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The Witch's Daughter

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My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith, and my age is three hundred and eighty-four years. Each new settlement asks for a new journal, and so this Book of Shadows begins.

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 at the hands of the panicked mob: the Warlock Gideon Masters, and his Book of Shadows. Secluded at his cottage in the woods, Gideon instructs Bess in the Craft, awakening formidable powers she didn't know she had and making her immortal. She couldn't have foreseen that even now, centuries later, he would be hunting her across time, determined to claim payment for saving her life.

In present-day England, Elizabeth has built a quiet life for herself, tending her garden and selling herbs and oils at the local farmers' market. But her solitude abruptly ends when a teenage girl called Tegan starts hanging around. Against her better judgment, Elizabeth begins teaching Tegan the ways of the Hedge Witch, in the process awakening memories—and demons—long thought forgotten.

Part historical romance, part modern fantasy, The Witch’s Daughter is a fresh, compelling take on the magical, yet dangerous world of Witches. Readers will long remember the fiercely independent heroine who survives plagues, wars, and the heartbreak that comes with immortality to remain true to herself, and protect the protégé she comes to love.

305 pages, Hardcover

First published December 1, 2008

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About the author

Paula Brackston

25 books4,378 followers
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 Davy) was short listed for the Mind Book Award, and she was selected by the BBC under their New Welsh Writers scheme.


Paula lives in Wales with her partner and their two children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,576 reviews
Profile Image for Small Review.
610 reviews207 followers
July 14, 2019
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 learned magic from a sexy bad boy warlock. They’d have a falling out of some sort and she would start running and he’d chase her through the centuries. Sounds good, right? Yeah, that’s so not what happens.

It takes forever for her mother to die and then we don’t watch Bess learn anything. All of her magic lessons are disappointingly glossed over. The part before her mother dies isn’t so bad, though it is a lot longer than I was expecting. You learn about Bess and her family living in the dark ages (literally) and dealing with plague and poverty. Ok historical fiction, but nothing that particularly stood out for me. I really tried to work up sympathy for Bess, but I never connected with any of the characters well enough to feel more than an objective recognition of her horrible situation.

The two other historical sections interested me less and had fewer historical details. I don’t really understand why those two parts of her life were highlighted. What was so special about them? The scenes mentioned but never shown sounded more interesting than the ones that were actually described. These flashbacks were all written in the third person. I felt very disconnected to the main character. I think this would have worked better for me if it had been written in the first person.

These historical flashbacks alternate with journal entries written by Bess in modern times. She talks about her growing relationship with Tegan. Tegan annoyed me. She didn’t feel like a genuine teenager. Instead she felt more like an adult’s forced and over the top attempt at sounding like a teenager. I also thought Bess was especially boring and pathetic in these parts. She was like a shadow of a person. All of her talk about not getting close to anyone kind of contradicted all of her flashbacks, too.

Bess was a likable enough character in the beginning. As the story went on though, I found myself getting more and more frustrated with her. She turned into the type of character I spend most of my time screaming at and wishing she’d stop being such an idiot. In the final 100 pages of the book I just wanted Gideon to kill everyone, Bess included.

There was one scene in the final flashback where I said to myself, “If she does X, I swear I’m not going to finish this book.” It was such a stupid thing that was completely unnecessary. Well, she did it, but I did finish the book. I had only about 50 pages more to go. I couldn’t stand not finishing the book after all that, so I skimmed the rest.

And the promised romance? Ugh, no. The warlock is creepy. Not creepy like a good ghost story, but creepy like a rapist. Which is what he is. Bess observes him raping a girl in a crude and unnecessary scene. This should have been a big warning for her, and while she is repulsed, a few chapters later she’s lusting after him herself. Um, yeah, I totally wasn’t getting on board with that.

Then there’s another creepy Satan/demon/eeew sex scene that leads to Bess running from Gideon. Ok, so rape didn’t scare her off but demon Satan sex did it? Whatever. Then Bess is raped in a really unnecessary and awkward scene. Did you see anything about this in the blurb? Because I sure didn’t!

