The Silver Witch (Shadow Chronicles) by Paula Brackston
|The Silver Witch (Shadow Chronicles) by Paula Brackston|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: Paula Brackston's trademark supernatural/romance recipe signals another satisfying book in the Shadow Chronicles series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: December 2015|
|External links: Author's website|
Ceramic artist Tilda moves to the house she and her husband envisaged their lives together in the wilds of Wales. Unfortunately, due to his tragic death a year ago, Tilda must move in alone and build a different life. In the same location a thousand years earlier Seren serves Prince Hywell as his village's seer and shaman. Life isn't easy for her either. She has enemies, some a lot closer than the traditional threat from the Anglo Saxons. Although centuries apart these two women's lives will come together with connotations for all who love them and a deadly force that could go beyond that.
British author Paula Brackston brings another Shadow Chronicles novel missing romance and magical mysticism. It works as a stand-alone but its position in the series is a bit confusing in Amazon world due to the numbering. Amazon lists it as Book 3, the same number they ascribe to the previous (and not as good) The Midnight Witch. Anyway, in the end this doesn't matter – the important thing is what it's like and it's rather excellent!
Paula takes us back to the Wales of Book 1, The Winter Witch but this time mingles Celtic history with modern day and a dash of fantasy. Where the history is concerned, we meet Welsh Prince Hywell and hear of the Saxon Queen Aethelfed of Mercia (Alfred the Great's daughter). Although there are moments of literary licence in the history, there's also a dose of authenticity surrounding living conditions and belief systems.
The story reveals itself via point of view chapters that alternate between third person narrative Tilda and first person Seren, cleverly drip feeding us with breadcrumbs of revelation which keep us riveted. Then the intrigue is overtaken by tense excitement and that show piece archaeological dig. (No spoilers!) The admiration doesn't stop there though; extracting the prologue from where it appears in full within the novel is a clever touch. (Sorry to sound so mysterious but you'll-see-when-you-get-there moment.)
Tilda and Seren are both different but equally enthralling. There's more to Tilda's life than even she realises since the aftermath of her husband's death has forced her to face a lot of her past fears. While the major problem for Seren is staying on the right side of the witch/shaman divide. In the 10th century witchcraft meant death whereas every tribe needs a shaman/seer, although some would say otherwise.
These women are the dual stars of the piece, demonstrated by being the only two characters who are totally fleshed out. Having said that, it's not a criticism as the story is definitely strong enough to support this and the bit players do have their charms. I personally loved the endearing professor and, of course, Dylan the diver (no, not a euphemism!), the probable reason why the story is set a year after Tilda was made a widow.
There are moments that we don't have to be seers to foretell. However, rather than spoil the story, these occasional drifts towards predictability contrast with the shocks to give us a comfy cushion, especially when the shocks become a little scary.
For anyone new to Paula's work, this is an ideal starting point. For those of us who after this instalment don't need to be convinced, Book 5 (or 4!) in the series is out soon. Return of the Witch will be a sequel to The Witch's Daughter so consider my breath held in anticipation!
(Thank you, Corsair, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you'd like to read more from Paula Brackston, try The Midnight Witch. If you prefer your fantasy with a touch more Celtic mist, we highly recommend The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper.
You could get a free audio download of The Silver Witch (Shadow Chronicles) by Paula Brackston with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Silver Witch (Shadow Chronicles) by Paula Brackston at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Silver Witch (Shadow Chronicles) by Paula Brackston at Amazon.com.
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