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The Winter Witch: A Novel by [Paula Brackston]
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The Winter Witch: A Novel Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,443 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“A sensitive, beautifully written account… If the Brontë sisters had penned magical realism, this would have been the result.” ―The Guardian (London)

“There's a whiff of Harry Potter in the witchy conflict--a battle between undeveloped young magical talent and old malevolence--at the heart of this sprightly tale of spells and romance, the second novel from British writer Brackston (The Witch's Daughter, 2011)…. Love of landscape and lyrical writing lend charm, but it's Brackston's full-blooded storytelling that will hook the reader.” ―Kirkus

“Brackston delivers an intimate paranormal romance that grounds its fantasy in the reality of a 19th century Welsh farm.” ―Publishers Weekly

“Paula Brackston's Winter Witch is a whimsical and mystical tale that's part romance part mystery part fantasy and all extraordinary. Her beautiful narrative moves flawlessly throughout the story… This unique novel will appeal to fans of a multitude of genres from historical to fantasy and will engage fans of all ages as well.” ―

“Lushly written with a fascinating premise and an enthralling heroine, The Witch's Daughter will linger long in memory after the last page has been savored. Highly recommended.” ―Sara Poole, author of The Borgia Betrayal, on The Witch's Daughter

“A beautifully written, brilliantly crafted page-turner that completely invests you in the lives and loves of the witch's daughter. A true reading event.” ―Melissa Senate, author of The Love Goddess' Cooking School, on The Witch's Daughter

“A lyrical and spell-binding time travel fantasy featuring an immortal witch who must summon all her powers to defeat the evil hounding her through the centuries.” ―Mary Sharratt, author of Daughters of the Witching Hill, on The Witch's Daughter

“With her first novel, author Paula Brackston conjures up a riveting tale of sorcery and time travel. By mixing feminine heroism with masculine might, Brackston successfully captivates readers with characters Bess, an immortal witch, and sinister dark lord, Gideon.... It's almost impossible not to root for the underdog in this magical twist on the classic David vs. Goliath tale. Plus, the skill with which Brackston weaves her characters through time makes this book a fascinating take on global history.” ―Marie Claire on The Witch's Daughter

“Brackston's first novel offers well-crafted characters in an absorbing plot and an altogether delicious blend of historical fiction and fantasy.” ―Booklist on The Witch's Daughter

“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... Bess's adventures are fascinating.” ―Publishers Weekly on The Witch's Daughter

“Stretching her tale over several centuries, British-based Brackston brings energy as well as commercial savvy to her saga of innocence and the dark arts…. History, time travel and fantasy combine in a solidly readable entertainment.” ―Kirkus on The Witch's Daughter

“An engaging, well-written novel that will appeal to fans of historical fiction and fantasy alike.” ―Portland Book Review on The Witch's Daughter

“Part historical romance, part modern fantasy, The Witch's Daughter is a fresh, compelling take on the magical, yet dangerous world of witches. Readers will long remember the fiercely independent heroine who survives plagues, wars, and the heartbreak of immortality to stay true to herself, and protect the protégé she comes to love.” ― on The Witch's Daughter

The Witch's Daughter is a wonderful combination of historical fiction and paranormal. Brackston's story alternates between past and present as she mixes tales of Elizabeth's early life with the present day, tying in historical events including Jack the Ripper and the horrors of WWI... Overall, a really enjoyable read.” ― on The Witch's Daughter

“Readers who enjoy historical fantasy built around an epic struggle between good and evil should enjoy this original take on the theme.” ― on The Witch's Daughter

“An enjoyable read.” ―Genre Go Round Reviews on The Witch's Daughter

“This tale spans centuries and walks the line between good and the darker side of magic. Magic and those who possess it have been feared and persecuted throughout most of human history. Find out what it is like to live for hundreds of years, mostly in solitude, and have to struggle with having the power to help people, but being afraid to use that power.” ―Affaire de Coeur on The Witch's Daughter

“Women will certainly love the independent, feisty female characters, but the narrative is wonderfully imaginative and the plot fast-moving and filled with action. This novel is highly recommended for witches and warlocks alike.” ―Historical Novel Society on The Witch's Daughter

“The combination of stories from the past and the present meld nicely, and the author adds some clever twists so the reader never knows exactly from whom the next Gideon apparition will arise. Perhaps the best twist is the ending--leaving an opening for another book, but at the same time furnishing the reader with quite a satisfactory ending.” ―The National Examiner (UK) on The Witch's Daughter

“Ambitious and thought-provoking, this book will lure you into vivid, visceral worlds where evil lurks at every turn. The beautifully crafted BOOK OF SHADOWS will be etched on my mind for a long time. What an action-packed, emotionally powerful film it would make too.” ―Sally Spedding, author of STRANGERS WAITING, on The Witch's Daughter

“An unforgettable story by a highly original new writer.” ―Rebecca Tope, author of the Cotswold crime series, on The Witch's Daughter

