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by Finbar Hawkins

Children's & YA Fiction Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel Debut Books of the Month Debuts Historical fiction Fantasy

LoveReading Expert Review of Witch

A fierce yet thoughtful historical fantasy based on the witch trials in 17th century England.

A gobble-it-up fiery and intense yet thoughtful debut novel about family, betrayal, and witchcraft. Opening the pathway to a fabulous historical fantasy series this calls out as a must-read for young adults. Set during the civil war in 17th century England, 15 year old Evey has to flee with her little sister Dill when her mother is murdered. As with all good young adult novels, it is perfectly easy to slide into and really enjoy as an adult too, particularly with the wonderful cover drawing you in. Touching history, it flies into fantasy, as author Finbar Hawkins examines the meaning of witch. Evey is a complex character and as she tells her own story she has the ability of self-reflection, even if she doesn’t always like what she sees. Witch is a read that fair on crackles with energy, it also encourages thoughts to both consider and soar and deservedly sits as one of our LoveReading debuts of the month.

Liz Robinson

Witch Synopsis

Set in the 17th century, a breathtaking debut, and a potential prize-winner, about the power of women, witchcraft, fury, revenge and the ties that bind us. After witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by witch-hunters, Evey vows to avenge her and track down the killers. Fury burns in her bright and strong. But she has promised her mother that she will keep Dill, her little sister, safe. As the lust for blood and retribution rises to fever pitch, will Evey keep true to the bonds of sisterhood and to the magick that is her destiny? Praise for Witch: 'A story that captures sibling rivalry so perfectly and tells its tale so beautifully I didn't want it to finish' JASBINDER BILAN 'Raw, mystical and beautifully told. A striking debut' KIRSTY APPLEBAUM 'An assured debut of sisterhood and fury' THE BOOKSELLER 'A book filled with enchantment, in every sense. Dark, exciting and pacy, Witch brilliantly balances magic and realism' ANTHONY McGOWAN 'There is real magic here, though what leaps off the page is the creepy atmosphere and the raw emotion of a grieving, raging girl ... Perfect reading for a dark, stormy night' IRISH TIMES WEEKEND

About This Edition

ISBN: 9781838935627
Publication date: 14th October 2021
Author: Finbar Hawkins
Publisher: Zephyr an imprint of Head of Zeus
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 384 pages
Primary Genre Children's & YA Fiction
Other Genres:
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Witch Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

This tale is spellbinding, it glitters with gems of insight into our relationships with those we hold most dear and it positively pulses with raw energy. Highly recommended.

Set during the 17th century witch trials, this is Evey's story.

Hunted by the men who brutally murdered their mother, Evey and her sister Dill must flee for their lives. They are young and afraid but their mother has taught them well and they have many skills. They are strong, independent and resourceful but at the same time shattered by the loss of their mother. They will need the help of others in order to survive but this isn’t only a story of survival, this is also a story of revenge. It explores the depths of a mother's love, the strength of women and the power wielded by men. It is a tale of good and evil, friendship and hate but it is ultimately Evey's discovery of who she really is and all that she can become.

This short but amazingly intense book is utterly spellbinding. It glitters with gems of insight into our relationships with those we hold most dear and it positively pulses with raw energy. I admit that there was a point when I started to read where my heart sank, the language was old fashioned and I worried that it would hinder me, I would struggle to understand it fully and subsequently it would limit my enjoyment of the story. My concern, which lasted all of about 2 pages, was completely unfounded. In fact, rather than detracting from it, the writing style actually enhanced the tale and was integral to creating the whole atmosphere of the book. I devoured it in two days, it transported me to another world and I found myself thinking about it even when I wasn’t reading, which for me is one of the telltale signs of a good book. Highly recommended.

S Harper

A magical, atmospheric tale, very well told.

At first I found the style of writing a little strange, but soon got totally engrossed in the story. Evey is a young teenage girl, who with her sister Dill, live in dark troubled times when suspicion falls on those who are a bit different. When they lose their mother who is accused of witchcraft, they must make their way on their own through dangerous situations, not knowing who to trust. Evey swears revenge on her mother's killers, but she is only a young girl, how can she succeed?

This is a story of magical times, beautifully written and very atmospheric. There are some dark moments in the book, so definitely for the older teenage reader. I was swept along with Evey and Dill, picturing the landscape through the eloquent descriptive writing.

A book about the strength of women against those that would do them harm.

christine woolfenden

The writing was beautifully poetic and suited the magic and enchanting setting. It was about finding the power within and the importance of love and friendship for women.

The story of Evey and her sister Dill in the aftermath of their mother's murder at the hands of witch hunters, is a powerful tale. It is set in a time of wars, witch trials and hard lives for women. Women were supposed to be subservient. Not the women Evey knew.
I loved the historical aspects of the story, but it is the character development in the face of enormous struggles and grief that impressed me most. The writing was beautifully poetic and suited the magic and enchanting setting. It was about finding the power within and the importance of love and friendship for women.

