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Witch Child Library Binding – July 13, 2001

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Series: Witch Child
  • Library Binding: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1st Candlewick Press ed edition (July 13, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763614211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763614218
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,352,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

From Publishers Weekly

Though much of Rees's debut novel moves at a lackadaisical pace, its opening scenes are riveting: Mary, 14, watches as her grandmother the only family she has ever known is tortured, tried and finally hung as a witch. Afterward, a mysterious protector sends Mary away from England with a group of Puritans bound for a remote Massachusetts settlement an odd haven indeed for a girl reputed to be a witch. The book unfolds through Mary's diary entries. She tries to be "the perfect little Puritan maid" during the voyage and, upon reaching America, travels with her fellow passengers to a new settlement. But there Mary is drawn to the forest and a Native American boy, Jaybird (grandson of an elder who is, of course, a wise healer), raising the suspicions of her neighbors. Crisis looms when Mary becomes the scapegoat of a witch trial centering on the hysterical behavior of a gaggle of privileged Puritan girls (shades of The Crucible). Though the story is filled with authentic-seeming historic detail, Mary behaves more like a 21st-century teenager with a penchant for things New Age than a product of her own era: she is, for example, one of the only settlers enlightened enough to appreciate the local Native Americans ("The Indians go lightly in the world, that is all"). An afterword provides links to a Web site, as well as a request for "information regarding any of the individuals and families mentioned." A sequel is forthcoming. Hampered by wandering story lines and some stereotyped supporting cast members, this seductive material never quite comes together. Nevertheless, it will likely attract teen horror fans who flocked to The Blair Witch Project (a "foreword" hints at similar trappings, claiming that the story has been pieced together from a collection of papers found sewn into a colonial-era quilt). Ages 12-up.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Celia Rees was born in Solihull, West Midlands, UK. She studied History and Politics at Warwick University and then went on to teach English in city comprehensive schools for seventeen years. She now divides her time between writing, talking to readers in schools and libraries, and teaching creative writing.

She has written many books for older children and teenagers, and has become a leading writer for Young Adults with an international reputation. Her books have been translated into 28 languages and she has been short listed for the Guardian, Whitbread and W.H. Smith Children's Book Awards, as well as numerous regional awards in the UK and America. Witch Child won the prestigious Prix Sorcières in France in 2003, and the Di Cento Prize in Italy, 2001. Her latest book, The Fool's Girl, publishes in the U.S. in July, 2010

Celia lives in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, with her husband, Terry. Her daughter, Catrin, now lives and works in London.