There are more reasons I didn’t like this book, but do you really need any more? I don't mind reading about sex in a book, but the way it was done here isn't my thing. I also think my inaccurate expectations may have affected my enjoyment. There's also a lot of the "rah rah female sisterhood" thing going on here, and I don't tend to like that.

Originally posted at Small Review
Profile Image for Farfished9.
53 reviews14 followers
November 27, 2011
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 their story with balance and not a hint of ego. If you’re the kinda reader (be brutally honest with yourself—come oooon) that is teeming with ego yourself—don’t bother with this book—haha. You’ll no doubt find it droll and predictable…and you’ll no doubt have it all figured out from the get go. Surely the lurking inferiority complex murmuring in your ear will whisper—“WE could write a better book!” My advice to such readers is to do with out this book and to write your own…then you won’t be able to complain that you’re too smart for it because let’s face it—no one is smarter than you! =))

I never felt like the author was trying to impress me or convince me of anything…I didn’t feel like I was asked to take on any certain feelings or pressured into being moved along with how certain aspects of the story were presented. I felt like I was simply being told a story and asked only to listen—if I wanted to. I don’t like going into reading a book with the attitude of feeling like I am being intellectually challenged for the point of it or that I myself am challenging the writer to awe and inspire me…that’s bullcrap and noooo fun.

I like this rare feeling while reading a book because so often I feel manipulated by authors. Don’t get me wrong—I can totally appreciate being guided by an author’s words…and sometimes I am in the mood to be swept in whichever possible direction they’ve sought to carry me…there can be a relaxing quality in this too, if it is not overdone.

This book was an easy and relaxing read for me…which let me just…be. The story itself was just like that too…it just was. Thanks Ms. Brackston! Well done! En core! Have you written anything else?? I’m gonna check it out right now…=)
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,920 reviews1,256 followers
October 2, 2011
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 be good and pure and use their powers only to help and heal!

Except, in this case, witches do derive their powers from Satan (or at least, some of the darkest ones). That’s what finally sealed the deal for me with The Witch’s Daughter: though it’s not really a twist, I loved that Paula Brackston added that price to the character of Bess Hawksmith. She had magic, could perform small charms and help in small ways, without resorting to the dark arts. But to save herself, to become immortal and escape sharing her mother’s fate, she had to call upon demons and devils. This witch isn’t so innocent after all.

Brackston provides us with several snapshots of Bess’ nearly four hundred years of life. First we learn about her origins in the small town of Batchcombe, 1628. Next she’s Dr. Elisabeth Hawksmith, assisting with surgeries in 1888 and investigating brutal murders of prostitutes. Finally, she’s Elise Hawksmith, registered nurse dispatched to a small frontier hospital at Passchendaele. Bess doesn’t move around and “change” her name just to avoid raising suspicions, what with the whole not aging thing—she’s on the run from another immortal, a warlock named Gideon who taught her everything she knows. Bess’ mother made Bess promise to seek out Gideon and learn magic from him, because that would be the only way to ensure Bess’ safety. But Bess didn’t want to walk the dark path, and Gideon seems like an obsessed pyscho ex-boyfriend—one who can kill you, mind-rape you, and rape you. It’s called a Book of Shadows for a reason!

This actually a rather dark book, and I guess in retrospect that’s evident from the inside cover copy, but I didn’t envision it that way when I began reading. It’s billed as “part historical romance”, but there doesn’t seem to be any hero to our heroine. In her two subsequent flashbacks, Bess does fall for two other men, but that doesn’t work out. And I certainly wouldn’t call Gideon her one true love! So I will beg to differ with the book’s cover copy: The Witch’s Daughter isn’t much in the way of a romance, and that is probably a good thing.

This book does not open strongly so much as with a sombre attempt at something like mediocrity. Something about the epistolary style of the chapters set in the present day left me cold: there was nothing interesting about this Elizabeth character, and why the hell should I care if she’s taken a liking to a new girl, Tegan, and decided to teach her some witchcraft? I was beginning to regret taking a gamble on it from the New Books shelf at the library—but then Brackston began telling me about Bess’ first steps toward witchcraft in 1628, and I was hooked.

