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Book Review

Book Review: ‘Witch Child’ by Celia Rees

Another fabulous charity shop find. Written for the children’s market I believe and with so much history and depth that it’s currently also on school curriculum reading lists.  I’d have relished such a read as a pupil.

The first page of ‘Witch Child’ tells us:

The following manuscript is made up from a remarkable collection of documents termed ‘The Mary Papers’.  Found hidden inside a quilt dating from the Colonial period, the papers seem to take the form of an irregularly kept journal or diary.  All dates are guesswork, based on references within the text.  The first entries are tenatively dated from March 1659.  I have altered the original as little as possible, but punctuation, parahraphing and spellings have been standardised for the modern reader.

Alison Ellman – Boston, Mass.

And I took this introduction to be gospel this until I got midway through the first quarter and realised how beautifully written and how engaging the story is –  it’s a story, of course it is.  Get a grip, woman 😉

And yet these times happened. They are in the fabric of our social history.

The story of Mary and her troubled beginnings, the monumental journey across seas from the only land she has known to uncharted territory as a lone girl of fifteen is staggeringly well described from the personal hygiene of the times, right down to the smell of the tallest trees Mary has ever seen in her short life when she arrives in a mostly uninhabited America.

The small-town insinuations and (to us, now) ridiculous religious ideals made me worry for Mary the whole way through, and it was fascinating to realise that fanatical murmurings from the 17th Century are still pretty prevalent in today’s world. In some quarters.

I felt like I’d gone on Mary’s journey right alongside her. I was swept away and thrown about in a dirty, hungry mess on the boat,; angry, frustrated and delighted at the sights and sounds and natives of the new country, and I was bated with fear at the petty-minded injustices of the world we have always lived in.

9/10  A beautiful, ugly portrait of our historical selves.


About debscooper

I read, I write, I tweet, I blog and I avoid housework whenever I can.


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