Brittany, 1741, the Romani clan Orchiere has not produced a witch in generations, and make their living telling fake fortunes, amongst other things. As Ursule comes of age, she finds that the spark of magic is alive in her, in the whispers of her ancestors and an old family grimoire. Forging her own path, she tries out stay out of the clutches of those who love to burn witches and outsiders, making some hard choices along the way.
This book is a prequel to A Secret History of Witches, but it can be read as a standalone novel. The author lets us know at the start of the book that she was inspired to write Ursule’s story after people who read Secret History wrote asking about this character and her story, which I think is really nice. I have read A Secret History of Witches, and it sits on my shelf of books that are all witchy fiction, so I was very happy to welcome this book into my reading list.
This story takes the same style and tone as the previous one. Morgan writes in a down to earth way, and I find her plotting a little slow, but it’s nice to sink into her books and not be in a rush. It’s not a thriller or a mystery, for example. While the magic is an important part of this story (and all witchy books) it’s more a force of nature or subtle power than in high fantasy. It’s a power that also brings danger. The book is written from Ursules point of view for the whole book, and follows her from late childhood to adulthood. As she grows up and comes into her power, her magic grows and she comes into her own. The book is in parts, so it sometimes jumps ahead in time as she goes from a child to a woman, a mother, a grandmother.
There can be something a little flat about Louisa Morgan’s writing and sometimes she can feel a little hard to get into for me. That’s the case here a little bit. I enjoyed this book on the whole, I liked Ursule and remembered her strongly from the first book (I won’t tell you why, spoilers). Some of the side characters didn’t feel vibrant to me. But I loved the setting and the world Ursule lives in, and it hit the spot for me as a book about witches. Ursules story is a winding one, with magic, danger, and the sacrifices she has to make to the become a matriarch and to survive.
Read It If: you like low fantasy, historical fiction, or witchy reads. A great prequel that will satisfy fans.
Thank you to the publisher for the copy of this book for review.