Tag Archives: witches

Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling

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Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling, novel, 325 pages, published by Chicken House in 2017.

It is 1577 in England; Queen Elizabeth sits upon the throne, Mary Queen of Scots is imprisoned for treason, London is filled with filthy streets and dubious characters, and witch-hunting is an active sport. In the little hamlet of Fordham, Alyce’s life is upturned when the hideous Mr Hopkins and his off-sider Caxton come to accuse her mother of witchcraft. Alyce is able to escape, but the witch finders are on her tail as she makes her way to London to deliver a letter to a man her mother said would help her. Her journey is not an easy one, but one that she does not have to make alone once she befriends a young actor, Solomon. As her powers swell uncontrollably, and the witch finders continue to hunt her, she can’t help but wonder, what is so important about her?

This was an interesting historical fiction, embellished with real witches capable of far more than healing herbs and mysterious incantations. I expected witchcraft, but not the historical aspect of the rivalry between Queen Elizabeth and Mary Stuart; I found this spin on history rather intriguing. The whole story was quite immersing, and flowed smoothly with good pace. It was a bit dark, with black magic and necromancy at play, with some violence and death, but that only added to the appeal. I did think that Alyce’s emerging power should have been more thoroughly explored.

I enjoyed falling into sixteenth century London, though I am glad I don’t have to live there! The description of the streets was so detailed, I could almost smell the stench of the markets, the foulness of unwashed bodies, and the murkiness of the Thames. It was not an appealing mix, but the sights of the Tower, the rickety shops and houses, the city gates, and the countryside beyond were much more enticing. The clothing and behaviour of the people matched the setting and time well, completing the scene expertly.

I connected more with Solomon than Alyce, despite feeling great sadness and pity for her situation. Solomon’s situation wasn’t a bunch of daffodils either, but he was less hardened by his experiences than Alyce seemed to be. I liked his amiable nature, and his occasional awkwardness; he was a good friend to Alyce before he even knew her well. Alyce was strong and determined, and sometimes wilful. They made a good pair. Many of the other characters were interesting too, though they were not as developed as Alyce and Solomon. I’m afraid that Caxton may visit my nightmares some nights… what a horrible beast.

Witchborn is suitable for upper primary and high school students. It is a good read for anyone who enjoys magic, witches and historical fantasy.

 

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Book Spotlight: Thirst by R P Channing

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Thirst by R P Channing CoverBook Title - Thirst Blood of my Blood-1

Thirst Blood of my Blood is a new young adult paranormal romance with vampires, demons and witches from debut novelist R P Channing. Here’s a little about the book.

 

~ Kira Sutherland ~

After a near fatal accident (and getting cheated on by her ‘boyfriend’), and beating up the lead cheerleader (with whom the boyfriend cheated…), and being labeled as having ‘issues’ in her school because she, uhm, sees ghosts, Kira is left with two choices:

  1. Continue her ‘therapy’ (where she’s told the ghost is a hallucination and also gets her legs ogled too often…)

Or

  1. Go to Starkfield Academy, a boarding school for “Crazies and Convicts” (as the social media sites call them.)

She chooses the latter…

~ Cory Rand ~

Cory Rand has not had an easy life. His mother died in a car accident when he was twelve, and so did his mother’s best friend…sort of. You see, Janice made a promise to take care of Cory just before she died, and so she lingers. Undead. A ghost that watches out for him.

Brought up in an abusive home, Cory quickly falls into a life of disreputable behavior. After his third offense (which was prompted by a girl, as usual – he has a weakness) he’s left with two choices:

  1. Be tried as an adult and share a cell with a guy named Bubba (he thinks…)

Or

  1. Go to Starkfield Academy, which Cory is pretty sure is run by vampires. But, hey, at least he’ll get an education.

He chooses the latter…

It’s at Starkfield that Kira meets Cory Rand, a boy with an insatiable Rage who sees ghosts, too. As well as other things, other things from his past, things that confuse him, things like fire and witches and demons.

Things he’s always ignored.

Until now.

 

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Now a little about the author of Thirst Blood of my Blood.

 

R P Channing started writing three years ago, but never published anything even after churning out over a million words of fiction. Thirst: Blood of my Blood is the first book he dared to publish. When asked why, he said, “Because it’s the first thing I wrote that my wife actually enjoyed reading.” When not hammering away (most literally) at his keyboard, he can be found buried in a book, reading anything from romance to horror to young adult to non-fiction to comedy.

Find the latest news and information on R P Channing’s website, or follow him on Twitter.

You can purchase Thirst Blood of my Blood from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Kindle Unlimited.

There is also an Amazon voucher giveaway link at the back of the book! Once the book hits fifty reviews on Amazon, one of those reviewers will win a $20 (US Dollars) Amazon Gift Voucher!

