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Witch Child by Celia Rees

Witch Child (2000)

by Celia Rees

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Witch Child (1)

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
This was such an interesting book and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel "Sorceress". It is written in diary form, the diary pages secreted away inside a quilt sewn by the author and discovered much later. The diary is written by Mary, who, at the beginning of the story is living with a woman she calls her grandmother. Her grandmother is accused of being a witch and during her execution, Mary is whisked away by a wealthy stranger. Mary discovers she has a connection to this stranger, but she can't stay with her. The plan is to send her across the sea to the new colonies being formed by Puritans escaping persecution in England. Life is not easy in the new colony, but Mary makes friends with an elderly healer named Martha, and several others in the new community. The pious minister of the community is suspicious of Mary and often preaches against witchcraft. After several girls in the community start behaving strangely, an "expert" is called upon to determine whether the behavior is the result of witchcraft. The "expert" turns out to be the same one who condemned Mary's grandmother to death, and he recognizes Mary right away. The book has a surprise ending (of sorts), and although the story does not really resolve, there are some conclusions that can be drawn. Throughout the story, Mary admits to being a witch and does seem to have some interesting powers, but her persecution feels so very sad. ( )
  daatwood | Nov 21, 2013 |
Other than thinking it a good book, I wish to mention that of the wonders that Elias Cornwell is writing about in chapter 72, the invisible drummer boys may refer to the 'Reports of cannon and rifle shots and beating of drums in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire were widespread in 1658, two years before the Tedworth trouble.' [from the 'Drummer of Tedworth' entry in The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology by Rossell Hope Robbins. My copy is the 1981 edition published by Crown Publishers, Inc. ISBN 0-517-362457. I note that it's a book about witchcraft trials and is not for the squeamish.

Thank you, Ms. Rees, for having Mary fear hanging, not burning. According to the same Robbins encyclopedia's entry on witchcraft in England, witches were not burned in that country, unlike Scotland or the European continent. There's even a list of penalties for witchcraft from 1543 - 1736. Burning was for treason. Witches were hanged. Salem followed the English practice, although Giles Corey was pressed to death. ( )
  JalenV | Nov 9, 2013 |
Despite the very mixed reviews on Goodreads, I found this book gripping, entertaining anda real page turner. Firstly, I was immediately drawn in by the cover. Usually I prefer books with illustrated covers, but I found that the photograph on this and the sepia tones really reflect the feel and atmostphere of the book.

With regards to the premise and the style of writing, this book contains diary entries written by Mary, the granddaughter of a witch, around 1659-1660. It is regarded as a children's book, being shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction prize in 2001, but I think it would definitely be suitable for a teenage or even adult audience also. As this book is not a work of fiction, more passages from an irregularly kept diary dating back from the colonial period, more commonly known as 'the Mary papers', I found some of the chapters very emotional and thought-provoking, as I knew they were based on reality.

I am finding it difficult to write a review for this book, as I honestly cannot fault it in any way. I loved the simplistic yet poetic writing style, the story that this girl lived and also the characters that she met along the way. 'Witch Child' by Celia Rees is a definite 5 out of 5 stars for me, and I would thoroughly recommend it to readers of any age, as I think it gives an important lesson in the superstitions and cruelties of human nature, and is a beautiful quick read. ( )
  charlottejones952 | Sep 2, 2013 |
I rather liked this little story. It's well told and I felt more gripped by the fact it was written in journal format, slowly unfolded, and dates uncertain, as though we were walking in the hazy shadows of memory where only certain seconds were pulled into startling clarity.

I was very taken with Mary, the not-quite a Witch by choice, except in name and stricken requests, who had become a Puritan by no means of her own. I cannot wait to see what book two has in store for me once I get my hands on it. ( )
  wanderlustlover | Jul 24, 2013 |
I don't think I was really in the mood for this. It's a fairly straightforward historical fiction, with a fairly standard frame story of a found diary type deal. It's very easy to read; definitely aimed at young adults, if not at kids. Probably that's part of it -- it was so easy there was nothing to hold onto. The set-up is interesting enough, and for what it is, it's well-written, but there wasn't enough substance for me. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Celia Reesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eriksson, MonaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mustain, WolfgangCover photographsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I am Mary. I am a witch.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
When Mary sees her grandmother accused of witchcraft and hanged for the crime, she is silently hurried to safety by an unknown woman. The woman gives her tools to keep the record of her days - paper and ink. Mary is taken to a boat in Plymouth and from there sails to the New World where she hopes to make a new life among the pilgrims. But old superstitions die hard and soon Mary finds that she, like her grandmother, is the victim of ignorance and stupidity, and once more she faces important choices to ensure her survival. With a vividly evoked environment and characters skilfully and patiently drawn, this is a powerful literary achievement by Celia Rees that is utterly engrossing from start to finish.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0763618292, Paperback)

During the witch hunts of the mid-1600s, many young Englishwomen died on the gallows, innocent victims of false or hysterical accusations of witchcraft. But what of those women who actually claimed the name "witch" as their own? In the pages of her secret journal, Mary Nuttall reveals what it is like to live in a climate of mistrust and piety in which differences are dangerous and rumors can kill, where she must hide her heritage as a healer and pagan. With a sure hand, she describes her beloved grandmother's trial and hanging as a witch, her own rescue by a mysterious noblewoman, and her eventual passage to the New World and the forest settlement of Beulah. There Mary falls under a curtain of suspicion when she willingly chooses to explore the dark woods shunned by the fearful colonists and makes friends with some of the spiritual native people. When several girls in the community begin to shriek and swoon, and the same minister who damned Mary's grandmother comes to search for signs of witchcraft, Mary is subjected to close and deadly scrutiny.

Breaking with most historical fiction about witchcraft (such as Elizabeth Speare's The Witch of Blackbird Pond), British author Celia Rees raises the stakes and the tension by placing a real witch at the center of her story. Witch Child is an engrossing, suspenseful novel that will cast a spell over both readers of historical fiction and fans of witchcraft series from Circle of Three to Sweep. --Jennifer Hubert

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:43 -0400)

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In 1659, fourteen-year-old Mary Newbury keeps a journal of her voyage from England to the New World and her experiences living as a witch in a community of Puritans near Salem, Massachusetts.

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