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The Book of Shadows [Hardcover]

Paula Brackston
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 19.99
Price: 16.66 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Dec 2008
"The Books of Shadows" is a stunning, magical debut. It will be supported by our best terms, budget and effort. It is entered for all eligible prizes and individual retailer awards and shortlists. Having established our horror list, we are delighted to add "Witchcraft" to the mix - although "The Book of Shadows" is very much a mainstream novel and suitable as a read for those who love general fiction. This book is in the same vein as "Jonathan Strange" and "Mr Norrell".

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: snowbooks (1 Dec 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906727120
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906727123
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.2 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,344,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Paula Brackston runs creative writing classes and workshops, is a script reader for a film company, and sells her short stories. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University. Her travel book 'The Dragon's Trail' is a journal of her month long horseback trek around Wales. Her autobiographical writing has been published in anthologies -'Even The Rain Is Different', 'Strange Days Indeed', and 'In Her Element'. In 2006 she was shortlisted in the Creme de la Crime Search for new writers. She lives half way up a Brecon Beacon with her partner and their two children.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book of Shadows 12 Feb 2009
By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 1000 REVIEWER
When her mother is executed for witchcraft, Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith has only one way to save herself from the same fate. She must succumb to the will of Gideon Masters, the Warlock, who will instruct her in the magic arts and bring her immortality. But of course there is a price to pay, and Gideon pursues her across the centuries to claim that payment. We follow Elizabeth from 17th century rural England to Victorian London, from the battlefields of WWI to the present day and her final encounter with her enemy.
This is a fast-paced and engrossing tale, and Paula Brackston has undoubted literary talent. She keeps a tight hold on the narrative and ties all the different episodes in together with a deft touch. I kept turning the pages and found myself engrossed in the story. Certainly a book group would find plenty to discuss here, with the themes of witchcraft and healing, war and medicine.

However, I do have a couple of criticisms. For a start the book needs the attention of a good editor (a perennial gripe of mine - where are all the good editors?) There are some infelicitous expressions - viridian grasses, fescued fields. Someone in the 17th century section is called a "lech" - which is surely an anachronism - and later on p329 someone in described as having the audacity "to letch". On both occasions the word jars - as well as being spelled inconsistently. The otherwise fluent writing now and again descends into cliché, particularly in the war episodes, the part of the book where Paula Brackston seems least comfortable.
But these are minor quibbles compared to the main one, which is the magic in the book. Now obviously this is a fantastical tale and in order to enjoy it we have to suspend our disbelief. And most of the time that is easy enough to do.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M J Houlton A great story 15 Jan 2009
I really enjoyed this book! Once I started it, I couldn't put it down. The story line is fast moving and keeps you on your toes - you never quite know what is coming next and you're always on edge, waiting for Gideon(may he rot in hell) to make his next move. The characters are very real, and draw you straight in to their world. The story skips through time, from present day back to 1628 and is so vividly portrayed that you can practically feel the fog against your skin in Victorian London and your heart breaks for what they endured in the trenches in 1917. And Bess is a wonderful heroine. An enthralling book - think I might have to read it all over again!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of Shadows 12 Jan 2009
I am delighted to be the first to write a review for The Book of Shadows. It is one of those perfect reads, when you pick up the book and just want to keep reading, which I did curled up by the fire, it being deep Winter.
When one reads`My name is Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith and my age is 384years. Each new settlement asks for a new journal, and so this Book of Shadows begins`, then one knows this will be an unusual story , and so it is- gripping and compulsive ,as are the two main characters, whose lives are intertwined through several lifetimes.
If this is Paula's first novel, then I await the publication of her next with great anticipation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less would have been more . . . 16 April 2011
This is a typical book exploring the traditional witchcraft genre. Written partially as a diary, but mainly split into three stories, this book has a less than average form and I liked this. The idea of a warlock tracing a witch across time and the fact that she is immortal are themes that fit. I noticed the use of spells such as hovering, healing magic, disappearing, and fire balls being thrown to name a few.

However, I also thought the author tried too hard. Whilst each of the three stories are beautifully written, they were too short to really engage with the subject matter. This is partially to do with the fact that these stories hinged around significant events, including the Salem Witch trials together with plague, Jack the Ripper and early surgical techniques, and the horrors of nursing during World War One - there simply was not sufficient time/pages to devote to such large subjects in my opinion. As a result I did not engage with the characters that arose in those stories. This was disappointing as one of those characters was a main love interest.

I am also left with questions. If she ages 5 years for every hundred - surely she will eventually die and is not therefore immortal. If she wants to remain hidden from Giddeon, why she she keep using variants of her name for each person? I could mention others, but you get the idea.

As a whole this was a fair debut, but the lack of experience shows. I think Paula Brackston will have a positive literary future ahead of her merely due to her ideas alone. However, she needs to refine her craft and not attempt to be a master of all trades in order to truely be successful.

A final thought is that I suspect this novel (The Book of Shadows) is the original title of 'The Witch's Daughter'.
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