Witch Wood

by John Buchan

eBooks of the Month Historical Fiction Thriller and Suspense

LoveReading View on Witch Wood

This was John Buchan's favourite novel and an inspiration for the young C S Lewis.  It's a terrifying portrait of a cruel and intolerant age set against the backdrop of the Covenanting time.  Its main character David Semphill must choose between his God, his beliefs and the woman he loves.  As the local minister he must lead a community that is drifting towards religious extremes.  As a man he must watch the woman he loves caught up in accusations of black magic.  The veneer of God-fearing respectability becomes thinner and thinner in an increasingly intolerant age.


From the Introduction by Allan Massie in Witch Wood:

'Buchan was at ease in the seventeenth century, and of all his novels Witch Wood was the most ambitious, the longest pondered, and, with the exception of Sick Heart River, written in the last months of his life, the most deeply felt.

Buchan thought Witch Wood the best of his novels, and, though it has never been the most popular, he was right. It goes deeper than anything else he wrote. If it is first and foremost a historical novel, exploring in the manner of Scott and the mature Stevenson, a significant moment in Scottish history, and offering a study of Scottish society, and of the ideology which dominated that society and formed the historical character of the Scottish people, it is also a book which raises questions - disturbing questions - about human nature, about our capacity for self-deception, and about the consequences of repressing certain elements of that nature. Buchan's contemporary Ford Maddox Ford held that the best imaginative literature has the power, denied in his view in other art forms, to make us think and feel at the same time. Witch Wood - more that anything else Buchan wrote - has that power. Like all great novels it makes a strong first impression, draws you to read it a second and third time, and reveals more at each subsequent reading.  '

Witch Wood Synopsis

David Semphill is being torn apart. Young and idealistic, his loyalty to his King conflicts with his Covenanting sympathies which are, in turn, tested by the brutality he witnesses towards Montrose's beaten army. When black magic in uncovered in the ancient 'Witch Wood' as a man of God he must fight it, but his love for the beautiful, pagan Katrine and the religious extremism of the time puts him at the centre of a deadly spiral.

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Witch Wood Press Reviews

'Buchan knew that you can't buck the consequences of your actions, and that your life is what you make of it. Perhaps his peculiarly Scottish combination of Romanticism and Calvinism - daring living and high thinking - is due to return to fashion.' - The Independent Magazine

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781846970719
Publication date: 15/08/2008
Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited an imprint of Birlinn General
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781846970719
Publication date: 15th August 2008
Author: John Buchan
Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited an imprint of Birlinn General
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Genres: eBook Favourites, Historical Fiction, Thriller / Suspense,
Categories: Classic fiction (pre c 1945),

About John Buchan

John Buchan led a truly extraordinary life: he was a diplomat, soldier, barrister, journalist, historian, politician, publisher, poet and novelist. He was born in Perth in 1875, the eldest son of a Free Church of Scotland minister, and educated at Hutcheson’s Grammar School in Glasgow. He graduated from Glasgow University then took a scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford. During his time there – ‘spent peacefully in an enclave like a monastery’ – he wrote two historical novels. In 1901 he became a barrister of the Middle Temple and a private secretary to the High Commissioner for South Africa. ...

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