The Elizabeth of present day is a very unsatisfying character, but Bess Hawskmith is brilliant. A little bit naïve, but she grows from an innocent girl into a self-possessed, tragically bereaved woman. Her entire family, with the exception of her mother, dies in the plague. Then she loses her mother because of what we recognize to be short-sightedness, selfishness, and superstition among the townfolk. Then, in that lovely twist, Brackston makes us question whether it was really superstitious of them at all. Bess begins learning from Gideon but reneges on their relationship, beginning a centuries-long game of hide-and-seek. I just have one quibble: why was her name always some version of “Elizabeth” followed by the surname “Hawksmith”? Wouldn’t that be a little too obvious? She could have at least used some more creative aliases!

Between the flashbacks, Elizabeth’s relationship with Tegan develops—though at a distance, because we see this all from her diary. I wish Brackston had more thoroughly explained what makes Tegan so special, why Elizabeth is just now deciding to teach her craft to someone else. She doesn’t ever seem to worry that this might put Tegan in harm’s way, might make her a target for Gideon’s cruelty. This problem compounds as we approach the end of The Witch’s Daughter and the climactic confrontation between Elizabeth and Gideon. Firstly, Tegan, writing in Elizabeth’s diary, tells us all about it in hindsight. (To her credit, Brackston effects the change in voice very well.) Secondly, the climax happens way too fast, with very little justification for how it happens. After all the hardship Elizabeth has endured in her various identities, and after everything Gideon has put her through, I didn’t get enough closure. I don’t know how she feels. The ending, with Tegan’s optimistic evaluation of the situation, felt rather flippant compared to the earlier, darker moments of this book.

So The Witch’s Daughter is a little all over the map. It has these great, shining moments of insight into the nature of loss and suffering. Brackston’s perspective on witchcraft is, while not all that original, rather refreshing in tone. And parts of Elizabeth’s historical narrative were truly fascinating. Alas, all of this must be balanced against a story that starts off too sparse and eventually, somehow, beyond all my comprehension, becomes too compressed. This is one of the few times I wish a book had been longer. I wish Brackston had given us more exposition, more scenes between Elizabeth and Tegan, more snapshots of Elizabeth’s life. The Witch’s Daughter is a good book, and the flaws it has are the types of flaws to which good books all too often succumb.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Profile Image for Katie.
32 reviews
January 25, 2013
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 easy to understand. Great writing and great story. However, I had difficulty connecting with any other character. I was able to connect with Bess to a short extent. I felt sad for her but I never got emotional. Either way I still really enjoyed the book. I'm glad I bought it.
Profile Image for Paula Brackston.
Author 25 books4,378 followers
November 1, 2021
Hello all you lovely readers! I just wanted to check in and say how much I appreciate you taking the time to rate and review my book. Whatever your feelings about the story, feedback is what keeps the conversation going, and informs the way I think about my future work.
You might like to know that Book Four in my Found Things series - 'City of Time and Magic' is a crossover with this book and 'The Return of the Witch'. Out November 23rd!
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,722 reviews672 followers
February 10, 2017
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. Patience is a virtue that I don’t possess and I have too many books in the tbr pile to read before I croak.

But no one cares about all that.

After a slightly confusing and slow start with a distant narrator, Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith finally introduces herself and informs us that her current age is three hundred and eighty-four years. She’s apparently immortal and hiding herself away because something evil is after her. How did this happen? Well, hang in there because we’re about to find out eventually.

The book is told in journal form and skips around in time. I believe the current timeline was 2007 but my memory is crap so I’m not certain. It doesn’t really matter anyway. In the current day, she is making herbal remedies and incense and living a quiet life when a lonely teen named Tegan befriends her. Despite the fact that she never gets close to anyone for reasons, she starts to teach Tegan the ways of the hedge witch and begins sharing her life story with her. These stories, journal entries and whatnot flash us back to important parts of Elizabeth’s life.

