From Publishers Weekly
This pleasantly romantic historical fantasy debut flips lightly between the past experiences of ageless witch Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith and her present-day life in Matravers, England. After a plague kills young Elizabeth's father and siblings in 1627 Wessex, her mother, a gifted healer, seeks help from ruthless warlock Gideon Masters. He exacts a high price, and Bess survives only to be accused of witchery along with her mother, who is captured and hanged while Bess escapes and begins her new life of immortal solitude. Fast-forward to 2007, when Elizabeth trains teenage Tegan to be a hedge witch and shares stories about Gideon, meeting Jack the Ripper while ministering to the Whitehall prostitutes in 1888, and serving as a nurse in 1917 Flanders. Bess's past adventures are fascinating, but there's a sketchy quality to the contemporary sections that diminishes the effect of the grand finale. (Jan.) (c)
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After nearly four centuries of life on earth, Elizabeth Hardwick settles in a small English village where, always wary of danger, she befriends lonely teenager Tegan and gradually tells the story of her life. Left alone in 1628 after her father, brother, and sister die of the plague, and her mother is hanged for witchcraft, 15-year-old Bess seeks shelter from warlock Gideon Masters, who trains her in magic and wants her for his eternal soul mate. Bess escapes both the witch finder’s noose and Gideon, but he continues to search for her when she’s Dr. Eliza Hardwick in London in 1888 and Nurse Elise Hardwick in Flanders in 1917. Each time, Gideon takes human form and another anagrammatic name to lure her as she works only to heal, and he leaves the bodies of innocents in his wake. In 2007 Gideon reappears, predictably finding a chink in Elizabeth’s defenses as she makes Tegan her disciple. Brackston’s first novel offers well-crafted characters in an absorbing plot and an altogether delicious blend of historical fiction and fantasy. --Michele Leber