“...compelling and beautiful...a book to be savored. I look forward to reading more from this wonderful writer who always manages to take my breath away.” ―SF Site on Lamp Black, Wolf Grey

The Witch's Daughter is a must read for anyone who loves magic set in the real world, who craves a well-written novel with historical elements along with romance and witchcraft tied into a tension-filled plot and vivid imagery, and, of course, who seeks an escape from their own lives if only for a moment.” ―Huffington Post on The Witch's Daughter

The Winter Witch is one of the most magical and compelling novels I've ever read. A tender and exquisitely written tale, with a heroine who continues to haunt your dreams long after you close the book.” ―Karen Maitland, author of COMPANY OF LIARS

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Does the spider consider herself beautiful? When she gazes into a dewdrop, does her reflection please her? Her web is finer than the finest lace, her body a bobbin working her own whisper thread. It is the web people admire. Its delicacy, its fragile strength. But the spider, poor creature, is thought of as ugly. She repulses some. Sends others into fainting fits. And yet she is beautiful, or so it seems to me. So nimble. So deft. So perfectly fashioned for the life fate has chosen for her. Like this one, here, in my palm. See how she ponders her next step, testing the surface, this way and that, her tiny feet tickling my skin, the hairs on her body sweeping my hand as she moves. How can something so exactly suited to its surroundings, to its existence, not be deserving of our admiration? How can a form so elegant, so neat, so sleek, not be recognized as beautiful? Must everything be pretty to be adored? The ladybird has black legs and a beetle body, but girls exclaim over the gaiety of her red wings and the cheerfulness of her spots. Must we always bedeck ourselves in prettiness to be thought pleasing? It would appear so. A woman must look a certain way to be worthy of a man’s attentions. It is expected. So here I stand, in a borrowed white gown, with flowers in my hair and at my waist, gaudy as a maypole, looking how I never look, presenting an aspect of myself that does not exist. It is a lie. How much happier I would be to don the gossamer spider’s web as my veil. And to drape myself in my customary dark colors, the better to blend with the shadows, the better to observe, and not to be observed.
“Morgana? Morgana!”
Mam is impatient. No, not impatient, a little afraid. Afraid that I might slip away, hide myself in one of my many secret places, and stay hidden until this moment has passed. This moment not of my asking. Not of my choosing.
Can she really wish me to go? To leave the only home I have ever known? To leave her? Surely a daughter’s place is at her mother’s side. Why must things change? Why will she not allow me to make my own choice, in this of all matters?
“Morgana, what are you doing?”
I am found. She peers in at me, stooping into the low entrance of my holly den. Blood hurries to her lowered head, flushing her face. Even in the dim light the prickly shelter allows I can see she is agitated. And that the rosiness of her cheeks is set against a worrying pallor.
“Morgana, your dress … you will make it filthy sitting in here. Come out.” She withdraws and I can put off the moment no longer. I ponder the spider in my hand. I could take her with me; pop her in my petticoat pocket. At least then I might have a friend as my witness this day. But no, she belongs here. Why should both of us be uprooted?
There, little spinner, back to your web.
I return her to her rightful place. I wish I could stay with her in this dark, close space, this earth womb. But my wishes count for nothing now. My fate has been decided. I squeeze out of the den.
Outside, the sun hurts my eyes. The brash light illuminates my silly dress and showy flowers. I feel most horribly bright. Most ridiculously colored. What nonsense we are all engaged in.
Duw, child, you have enough mud on you to plant potatoes. What were you thinking? In your wedding gown.”
She tutts and huffs and frowns at me but I am unconvinced. I see fear in her eyes. She cannot hide it from me. She ceases beating at my skirts in an effort to remove the dirt and places her hands on my shoulders, holding my gaze as firmly as she grips me.
“You are a woman now,” she says, having just this second called me child. “It would serve you well to behave as one. Your husband will expect some … manners, at the very least.”
Now it is my turn to frown. Husband! Might as well say Owner! Master! Lord! I turn away. I do not wish to look at her while my heart is full of anger. I feel my bottled fury bubbling within me, and something shifts, something alters. Sounds become distant. Voices meaningless. There is such a pressure inside my skull, such a force fighting to be released. My eyelids droop. My movements become slow and leaden. The sensation of falling backward grows.
“Morgana!” The urgency in Mam’s voice reaches me. Calls me back. “Do not, Morgana! Not now.”
I open my eyes and see the dauntless determination in hers. We are, after all, alike in this way.
She turns me on my heel and all but marches me from the garden and along the lane to the chapel. With every hurried step the plain stone building comes closer. I will enter it as my own person and leave belonging to another. How can this be?
“Here.” At the gate to the graveyard Mam suspends our marching to fuss with my hair. “Let me look at you.” She looks, and I know she sees me. And I know that when I am away from her there will be no one to look at me in the way she does. And the thought brings with it such a weight of loneliness I have to steady myself to bear it. Mam touches my cheek. “All will be well, cariad,” she says.
I shake my head.