The first flashback was my favorite. It takes place during the plague. I don’t know about you, but those dark, terrible times fascinate me. She suffers great loss and grief and I may have even almost shed a tear. It was here that she finally comes alive as a character and events happen that shape the rest of long life. The present day version of Elizabeth is muted and meh but the past version is easily relatable and I felt her pain. So, without spoiling everything, I’ll just say that she must learn her magic from an evil-doer named Gideon if she is to survive in the world. Gideon is a master of the dark arts and uses them to his advantage. He’s a rapist and a mind-wiper and an all around selfish son-of-the-devil. She’s not at all happy about things but one must survive, right? One night she spies him in the woods dancing with demons, as one will, and screwing a few for fun, and she is scandalized and horrified by the sight. I actually wanted more of the scene but much to my dismay, she runs. He wants her back because she has power. She changes her name to Bess and then later to Eliza but always keeps the Hawksmith. It might’ve been smarter to go with anything else but I’m not hiding from Satan’s minion, so what do I know? Gideon always ferrets her out and she is forced to flee yet again. This game goes on for years and years and yet more years and is still going on in the current timeline.

I thought Gideon was an interesting character. He changes shape and does repulsive things and he has no remorse. None at all. I kind of enjoyed this, probably because I read so much horror fiction, but I can also understand why most people find him disturbing. He is. My biggest fear as I went along in this book was that an awful romance was brewing between these two and it would be revealed that he had reasons for his atrocities and all would be forgiven. This didn’t happen and I couldn’t be happier. He’s just a beastly beast, there is no romance and that worked for me. This book is far more tragedy than romance.

I’d give this book a 3 ½ but it's not good enough to bump up to a 4. The ending, in the present timeline, didn’t thrill me. I found the past bits much more interesting. The narration was above decent and kept me in the story, even during the slow bits.
Profile Image for Julie.
62 reviews
February 1, 2013
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 different experiences, and yet each one ends with you making the exact same mistake? That's hard to believe, given the setup was exactly the same each time."

Ultimately, The Witch's Daughter lacked imagination. Believability of event transitions was weak. Characters were oversimplified. Internal plot variations were anything but varied. I don't recommend this book.
Profile Image for Lolly K Dandeneau.
1,845 reviews231 followers
January 18, 2011
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. Would a darker turn have salvaged this novel? I doubt it, but it would have been a lot more fun. I found myself not caring what happened to Bess, nor her boring teenage apprentice, who seemed more like a shadow of a teenager. How was I supposed to believe any man, especially a warlock, would chase this boring woman through time? I must have been spoiled by my years of reading Alice Hoffman's novels, meaty stories full of magic and life where this one was more of a bleached bone. Or did I just miss something? You be the judge. This story was just not for me.
Profile Image for Amanda Hupe.
953 reviews58 followers
September 9, 2019
I just had the most lovely weekend lost in time. I participated in the Page Promise Read-A-Thon and I decided to have a Paula Brackston weekend. The first book I read is The Witch’s Daughter. This book introduces Elizabeth Hawksmith, a young girl who lives with her family in the year 1628. When a plague hits the village, her family is destroyed. However, the plague is not the worst to come through the village. A witchfinder comes to town and her mother pays the ultimate sacrifice for her. In order to escape, she flees to Gideon who is a warlock. Not knowing the evil that is inside him, she becomes a student of the Craft. The powers would slow down her aging process. Three hundred and eighty-four years later, she has settled in a quiet town, when she meets a young girl named Tegan who shows interest and promise in the Craft. However, just because Tegan shows interest doesn’t mean she knows the danger that follows.

This book will transport readers to key moments throughout time. I loved the mix of historical fiction and fantasy. When she mentioned the Victorian era and White Chapel, I almost lost my mind. I knew exactly what event would take place…the Jack the Ripper murders. Also, I will never listen to Greensleeves the same way again! It is just the little details that made this book as a whole so special. The characters are also superb! Elizabeth shows strength and wisdom and a passion for healing and shows how beautiful Witchcraft is. I did not like that Gideon was a Satan worshipper, I feel that it does a disservice to who practice Wicca or Witchcraft. It is a common misconception that promotes stigma and stereotype. But I do understand that the author had to make him evil. Tegan is a complex character. I love her development. Since she is a teenager when she meets Elizabeth, she often goes through the want of acceptance and wants to find love, even though she does that blindly. Elizabeth and Tegan’s relationship make the book worthwhile and is extremely heartwarming.