Now the best bit, read on for a taster of Thirst Blood of my Blood.

PROLOGUE

-1-
The Puppy Eyes

My life was perfect.

I had the perfect shoes and the perfect friends and I lived in the perfect house. My nails were perfect and my hair was perfect (except on Sundays, it was always windy on Sundays) and I had the perfect clothes. My lips were a perfect red and my hair perfectly straight. My eyeshadow was perfect, my hips were…okay, and my waist…well…also okay. Nothing was wrong in my life.

But then there was Jack.

Jack was a problem.

He needed to go. I mean, when you’re dead, you’re dead! I had told him this endlessly. Somehow, Jack didn’t get it. I mean, I felt sorry for the guy. Sure. Being stuck between this life and the next. But just because I found him, does that mean I needed to keep him?

I think not!

Sadly, when Jack got that look in his eyes, that weary, almost teary (if his tear- ducts worked) look, I melted. I just couldn’t send him away. Not even Jack knew where he would go after he died.

Would he, like, die? As in — dead, nada, kaput, finito, gone, no more? Bye bye, sayonara, ciao, hasta la vista baby and all that?

I couldn’t have that on my conscience. No way.

I lay on my bed, wondering what to do about him. “Jaaaaaaack,” I hollered.

“Jaaaaaaack!”

Still no answer.

“Jack!”

Jack…materialized.

His eyes rolled down to the ground. He was making those puppy eyes again. “Jack, I told you not to do that. I told you not to play on my sympathies.”

His puppy eyes became worse.

His skin was gray and, well, dead.

“Oh, brother,” I said. “I have to do something about you. If mom finds out I have another ‘imaginary friend’ — at my age — well, I’d die of embarrassment. But, like, really die. Not like you.” I wondered about this. Would I die? Was Jack a freak accident, or did all people live on like him? Think of the cemeteries…

The idea excited me somewhat.

“What would you have me do, Miss Kira?”

“Knock off the Miss Kira crap. I told you it’s just Kira.”

“Yes, Miss Kira.”

The dead. There’s just no reasoning.

“Fine, Miss Kira it is then.” Rover barked like a lunatic in the garden. No one else might be able to see Jack, but I was sure my dog could.

“I have to do something about this,” I mumbled.

 

-2-

The Rat

Mike knocked on the door before I had time to leave the house. Mike was the guy I thought (at the time) was perfect.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, baby.”

Baby, urgh — I wasn’t his baby. I dated Mike because he was the quarterback, because girls are supposed to like the quarterback, because it’s just so darn perfect to be seen with the quarterback, like we’re brainwashed into thinking these things from the first romantic doll set mom buys us.

This was my previous life. “Mike.”
“Uh-huh. Gonna let me in?”

So you can try rub me up and then complain when I don’t let you? This, dear reader, was the big problem with Mike. The second we first kissed, his hand went way too far south for me to be comfortable — and I pulled back.

Mike suddenly wasn’t so perfect.

“Uhm, I was just on my way out,” I said.

“Kira? C’mon, open the door.” He sounded upset. “Is there someone in there with you?”

Boys. As if.
I didn’t know much about love (nothing, actually) but I knew this wasn’t it. “Uhm, now’s not the time, Mike.”
“C’mon, Kira, what’s going on?” He banged harder.

When in doubt…lie. I opened the door a crack. “There’s a dead rat in the house, Mike. Been here for days. I gotta go get some detergent and stuff to handle the stench.”

Mike stepped back. He peered through the crack of the door.

“It’s really bad,” I said.

“I’ll drive you.”

“I’m afraid the smell” — I stuck my armpit to my nose — “has found its way all over me. I’ll drive myself.”

“O — okay. Fine.” And then he grinned like he wanted something. “Later? My place?”

Urgh. “Uhm, sure…er…later. Not sure when though.”

“Six.”

I fought the urge to roll my eyes. According to girls at school, he was apparently so damn good looking — theoretically. But for me personally, he did nothing. Moved nothing. Twisted nothing. “Look, I gotta go, Mike. I gotta — ”

“Kira.” His eyes grew stern. “You’ve been avoiding me…”

Bingo! Well done contestant number one! And what have you won? A brain!

I tilted my head. “Mike, look, this…rat — I need to deal with it. We’ll talk later, okay? Bye.” I closed the door, not waiting for an answer, and peered out the peep hole. Mike hung around for a second, shoulders wide and eyes glaring straight at me through the door. Could he see me? Did he know I was looking at him?

He kicked something off the ground, and I had the distinct impression he mouthed the word Bitch before leaving. But I wasn’t sure…

 

-3-

The Mack

“Roll down the window, Jack.” Jack was recently dead, so he still had a smell about him. (Which only I could smell…)

I had purposely skipped breakfast. Maybe Jack would help me lose weight. I was (still am) a little wide, although it had never stopped guys flirting with me. I know how to dress.

