sometimes things end the way that they should instead of happily ever after)but in the character of Tegan ...more
Brandi ;)
I'm not going to star this book bc I didn't finish it. I just couldn't get into it like I had hoped and with so many other books waiting to be read and so many more on their way soon, I just had to put it down. Last year I would have forced myself to finish, but since I've become a GR member I've come to realize - there are just WAY to many books out there for me to waste time on one that doesn't catch my interest. So, maybe one day I will pick this book back up and finish it. It wasn't bad, jus ...more
Erin Arkin
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. A
Dec 23, 2015 Angel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If you will listen," I said, "I will tell you a tale of witches. A tale of magic and love and loss. A story of how simple ignorance breeds fear, and how deadly that fear can be. Will you listen?"

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I was hoping that I would like it but didn't really know what I was in for. This is historical fiction intertwined with supernatural wonder to birth a compelling story of a witch who is just trying to live her life but has been on the run for hundreds of years.
Mar 30, 2013 Erica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, pagan, favorites
This story is about a solitary Wiccan named Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, turned immortal by the one creature she spends nearly her entire existence fearing and loathing, the warlock Gideon Masters. Nearly four hundred years old, she finds a new place to settle turning out to be near to her first home when she meets a young teenaged girl named Tegan. Unknowingly at first, Elizabeth becomes attached to her as if she were her own daughter. Tegan obtains a huge interest in the craft and all she's accom ...more
Jan 15, 2014 Rachel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was really hard to like this book when it started with such a dull premise and kept confusing the reader with lengthy and tedious flashbacks. I couldn't even tell what the chracter's motive was until 200 pages in. For the most part, it seemed like nothing more than a series of disturbing journal entries from a witch who is naive, gullible, easily seduced, and ignorant of danger that the reader can smell from a mile away thanks to the author's not-so-subtle hints. Truthfully, I disliked Bess s ...more
I thought this was a pretty good book, but three things disappointed me: the ending, the smallish font size and the character Tegan. I found Tegan to be annoying and thought her personality just didn't fit with the story. As far as the font size is concerned, I hate getting into a book and then having to stop reading because my eyes are sore. (I know some books make note of the font style/size but this one didn't, and it's just my personal opinion that it seemed smaller than most books.) It's w ...more
Nov 04, 2016 Sahar rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More of a 3.5 stars

The beginning of the book was a little bit boring but the flashbacks were good. Then at some point things started to change and it became more and more interesting !!!

The last 100 pages or so, I couldn't stop reading and the end was good enough to make want to read the next book.

I must say that what I liked most in this book were the flashbacks ;)
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Decent story but the ending did disappoint. I kinda knew where the story was going but overall it kept me interested.
Cresta McGowan
Feb 06, 2013 Cresta McGowan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-fiction
The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston is a magical and mysterious piece of historical fiction.

The book takes the reader through a lifetime of events not often experienced by one person. In my Saturday Morning Summary I indicated the book was moving a little slow for me, and it was. However, like most great books, a turning point emerges and it becomes impossible to put the book down. I found myself digesting a large cup of coffee last night to be absolutely sure I could stay awake to finish th
Patricia - Lady with Books
I was actually leaning more toward historical fiction for this book until demons and Satan showed up and the story tripped all over itself to end up firmly in the fantasy genre. The beginning of the book presents magic in a rational form, something that any craft practitioner would recognize today, and I believed the story would continue in that vein. But in the middle of the book the author takes a sharp left with how she is portraying magic and things get a bit silly from that standpoint. From ...more
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  • Petty Magic: Being the Memoirs and Confessions of Miss Evelyn Harbinger, Temptress and Troublemaker
  • Daughters of the Witching Hill
  • Deliverance from Evil
  • Susannah Morrow
  • When Autumn Leaves
  • The Witch's Trinity
  • A Modern Witch (A Modern Witch, #1)
  • Season of the Witch
  • The Hawley Book of the Dead
  • In a Witch's Wardrobe (A Witchcraft Mystery, #4)
  • The House of Velvet and Glass
  • Blood, Smoke and Mirrors (Bad Witch #1)
  • The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer
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  • The Restorer (Graveyard Queen, #1)
  • The Irish Princess
  • Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family, #1)
  • The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Paula Brackston (aka PJ Brackston)is the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch's Daughter, The Winter Witch, and The Midnight Witch(2014).

Paula has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and is a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Wales, Newport. In 2007 Paula was short listed in the Creme de la Crime search for new writers. In 2010 her book 'Nutters' (writing as PJ Da
More about Paula Brackston...

Other Books in the Series

Shadow Chronicles (4 books)
  • The Winter Witch
  • The Silver Witch
  • The Return of the Witch (The Witch's Daughter, #2)

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“Better foolish and honest than clever and false.” 49 likes
“To learn, you must be humble. You must be prepared to admit your ignorance. You must allow yourselves to be filled with the vital information presented to you via the skills and dedication of those who have gone before you down the long path to enlightenment.” 18 likes
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