Karen McIntosh

A good exciting tale set in the time of Oliver Cromwell and the Witch finders. Evey learns to overcome her anger at the needless murder of her mother.

The Author sets the scene very well. You feel yourself back in the 17th Century. He involves you by the description and the way the characters speak, it doesn't take long to "get into" the odd speech patterns... It is a placement very different to the 21st Century.

The heroine of the tale is Evey (Evaline) who witnesses the death of her mother. She is filled with both anger, over the unnecessary death of her witch mother by some witchfinders but also extreme jealousy as her mother gives her younger sister Dill the very important scrying stone to keep. Dill is taken to safety by Evey who then leaves to get the retribution she so desires. The story develops and it is how Evey along with several friends she makes as she learns to overcome both the anger and her jealousy.

The story moves along at a very rapid pace and you travel alongside Evey as she battles evil witchfinders and tries to survive. I found that enjoyed the tale, though there are a few gruesome injuries and some actions are glossed over (rape).

It does achieve what it aims to be ... an exciting tale for young adults and advanced younger readers.

Karin Gibson

In seventeenth century England, brigades of witch-hunters are killing witches. Fifteen-year-old Evey lives with her mother and her sister, Dill. One day a brigade comes for them …

In seventeenth century England, life is very uncertain. Brigades of witch-hunters roam the countryside searching for witches to kill. Women and girls are in great danger regardless of whether they are witches or not.

Fifteen-year-old Evey lives with her mother and her younger sister, Dill. Their mother is a healer and midwife. One day a brigade comes for them…

Set in the West Country during the Civil War, Witch is a story of magic, otherness and revenge. It is an exciting and engrossing novel that captures the suspense and dark atmosphere of the period.

Andrea Rayner

A great story of revenge. Although I enjoyed this book, it did take me some time to get into the flow of the writing.

A great story of revenge. Although I enjoyed this book, it did take me some time to get into the flow of the writing and I do feel that the language used is perhaps not too well suited for the target audience. Overall I enjoyed the book and felt the main character, Evey, was strong. At times the story felt rushed and I lost track of what was happening. I'll recommend this to my Mum, as I know she loves anything based around Witches.

Emily Chick

Finbar Hawkins Press Reviews

'From the first page, my heart was hooked by this dark and twisty tale of old magic, love and revenge. The story thunders like a force of nature' Julie Pike, author of The Last Spell Breather

'I couldn't stop reading this 5-star story for teens, full of witchcraft, revenge and the power of women' Mel Darbon, author of Rosie Loves Jack

'Bold, original, powerful story-telling. This story of fierce love, anger and revenge, war and witch hunts, is tense and bloody and compelling' Julia Green, author of The House of Light

'I loved it. I loved how atmospheric it was, I loved the fierce loyalty of Evey and Dill, I loved how I could smell the weather on every page' Emma Kennedy, author of the Wilma Tenderfoot series

'Witch is a rare thing, a book both brilliant and original, as strange and dark as it is beautiful. A tale of revenge set in war-ravaged landscape, ruled by fear and superstition; of redemption and love between two sisters; of the corrupting power of 'Magick.' All this. And more besides' Chris Vick, author of CILIP Carnegie-shortlisted Girl. Boy. Sea

'Witch grips you in its spell from first page to last. It's a stunningly written story of loss and love, of eerie magic, high adventure, and the ties that keep us strong in darkness and bring us safely home. As fierce, beautiful and thrilling as a bird of prey in flight' Jonathan Stroud, author of the Lockwood & Co. series

'A book filled with enchantment, in every sense. Dark, exciting and pacy, Witch brilliantly balances magic and realism' Anthony McGowan, author of CILIP Carnegie Medal winner Lark

'Raw, mystical and beautifully told, Witch is the story of a young woman's self-discovery in a hostile world. A striking debut' - Kirsty Applebaum, author of The Middler, shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2020

'An assured debut of sisterhood and fury' - The Bookseller

'I felt its dark jewelled cloak fall about my shoulders and magic me to the time of witch-craft. A story that captures sibling rivalry so perfectly and tells its tale so beautifully I didn't want it to finish' - Jasbinder Bilan, author of the Costa-winning Asha and the Spirit Bird

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9781838935627
Publication date: 14/10/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781838935610
Publication date: 01/10/2020
Format: Hardback

View All Editions

About Finbar Hawkins

Finbar Hawkins is a graduate of the Bath Spa MA in Writing for Young People. He grew up in Blackheath, London and now lives in Wiltshire with his family, in a landscape steeped in myth and legend. He is a creative director for Aardman Animations in Bristol, where he makes fun interactive things for children of all ages. Photo credit Gavin Strange

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