“I want only what is best for you,” she insists. “It is all I have ever wanted.” I feel her hesitate. A jay bobs past on its uneven flight and laughs at our pain. “He is a good man, Morgana. He will give you a home, a life. A future.” She sees that I do not care what he will give me; that I would rather stay with her and have none of these things. She has no answer to this.
A brisk trotting alerts us to the arrival of my betrothed. We both turn to watch the white pony stallion leaning into the collar of its harness boldly as it pulls the tub-trap up the hill, hastening the moment I have been in dread of all these months. The day is warm, and the little horse’s neck is slick with sweat but it is clear he, at least, is enjoying his outing. In the trap, which is mercifully free of flowers or ribbons, Cai Jenkins closes his hands on the reins and brings the pony to a halt. He is a tall man, lean, but strong, I think. His face is angular, almost severe, but softened by a full mouth, and light blue eyes. They are startling and bright—the color of forget-me-nots in sunshine. He ties the reins and steps down from the narrow wooden seat. His wool suit is loose on his bony frame. Mam never promised him I could cook. Will he remember that, later? It is a bad idea to make assumptions where people are concerned. When he climbs down from the trap he moves easily, a man clearly accustomed to a physical life. But the hint of shoulder blades beneath his jacket suggests he does not do well. No doubt he has felt the lack of a cook since his first wife died. Three years ago, that was. He loved her, he actually told us that. Came right out with the words.
“She was all and everything to me, see? I will not pretend otherwise,” said he, sitting in our parlor, Mam’s best china in his hand, tea growing cold while he filled the room with his unnecessary words. He had looked at me then, as if I were a colt given to biting and it would fall to him to devise the most effective manner of taming me. “I want to be honest with you both,” he said. “A drover must have a wife to qualify for his license. There is no one in my region … suitable.”
Why is that? I wondered then and I wonder now. Why is there no one nearer his home fit to be his bride? Why has he to travel to find someone suitable? How am I suitable?
“Well,” the teacup in Mam’s hand had rattled as she spoke, “there is a great deal said about love and not much understood, Mr. Jenkins. Respect and kindness have a lot to recommend them.”
He had nodded then, smiled, relieved that it was agreed. This was to be no love match.
Now he takes off his hat and holds it, too tight, in his hands, his long fingers turning it restlessly. His sandy hair is unruly, beginning to fall into curls at his collar, and in need of cutting. His gaze cannot settle on anything nor anyone.
“A fine morning for it, Mrs. Pritchard,” he says. Mam agrees. Now he puts his eyes on me. “You look … very well, Morgana.”
Is that the best he can do?
“Shall we go in?” Mam is anxious to get this done before I take it into my mind to bolt. She still has a firm hold on my arm.
Inside, old Mrs. Roberts stands next to the pitifully small floral displays. Mam oohs and aahs and thanks her. Reverend Thomas is all welcomes and delighteds. Mam puts me where I am to stand and Cai Tomos Jenkins stands beside me. I will not look at him. I have nothing to say to him.
The reverend starts up his words and I go to another place. Somewhere wild and high and free, untroubled by the silliness of men and their plans. There is a piece of hill above Cwmdu so steep that even the sheep won’t tread there. The surface is neither grass nor rock, but shifting shale that defies the hold of foot or hoof. To climb to the top you have to lean sideways into the slope, let your feet slip down half a pace for each you ascend. No good will come of fighting the mountain. You have to work in harmony with it. Be patient, be accepting of its unsettling ways, and it will slowly bear you up to the summit. And at the summit you will be made anew. Such vistas! Such distances! Such air that has not been breathed by damp lungs, or sucked in by furnace or fire. Air that fills your soul as well as your body.
“And do you, Morgana Rhiannon Pritchard, take this man to be your husband…?”
At the mention of my name I am pulled back into the chapel with a speed to make me dizzy.
“Morgana?” Mam puts her hand on my arm once more. Something is expected of me. She turns to Reverend Thomas, imploring.
He treats me to a smile so unsuited to being there I wonder it does not slip off his face.<BR...
--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B008RLW408
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (January 29, 2013)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 29, 2013
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 1027 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 1,443 ratings

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Paula Brackston lives in the historic city of Hereford on the Welsh border. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and has been a Visiting Lecturer for the University of Wales, Newport. Before becoming a writer, Paula tried her hand at various career paths, with mixed success. These included working as a groom on a racing yard, a travel agent, a secretary, an English teacher, a script reader, and a goat herd. Everyone involved (particularly the goats) is very relieved that she has now found a job she is actually able to do properly.

In 2007 Paula was shortlisted in the Creme de la Crime search for new writers. In 2010 her book 'Nutters' (writing as PJ Davy) was shortlisted for the Mind Book Award. The following year she was selected by the BBC under their New Welsh Writers scheme. 'The Witch's Daughter' became a New York Times bestseller. Her books are translated into five languages and sold around the world.

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
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