But I could be skinnier.

Lucy Rogers was skinny. All bones and no boobs.

Charlene Carverton was a babe. Cheerleader. Big chest (which she pushed out generously with a push-up — if only guys knew). Toned thighs. Charlene only dated college boys (back then), which I still think is pretty gross for a girl her age.

“He’s not for you,” Jack said out the blue.

“Hmm?”

“This…Mike — he’s wrong for you, Miss Kira.” For all Jack’s faults (mainly, being dead), he has a good heart. Factually, probably it’s why I kept him around at first.

“You think I don’t know that?”

“Then why don’t you dump him?”

I braked at a stop sign. Looked left and right. “Because I’d look like an idiot. I flirted with him and showed interest, and one kiss later I can’t stand the sight of him.”

“So dump him.”
“It’s not that simple. Kids at school — they can be vicious. I have to let it fade slowly. If I drop the bomb on him, I’ll never hear the end of it through senior year.”

“And you care?”

Yes, I did. Forget Guantanamo, schools are rough. “You don’t understand, Jack. Maybe school was different in your day. But in mine, well, we walk through metal detectors.”

“Schools weren’t too different in my day.” I noted the sadness in his voice. “You okay?”
“I’m dead.”
Right. “You miss…your life?”

Jack shrugged. “I like being with you, Miss Kira. And I don’t remember much of my life. I think I’m in limbo.”

“Limbo?”
“Yes, like I have some unfinished business. If only I could remember…what…it is…” He scratched his head. “Any ideas?”

“Well, it can’t be love. If it were love, I’d be a vampire. That’s who teenage girls fall in love with these days.”

“A vampire? That’s just what I need — two undead beings stalking me.”
“I feel I have something to do around you, Miss Kira. I don’t know what, but something. Something important.”
I looked over at him. “Me?”
I was still looking at him when I missed the stop sign. The Mack truck drove straight into us.

The Hippity Dippity Witch by Lorraine O’Byrne

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hippitydippitycoverThe Hippity Dippity Witch: Trouble in Willow Grove by Lorraine O’Byrne, e-book, 138 pages, published by Updrift in 2015.

To avoid a spelling test Jenny ditches school and goes to visit Willow Grove, a wood where her animal friends live. Since her last visit to Willow Grove, a young witch called Marigold has been wreaking havoc with her poor spell work. Marigold is the niece of Willow Grove’s resident witch, Griselda, who will not be impressed by Marigold’s interactions in the wood.

This was a quick and entertaining read. It contained short chapters, which are great for younger kids, and some black and white illustrations scattered through the book. I enjoyed reading about Marigold’s mishaps, which often made me laugh. I think this would be an excellent book to share with my kindergartner.

I enjoyed reading The Hippity Dippity Witch; it was well written, and the plot flowed nicely. The story finished with hints towards a sequel, so hopefully there will be more books to come. I was surprised by the twist for Jenny towards the end of the story, but thought that it fit nicely.

The characters were interesting. Marigold was a bratty, dislikeable girl with a temper, though her mistakes were rather funny! I liked her rhyming spells, it’s just a shame that they never quite worked. Jenny on the other hand was a caring, polite and gentle child who talks to animals. I liked Griselda too, she was a talented witch, who was also strong and kind.The little woodland creatures were funny, especially after their encounters with Marigold!

The Hippity Dippity Witch is a wonderful story for lower to middle primary school students. I hope there will be more stories about Jenny, Griselda and Marigold soon!

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

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IMG_9756The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, paperback novel, 107 pages, first published by Allison and Busby in 1974, this edition was published by Puffin Books in 1978.

Mildred Hubble is in her first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy, a school for young witches. Disaster and trouble seem to travel in her wake as she navigates broomstick riding, basic spellcraft and potions, along with her best friend, Maud. While the school is headed by a jovial Miss Cackle, the girls are under the ever watchful eye of the severe Miss Hardbroom, their form teacher. Unfortunately for Mildred, she has found herself on the bad side of Ethel, another student. Not only is Ethel a better witch than Mildred, she is also the teacher’s pet, and she has a mean streak.

Witches are often portrayed as old, ugly and mean, but The Worst Witch shows a different side to witches. In this fantasy story, children are learning to become witches, and while some of them are mean, most of them are fairly normal kids just trying to get along in their schooling. Children can relate to Mildred’s dilemmas, even if they are of a more magical nature than their own. It is a fairly short and easy novel with some black and white illustrations scattered throughout. It is good for younger readers who are moving on from chapter books, suiting lower to middle primary school children. I read this book as a child, and it was nice to be able to share it with my own children. I found that I still enjoyed the story as an adult, and my second grader has already read it through a number of times. She is looking forward to finding the other books in this series.