The pace I found flowed smoothly even with the time period changes. The author excels at giving the novel a magical aesthetic and I often felt transported. Overall, I rate this book 5 out of 5 stars. I would definitely recommend this book to those who love fantasy and historical fiction.
Profile Image for Erica.
1,327 reviews435 followers
October 24, 2017
Before I start, can someone explain this cover to me? What's with those shoes? I don't understand the shoes. They have nothing to do with the story and they look like 5-inch heeled booties. Well, not booties, whatever the next size up is called. Anyway in what time period did Bess/Eliza/Elise/Elizabeth wear 5-inch booties on a daily basis? Please explain to me the meaning of this cover! It's bothering me to no end!

So I started this and was madly in love by the end of the first chapter. It was exactly the witchy kind of book I eat up like Cookie Monster nomming chocolate chip cookies. I could not get enough.

The writing was enchanting, the story solid, the characters interesting, the plot fascinating, I loved it all. I even enjoyed the present day Elizabeth telling her backstory; in fact, I loved present day Elizabeth's little town and her garden and her stall in the marketplace and her unlikely friendship with a lonely girl from down the road.

But then I started to feel that maybe Elizabeth wasn't the sharpest spoon in the drawer. It was somewhere during her second story that I began to wonder how she kept getting tricked even though she'd lived, like, 200 years. By her third story, I was done with her. I mean, I've only lived 45 years and have not been chased around the globe by some demonic psychopath for the majority of my life and even I could see the ridiculous trap that was once again being laid for our dimwitted little witch. How did she just blunder into that...again? Present day Elizabeth seems to have her act a little more together, though she's still rather slow on the uptake when, really, she should have figured out what was going on way before I did.

By the end, the glamour had fallen away to reveal a solid story that had turned wobbly, like an apple that looks good but the backside it all rotten and squishy. I enjoyed a good 2/3 of it but was vastly irritated by that last 1/3. Had I read it, I would have been less inclined to give it more than 2 stars but the narrator for this is phenomenal and carried me through that last bit when I'd have faltered on my own.

I'm still going to read the rest of the series, although I can't find the next one on audio so I might skip it for now - it's about a different witch, anyhow - and go onto the 3rd or maybe straight to the 4th which looks like it picks up where this one left off.

Absolutely NOT recommended for Debbie.
Profile Image for Kerry.
554 reviews61 followers
June 8, 2017
This is the second book in the Shadow Chronicles series, however I feel both books stand alone and actually show no link in the storylines. I was a bit disappointed by this but enjoyed both books nonetheless.
This book had two separate narratives taking place throughout. One in the present day and in the form of entries into a Book of Shadows by Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith. The other is her memories as she tells her story of her lives throughout time whilst being pursued by a dangerous Warlock. She is sharing these tales with a young girl who comes into her life and who she decides to teach the ways of the hedgewitch.
I preferred the stories of her adventures through time to the book entries but enjoyed the story as a whole. It worked together well and all flowed into an exciting and thrilling ending when both worlds collide.
Profile Image for Racysteed.
88 reviews
February 18, 2013
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 story by either wrapping up each plot point a bit conveniently while alluding to struggles that the reader doesn't experience firsthand. I feel compelled to add *****spoiler alert*****
that if another author feels the need to connect her/his story to an historical moment - especially Jack the Ripper - I may need to call upon the Dark Arts myself. It shows a lack of imagination and is lazy. This book would have been much better if it had skipped that interlude and concentrated on the other relationships. I'm to believe that an all-powerful being, pursuing another supernatural, would think that gruesome murders will strengthen his appeal? Try again, Ms. Brackston. You can do better.
Profile Image for BAM the enigma.
1,849 reviews360 followers
March 29, 2017
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
Profile Image for Dena McMurdie.
Author 2 books133 followers
February 10, 2015
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 historical flashbacks throughout the centuries. The story flowed easily and I always looked for excuses to read it. I'm excited to read The Winter Witch now.

