Mitch's Reviews > Witchstruck

Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
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's review
Jul 05, 2012

really liked it
Read on July 05, 2012

Witchstruck kinda skates by on the strength of its premise: what if Queen Elizabeth I, while still princess and imprisoned by her sister Queen Mary, had a witch for a maid? If that sounds fascinating, this book doesn't disappoint; even though it's alternate history, there's plenty of real stuff to back things up. But it does require just accepting certain things for the plot to work, and while I had no problems doing it, I'll admit this is probably not a book for everyone.

Anyway, Meg, the witch slash maid, is definitely an interesting character, trying to balance her duties to Elizabeth - who's very curious about magic and figuring out if she'll ever be Queen - and her own magical heritage with the consequences of getting caught. But she's really inconsistent, like she says at one point a thorough search of the palace would turn up her athame and expose her as a witch, then she's surprised when her dagger's found cause she thought she hid it so well. But more importantly, she doesn't have a consistent outlook on being a witch, at times she almost buys the standard belief that she's going to hell for being a witch, other times she thinks her magic is a gift from God that should be used for good. I mean, I get she's a novice witch and unsure of herself, but I really wish her changing beliefs felt like a transformation rather than like she keeps changing her mind. As it is, I know where she stands on witchcraft in the end, but I have only the vaguest idea how she got there. Not the best character development.

Likewise, the other characters are really hard to nail down. Alejandro, the priest in training who Meg at first fears of exposing and condemning her, well he doesn't, and while his reasons are explained, his attitudes toward witchcraft and how they may conflict with his own beliefs, they're not really explained, kinda abandoned for romance. And Marcus Dent the witch hunter and Elizabeth herself, well they're more interested in playing politics, or personal vendettas in Dent's case, than actually finding witches. After all, Meg does some very suspicious things at first, obviously marking her as a witch, and it's only later that there are any real repercussions for her. And the whole thing left me a little suspicious of Elizabeth, how can she tolerate Meg's witchcraft to the extent she eventually does if she lives in constant fear of her sister Mary? If Mary got even a whiff of the witchcraft allegations, from anybody, Elizabeth would've been done for. Strange.

But what distracted me from these issues was how briskly the plot moved along. I'm glad the entire book isn't just Meg hiding in the shadows practicing her craft in constant fear of getting caught, but instead she has to deal with the consequences of being a witch very early on. Along the way, she says a lot about what it means to be accused of witchcraft in sixteenth century England. And while she doesn't really find herself, she does come to terms with her gift and grows as a character along the way. And best of all, the entire story happens with a very interesting time in English history as the backdrop, and a lot of the Elizabeth versus Mary, Protestant versus Catholic, England versus Spain politics of the times shines through, directly affects the story.

I really liked this book, even if there are things about the plot I just had to buy, holes I had to fill in, like Meg being a little too good with magic towards the end and solving all her problems rather conveniently. But Witchstruck offers an interesting glimpse into a fascinating period in English history and I have to say I enjoyed it.
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message 1: by Melissa (new)

Melissa you finished it!!

Mitch yeah I did :p

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