To learn more about Celia and her books, visit her website at: www.celiarees.com

Customer Reviews

This is a very interesting book to read if you are young or old.
The story begins with the torture and ultimate hanging of Mary's grandmother in England for being a witch.
Morgan Lightfoot
I have read some of the other books by Celia Rees, and I have to say this one dominates them all!
Kimberly A. Hughes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Herman HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 13, 2001
Format: Library Binding
Mary was raised in a small English village by an old woman she knew as her grandmother. The year is now 1659, and Mary is fourteen. Suspicion has fallen on her grandmother, a healer, and she ends up being hung for witchcraft. Mary herself is a witch - but has never hurt anyone. She was born with powers she never asked for and does not understand. The villagers plan to turn on Mary next, but she escapes with the aid of a wealthy woman who turns out to be her mother. Her "grandmother" is not her grandmother at all, but her mother's childhood nursemaid. Her mother still will not care for her, but she does provide Mary with a ticket for a ship bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Disguising herself as a Puritan, Mary sets out. But trouble and sorrow follow her across the ocean and into the wilderness. Even in the New World, Mary's life is threatened by the powerful leaders of the community, who are prejudiced against anyone who is different. The story was told through the form of diary entries written by Mary. Since there was an open ending, I really hope there is a sequel. Over the course of the book, I came to really care about what happened to Mary, and I'd love to read about what happened to her.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on July 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book thinking it was going to be similar to The Witch of Blackbird Pond. In fifth grade, I read that book for class. While I enjoyed that book, I like this one much better. Witch Child shows you Mary's thoughts, so you feel like you are right next to Mary. Because it is in a diary form, you don't feel like you are an outsider happening to look into someone's life. Instead of knowing the thoughts of everyone, all you know is what Mary would know, and you find out information when Mary finds out. I like history, and I but what I like even better are books that don't have a textbook feeling to them, and this is definetly the latter. Celia Rees put a lot of suspense into this book, so there is never a dull moment. No one else I know has read it, but I hope that boys don't think that it is "girly", and that just because girls like it, it is dumb. This is NOT a girly book, it is a wonderful book about trying to survive during the time of the witch hunts. And, NO, witches were not always women, they were men sometimes, too.
What is the best part, I think, is that she can actually see into the future, and only a few close friends who are trying to help her know. She is struggling to keep her secret a secret, because if someone found out, she would be killed imediately.
I think that this is one of the best books ever, and I can't wait for the sequal to come out.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Gail Cooke HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 19, 2001
Format: Audio Cassette
This compelling and sometimes heartbreaking story is given an indelible reading by British actress Jennifer Ehle. A Tony Award winner for her performance in "The Real Thing, " she also appeared on Broadway with Alan Cumming in "Design For Living." Miss Ehle's expressive voice adds dramatic resonance to an already commanding narrative.
Set in 1659, "Witch Child" is the story of young Mary Newbury, the granddaughter of a witch. Mary witnesses the torture and death of her adored grandmother and fears for her future until she is offered sanctuary across the ocean in America.
However, upon arrival on these shores Mary discovers that she is among not only strangers, but people who fear and hate. She must disguise herself as a devout Puritan or imperil her life.
Celia Rees, who is described as an "aficionado of the supernatural" has recreated a time when being different was not tolerated and brought it to vivid life through the fictional diary of Mary Newbury.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Erika Soeterik on May 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
I am Mary. I am a witch.
Mary has travelled to the New World to start a new life after her old one was taken by the Witch hunters noose. Even in the New World Mary will not be safe - especially amongst the strict and forbidding folk in the new town of Beulal. Told in journal form, Mary speaks to you with her own voice - sharing her loves, her dreams, and her fears. A not to be missed novel of witch-craft, persecution - and hope.
This book is one of the best books that I have ever read that deals with witches and witchcraft. From the opening pages you are drawn into the world of Mary, a young woman who follows the old ways. Mary would be called a witch, but he powers and beliefs are stronger than that. Mary is a character that has stayed with me for a long time and the sequel "Sorceress" has been taunting me in the local book shop for the past couple of weeks and I can't wait ti read it.
This book is nothing like the popular witches in Sabrina or Charmed, it is closer to real Wicca and the thought and research that went into this novel make it one of the best witchcraft books that I have ever read. This book is best read in one sitting so that you don't spend a restless night wondering what happens to Mary next.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By CoffeeGurl HALL OF FAME on May 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
The premise of this novel seemed very interesting. And it turned out to be quite a compelling read. Witch Child is the story of a fourteen-year-old trying to escape from potential execution. Set in 1659, the secret diary of Mary Newbury reveals entries in which she witnesses the execution of her grandmother for being a witch. With the help of a strange woman, she leaves England and arrives at an American colony. Settling in isn't easy for young Mary -- and the fear of revealing her identity to the Puritans becomes overwhelming. There are various twists throughout the novel.

This novel is told in the form of an old diary that was found and published. I enjoyed this enthralling, enriching and beautiful gothic novel. Whether or not Mary was indeed a witch is a mystery and is up to the reader to decide. I for one found the backdrop of Puritan society and entries centered on witch hunts fascinating. The novel follows an untraditional pattern of plot development because everything is told in the diary entries. The historical references are also very interesting and readable. All in all, this is one of the best gothic novels I have read in a while. This isn't as good as Libba Bray's A Great and Terrible Beauty, but this one is a keeper in its own right. I cannot recommend Witch Child enough.
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