Content: Sex, including two instances of rape, violence, and some language (no f-words). The sexual encounters were either non-descriptive or lasted for a sentence or two.

My blog: Batch of Books
Profile Image for Paula.
6 reviews
September 17, 2012
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 repetitive and has a Twilight sense about it. There is a plague which destroys her family, she conceals her powers by becoming involved in the medical profession and, of course,a tragic love story.The writing was cumbersome and the narration was distant. The plot suffers from predictability when her relentless pursuer surfaces in each of the histories always introduced by an unsettling feeling and the song Greensleeves. The story really suffered from cliches with a Jack the Ripper story line and a WWII story line where she meets a the soldier, falls in love with him when he reveals himself to be some sort of medium and then tragically loses. The diary entries were forced and hard to read and I found the young apprentice character to be under developed and another cliche. The best part of the story for me was the first history of her childhood and the events leading to her becoming a witch. The end is predictable in that there's a showy supernatural showdown but it is disappointingly told from a new point of view.
Profile Image for Aleshanee.
1,411 reviews97 followers
May 9, 2019
Durch das Cover hatte es mich erstmal ehrlich gesagt nicht wirklich angesprochen - die Katze finde ich total unpassend, denn es wirkt dadurch eher wie ein Jugendbuch auf mich, dass zwar magisch angehaucht ist aber eher eine leichte Unterhaltung bietet. Doch das täuscht!

Schon zu Beginn erfährt man im Prolog, dass Elizabeth "Bess" flüchten muss. Weshalb kann man sich bei dem Thema Hexen natürlich denken, doch es wird alles noch sehr offen gelassen.
Dann kommt ein großer Sprung ins Jahr 2007, in dem Elizabeth mit ihren 384 Jahren in einem Dorf ein Häuschen anmietet. Man spürt, dass sie sich über die Jahrhunderte an ihr Einsiedlerdasein gewöhnt hat und ihr Leben sehr gut anpasst. Trotzdem führt sie ihre Heilkunde fort, indem sie Salben, Öle und Räucherwerk auf den Märkten verkauft, die sie selber aus ihrem Kräutergarten herstellt. Aber man merkt auch, dass sie sich nicht wirklich sicher fühlt, denn etwas oder jemand scheint sie zu verfolgen.

Die Ausschnitte in der Gegenwart erlebt man durch Tagebucheinträge von Bess aus der Ich-Perspektive. Sie sind geprägt durch die Jahreszeiten und Gartenarbeiten, denn sie lebt mit den kleinen Riten zu den Feiertagen der Hexen und pflegt ihre Gabe der Heilkunde. Doch das ist nur der Rahmen, der ihrem Leben einen Sinn gibt, denn es entwickelt sich eine Beziehung zu einem anderen Menschen, was sie für sehr lange Zeit aus Angst unterdrückt hatte. Das lässt sie dann auch zurückblicken in drei einschneidende Erlebnisse aus den letzten Jahrhunderten:

Zum einen ins Jahr 1627, als alles in dem kleinen Dörfchen Batchcombe seinen Anfang nahm und Bess´ Leben durch zahlreiche Schicksalsschläge für immer verändert wurde.
In der nächsten Etappe begleiten wir sie nach London ins Jahr 1888 zur Zeit des Rippers, in der sie einen Weg gefunden hat, ihre Kräfte für die Menschen positiv einzusetzen.
Der letzte Rückblick geht ins Jahr 1917 in die Kriegswirren nach Flandern, in dem sie sich bemüht, ihr gutes Werk weiterzuführen.

Diesen positiven Aspekt der Magie, die Fähigkeit Gutes zu Wirken und zu Heilen, versucht sie immer wieder auf unterschiedlichem Weg zu realisieren, was gar nicht so einfach ist, wenn er unentdeckt bleiben soll.
Dabei wirkt das ganze eher wie ein historischer Roman, denn die magischen Elemente sind anfangs nur wenig spürbar, ziehen sich aber durch die ganze Geschichte und haben eine latente, aber intensive Präsenz. Das Tempo ist dabei eher langsam und mit viel Liebe zum Detail, darauf sollte man sich einstellen, denn dann kann man es so richtig genießen. Auch besticht die Atmosphäre mit einem authentischen Rahmen und einer fesselnden Eindringlichkeit, durch die ich mich der Protagonistin immer sehr nahe gefühlt habe.

