If you’re a historical purist, than Witchstruck may not be the book for you. Lamb has woven together historical figures and events with fictional characters and the supernatural. It’s an unusual combination but one that I really, really enjoyed.
Set in 1554, Witchstruck introduces the story of Meg, servant to the closely guarded Elizabeth, and a practicing witch. It’s not long before a desperate Elizabeth turns to Meg for help, asking her to use her magic to foresee the future. Will she or won’t she be queen?
With growing political unrest, the arrival of a Spanish priest who seems determined to uncover her secrets and a ruthless witch hunter closing in on her, Meg finds herself in increasing danger. It’s not long before her loyalties are tested when she inadvertently becomes mixed up in treasonous plot that could see Elizabeth crowned, or executed, with Meg right alongside her.
I’ve always been drawn to stories about witchcraft, whether they lean towards the supernatural, featuring kick-ass women with actual powers, or focus on a more historical portrayal. Both fascinate me and Witchstruck, to my delight, is a combination of the two. Meg and her Aunt are both witches, a dangerous practice in Tudor England. In order to survive, Meg must hide who she really is, trusting no one, yet she cannot help but find herself drawn to Alejandro, a young priest sent to spy on Elizabeth’s household.
J. Anderson Coats has kindly agreed to answer some questions about her upcoming book The Wicked and the Just, which goes on sale today. (Look out for my review later in the week!)
This novel is seeped in history and inspired by real life events, so I asked her if she could tell us a little bit more about it.
*all images linked back to original source*
The Welsh Uprising of 1294 in Caernarvon is a period that perhaps isn’t as well-known to some readers. Could you tell us a little bit about it? What made you want to write a story based around these events?
After the fall of native government in Wales in 1282-3, the English filled the power vacuum and made north Wales into a principality directly administered by the Crown. They sought to ensure that the Welsh never caused trouble again, so they implemented an extensive – and expensive – castle-building, urban development and settlement program to maintain control of the area through extra-military means.
What interested me was this question: Even when granted a lot of special privileges – including significant tax breaks – how did English settlers live in a place where they were outnumbered twenty to one by a hostile, recently-subjugated population, and how did the Welsh live so close to people who’d done the subjugating, especially given the burdens placed on them by their new masters?
Ruth Warburton, author of A Witch in Winter, joins us on the blog today to chat about her debut novel. Click here to see my review.
A Witch in Winter has quite a historic feel – the idea of witchcraft being passed down through the centuries, the history surrounding the town Anna moves to – all of which I loved. Did you ever think about making A Witch in Winter a historical novel, or did you always know that you wanted to write a contemporary book?
It was always a contemporary book in my head – I don’t know why – that was just how it started! I could definitely see myself doing something set in the past in another book though. I loved doing the research and weaving it into the plot.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
Mainly it was research in order to write the spells the girls use. They had to sound really convincing and authentically “old”, but the real spell books I found didn’t quite work in the plot. There are lots of real grimoires which survive from the middle ages and even earlier, but they aren’t what we would really think of as spell books – they’re often in Latin and full of complicated instructions about astrology and spirits and demons – they were designed to be read by learned men and are more like a whole study guide.
I wanted something a bit more rustic and domestic, with spells and charms the girls could pick out and use individually, a bit like recipes. So I researched the language and style of real spell books, as well as the language of early recipe books, and I also researched folk charms and superstitions, and tried to kind of combine all three into something close to what I wanted, but convincingly 16th century. Continue reading
You may remember I included Mary Quinn as part of my Recommended Reading: Books with Strong Heroines, post last week. International Women’s Day was a few days ago now, but I wanted to carry on the theme for a little longer.
Author Y.S Lee has kindly put together a guest post to tell us a little bit more of what it would have been like to be a woman during the 19th Century, during which, her excellent series, The Agency, is set. Continue reading
In honor of International Women’s Day, I am excited to welcome Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity, (my review of which can be read here) to Turn the Page. Elizabeth very generously agreed to an in-depth interview about her new book and a guest post about flygirls! Continue reading
I was lucky enough to be invited by Templar to review and take part in the blog tour for Kirsty Murray’s upcoming new book India Dark. If you need more than a gorgeous cover to make you want to snatch this one up, check out my review over here.
For my stop on the tour, I got to ask Kirsty some questions about the real Lilliputian’s, her characters and touring India. Continue reading