Monday, March 14, 2016

ARC Review: The Return of the Witch by Paula Brackston

The Return of the Witch
by Paula Brackston
Series:  The Witch's Daughter #2
Pub. Date:  March 8, 2016
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Pages:  320
Format:  eARC
Source:  NetGalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Paula Brackston's debut novel, The Witch's Daughter, was the little book that could―with a captivating story, remarkable heroine, and eye-catching package, it has now netted over 200,000 copies in all formats. Now Paula returns with its sequel The Return of the Witch, another bewitching tale of love and magic, featuring her signature blend of gorgeous writing, a fabulous and intriguing historical backdrop, and a headstrong and relatable heroine readers will cheer for.

After five years in the Summerlands, Gideon has gained his freedom. Elizabeth knows he will go straight for Tegan, and that she must protect the girl she had come to regard as her own daughter. In the time since she the dramatic night in Batchcombe woods, Tegan has travelled the world learning from all manner of witches, and she is no longer the awkward teenager and novice spellcaster she once was. However, her skills are no match for Gideon's dark, vengeful power, and he succeeds in capturing her. Will Elizabeth be able to find her? Will they be able to defeat their nemisis once and for all?

In a breathless journey that takes them through history, witch pursues warlock. Three people steeped in magic weave a new story, but not all will survive until the end.

Its been several years since I read The Witch's Daughter, so I really don't remember what happened in that book. In hindsight, I probably should have went back and read the last few chapters to try to jog my memory.

We start out The Return of the Witch with Gideon Masters having escaped the Summerlands, and Bess has left as well to track him down. Bess knows that he will most likely go after Tegan, who was Bess' daughter figure in the first book. Having been in the Summerlands for five years, she is not sure how Tegan will react to her reappearance. But Tegan has matured and become an educated and capable witch over the past five years, having come into her own power while study at the side of numerous capable witches across the globe.

This book definitely starts off with more action that the first one did, so that made me happy. Starting off in the modern day, we make a few time jumps in this book, one of them being back to where everything started - Batchcombe Hall. There are a few plot conflicts thrown in besides the main struggle with Gideon, and sometimes they got in the way of the real storyline. For instance, Bess would have to be off dealing with a side conflict when one of the main conflicts (the removal of a hex) was completed. This was a tad aggravating because I felt like we got a decent build up for the (main) conflict resolution, then it kind of fizzled out because Bess was needed elsewhere.

I enjoyed reading from Tegan's point of view, particularly when she was remembering back to her magical education in Siberia and the Deserts of the Dead. I believe there is room going forward for Tegan to spinoff on her own into a more action-packed series if the author is so inclined, and I would be happy to give those books a shot.

As for Gideon, he is still the villain but he seemed less evil in this book for some reason.  I found the twin sisters to be much more creepy than he was. I almost got a misunderstood vibe coming from him and kinda felt bad when it was all said and done.  I may not have felt this way if I would have remembered more of the first book because I forgot that he had seduced Tegan until she brought it up later in this installment.  Or maybe I just like rooting for the underdog and was feeling the distinct lack of a hero in this book.

While I love the idea of these books, I seemed to have gotten bogged down in the execution of this series. After the halfway point, I found myself skimming to get back to the action. Normally I don't mind these meandering and detailed stories, and I find beauty in the minutia. This one just didn't reach out and grab me for some reason. This author writes a lot of witchy books and the covers all catch my attention, so I will definitely be giving her another shot. This was not a bad story by any means, it just wasn't one of my favorite historical fantasies.

I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martin's Press in exchange for an honest review.