Was mich auch sehr beeindruckt hat war das Ungewisse: zum einen ist der Ausgang komplett offen, welches Ende es nehmen wird, aber auch die einzelnen Abschnitte haben überrascht durch die verschiedenen Epochen und Schauplätze und welche Begegnungen hier ihr Leben geprägt haben.

Insgesamt ein großartiges Leseerlebnis für mich durch den Ausflug in verschiedene Zeitalter und dem geheimen Leben und Wirken einer Hexe, die bis in die heutige Gegenwart andauert. Die Auflösung am Ende ist absolut gelungen - es ist ein Abschluss, auch wenn Möglichkeiten zur Fortsetzung bestehen. Im englischen Original ist ja auch 2016 ein zweiter Teil erschienen, 8 Jahre nach der Erstveröffentlichung.

Fazit: 4.5 Sterne

© Aleshanee
Profile Image for Deanna Lynn Sletten.
Author 29 books534 followers
February 16, 2013
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 her mother. She has two choices—let the mob kill her or run away with Gideon and be drawn into the world of dark magic. She chooses neither which leaves her running away for centuries from the one man who can take her down to the depths of hell.

The Witch's Daughter is a truly amazing novel from the first page to the last. Not only does it bring you into the life a magic, but is also filled with descriptive settings from different times in history. From the simple yet superstitious days of the 1600s to the war-torn English landscape during World War I and on to a quiet town in England in present day where natural healing is considered in vogue, you experience it all through Bess' eyes. Ms. Brackston is a talented storyteller and wordsmith. Her lovely writing style draws the reader in and lulls them through the story. You don't just read this novel—you experience it. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys fantasy at its best and loves reading the work of an artist in command of the English language.
Profile Image for Erin Arkin.
1,662 reviews355 followers
March 11, 2013
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.
10 reviews
January 16, 2021
Enthralling story

This book was so rich in language and lore. I love books that make you feel like you are wrapped in a warm blanket and that you are coming home.
Profile Image for Mimi.
694 reviews190 followers
October 18, 2018
Changed my mind. Not rounding up. But still interested in exploring Paula Brackston's other witchy books.

* * * * *

2.5 stars, rounding up because I did like a good chunk of it before the rest of it wore me out.

While I liked Paula Brackston's writing and her takes on the history of witches and modern hedge witches, I felt the book went on for too long, far past the point it should have stopped, and so things (particularly the plot and characters) got a bit boring and I lost interest. But I'm still interested in picking up Brackston's other books, which seem to be all about witches, which is my new thing apparently. Witchy women of past and present are my new niche.

All in all though, this was a good book to read for autumn, at the end of September, to get you in the seasonal mood for October and Halloween.
Profile Image for Erica.
134 reviews
March 1, 2016
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 accomplished with it. But she could never expect all of the dark forces, brutal harm and death to those around her, or the misery and pain that has befallen her throughout the centuries. The book goes through a number of stories Elizabeth decides to tell Tegan, to trust her with the knowledge of these stories of these people, their hardships and magical adventures, and hope that when the time is right she would come to realize just how close to home these stories are, that they are not fairy tales.
Only a few things, as a young Wiccan myself would I have altered. A few details that were difficult to retain knowing our beliefs and how there were just a couple things that didn't seem to match. Ever present as these details were, did not hinder my enjoyment of the book whatsoever.
A very beautifully written novel with much detail in some of the wonderous things we as witches see when unfortunately others do not see. Reading this, I could feel the wind through the old trees. I could practically smell myself the scent of the healing herbs and oils, the force of the bright sun on my face as it hit hers, and the warmth and peace of her garden.
Not all books can be perfect, but this is one I'd recommend to any true witch looking for a good story, one filled with romance, danger and suspense, true magick and excitement. And a bold story of good versus evil. This is a story I will not forget and will keep close to my heart.
Profile Image for Mary.
627 reviews
March 18, 2014
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 war torn Passchendaele, I was ready for the story to end. Repetitous, predictable, and just dumb at times. Bess, you were supposedly a strong and powerful witch, how could you not figure out who Gideon was when even I, a mere mortal did every time? The happy point for me was when the book ended, and the little white mouse was ok. That was it. I so wanted to love this book, but I didn't. I didn't even like it.
Profile Image for Helen.
877 reviews2 followers
September 7, 2017
I had this on audible and the narrator was very easy to listen to.

