The Midnight Witch, by Paula Brackston

I received a free copy of this ebook to review from NetGalley, on behalf of the publisher. It will be released 25 March 2014. 

The Midnight Witch

In the heart of London is a hundreds years old coven whose members can speak to the dead. They’ve kept their secret for a very long time. But it’s 1913 when Paula Brackston’s The Midnight Witch begins and things will soon change, whether the witches will it or no.

Lilith Montgomery has just buried her father, the former Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven, when Brackston introduces her to us and to the young artist who has just arrived from Sheffield. Bram Cardale immediately begins to sketch Lilith as she and her family stand at the graveside. He admires Lilith’s quiet strength. He longs to meet her again and chance—and Lilith’s friend, Charlotte—bring them frequently into contact. As Lilith and Bram fall in love with each other, Lilith must also bear up to the challenges of being the new Head witch and battling against ancient enemies.

The Sentinels have been after the Lazarus Coven’s great secret for centuries. The coven holds the secret to resurrecting the dead. Only the Head Witch has all the pieces of the secret. The Sentinels were stripped of their powers centuries ago, but they’ve always been trying to get it back. They see their opportunity now, with an untested witch at the helm. They send a dark spirit to try and weaken Lilith’s resolve. They threaten her family. They try nearly everything to get Lilith to give up her secret.

Events build to a heart-stopping fight on Tower Bridge during the spring of 1914. Brackston skips ahead to 1917, then 1919, as Lilith and her enemies spar for control of the secret of resurrection. The author doesn’t let up a bit during the last third of the book.

The Midnight Witch is a terrific read, rich in period detail as Brackston draws us an alternate version of 1913-1919. Her characters are richly drawn. Some of the minor characters even threaten to steal the show, especially Richard Mangan the wild sculptor and his family and mistress. I loved their madcap scenes. The Midnight Witch is the latest in a series of novels that feature secretive witches in England’s history. I enjoyed this one so much that I really want to go read the others now.

Alas, my to-read pile has been out of control for a while now.

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