It started well but I felt it was somewhat drawn out. This could be due to my previous audio being witchy. I also watched something on the theme so perhaps badly timed. I will read/listen to more.
Profile Image for Nancy Nettle.
149 reviews
April 7, 2020
This book was excellent. The twists and turns really kept you on your toes. I would definitely recommend this to those of you who like this genre. :)
January 10, 2022
Two small dogs on a fluffy blanket with a softcover book between them.

📚 Hello Book Friends! THE WITCH’S DAUGHTER is the first book in the Series by the same name. I am a big fan of Paula Brackston’s books and have been reading and loving another of her series. I love her writing and her character development. I also love how she maneuvers present and past timelines to build a strong story. This book is no exception. Ms. Brackston also succeeded to infuse true events in the story, rendering it more interesting. I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series in the next few weeks.

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Profile Image for Latasha.
1,282 reviews368 followers
February 18, 2023
This was a really good witchy tale of one woman's many lives. It was going great and I thought this would be a nice folksy tale then BAM! Satan! I didn't bother me, though. I would read more by this author based on this book.
Profile Image for Branwen Sedai *of the Brown Ajah*.
983 reviews168 followers
February 9, 2013
I'm...really torn about this book.

I was really impressed with it for the first 150 pages or so. The story starts with Elizabeth, an immortal witch who has just moved to a beautiful pastoral town in England. The setting and descriptions of the scenery and landscape are jsut absolutely gorgeous. The story starts out in the present, but then goes back and forth a bit for Elizabeth to recollect the different places and time periods in which she lived. Critical to her past, is her mentor Gideon, who is pure evil.

This is where my problems with the book begin. I'm a witch myself, (have been for over ten years now) and unfortunately I can be hypersensitive to innacuracies that portray my spirituality. First of all...Gideon is a rapist and a murderer. Seriously. Elizabeth literally catches him raping a gypsy girl in the woods and then uses his powers to make her forget that it happened. WHAT. And then he has this crazy bonfire ritualy thing where there are all kinds of crazy ass demons and satan and random fornication. WHAT. This really pissed me off because it seemed that the author was assuming that good witches worship the goddess and bad witches worship satan. FALSE! No witch worships satan because witches do not believe in satan! Satanists worship satan! END OF STORY! Look, I know that this was probably done to make the story more exciting/interesting and that after all, this IS a fantasy story and I shouldn't really get hung up on stuff like this...but that's how I feel about it.

After that, I lost alot of interest in the story, but I did finish it, because I don't like to leave books unfinished and after all, the writing itself WAS very good.

Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 24 books4,083 followers
September 22, 2016
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 interesting character named Gideon--who is a warlock. Warlocks are good! Especially handsome, scary ones!
After the exciting conclusion to that story, we move on to the next story in Bess' tale. The one where Bess is a nurse in London and the story intermingles with the story of Jack the Ripper! Serial Killers are exciting!
But then, somewhere near the end of this tale, the author lost me.
Something seemed off about the story and I couldn't put my finger on it.
The conclusion of this story was just a big disappointment. I really disliked the last story of Bess' life when she's a wartime nurse.
I started disbelieving in the story and I finally put my finger on what I didn't like about the protagonist: She never changed. She has lived hundreds of years but she sounded the same from one chapter of her life to the next. She doesn't seem wiser or different-but totally the same. It felt dishonest. I also didn't like any of the descriptions of magic. The author doesn't know how to describe magic in a realistic way. It was almost silly towards the end.
So, I'm a little disappointed because I really enjoyed it at first.
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