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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book of Shadows
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...
Published on 12 Feb 2009 by Amanda Jenkinson

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less would have been more . . .
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...
Published on 16 April 2011 by tesskrose


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book of Shadows, 12 Feb 2009
By 
Amanda Jenkinson "MandyJ" (Cheltenham) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Book of Shadows (Paperback)
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. The narrative is compelling enough for that. But every so often the author's imagination seems to run away with her. There is no need for the monstrous creatures that turn up on a couple of occasions and most certainly not for the troupe of sparkly fairies who lend a farcical element to an otherwise important scene. The book deals relatively realistically with witchcraft and just doesn't need these rather silly additions. And I'm quite sure anyone truly interested or involved in Wicca wouldn't be too impressed.

Nevertheless, on the whole I found it an enjoyable book, and for a first novel has much to recommend it.

The Book of Shadows
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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
By 
M. Houlton - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Book of Shadows (Hardcover)
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
By 
Mrs. B. A. Thomas "Barbara Anne" (Deepest Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Book of Shadows (Hardcover)
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 review is from: The Book of Shadows (Paperback)
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'. I was not sure and initially thought these were two different stories.

I feel the author may have done better to have gone with the idea that 'less is more' or should have split this story over a series, because there certainly is room and scope to do so with this idea.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 19 April 2009
This review is from: The Book of Shadows (Paperback)
Book of Shadows is a real treat to read. Fast from the off it is the kind of novel which is hard to put down. Its main character travels through three time periods - from the great plague to the modern day. The matter of a fact way in which she faces the trials of these time zones is well crafted and executed. There is a good deal of suspense and drama on the way as well as tight characterisation and the odd moment of almost gothic like horror. It would be shame to reveal more of the story as it is the kind of book better read that talked about. However, it is about a witch travelling through time and the enemy that pursues her at every turn.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 July 2014
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This review is from: The Book of Shadows (Paperback)
Good read
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4.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, sweeping epic - but needs editor and strays into farce occasionally, 3 Feb 2013
By 
ladyguinevere (Aberdeen, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Book of Shadows (Hardcover)
The idea behind this story is intruiging, engrossing and romantic - an immortal witch pursued and hunted through the centuries by an obsessed warlock. We are treated to a tale of four different lifetimes she has led and fled over the ages, first as a naive girl in the 1600s during the time of plague and witch trials, then as a doctor in Jack-the-Ripper era London, then as front-line WW1 nurse in France, and lastly as modern hedgerow Wiccan in a sleepy English village, befriending and teaching a lonely but eager young apprentice. It's a sweeping epic style story that does a fairly good job of inducing the atmosphere of the eras and settings she's depicting, in a way that reminded me of, if you've ever read it, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, which also left me with the same feeling of having been taken on a rich journey to various times and places. It kept me hooked and I read most of it in one sitting.

I agree, however, with another reviewer who said this book desperately needed an editor. Are they just not hiring editors these days or something? Although it is well-written and the author did a good job of getting me to care about the characters (I teared up a couple times!), the text was chockablock with typos, and there were passages where I thought she could have gotten to her point a bit more quickly with a little bit of trimming by an editor. I also agree that some of the magic went a bit overboard. Although I can appreciate that it's a fantasy book, I think it would have been just as, if not more, effective without some of the theatrics of strange dancing beasts, monstrous heads, and fairies and flying. This was a problem I noticed throughout - there were moments where I felt it lacked subtlety... Several times, she had written something in such a way so that you knew exactly what she was getting at. And then she came out and said it plainly, again, which was unnecessary and redundant and sort of ruined the nicely shown-not-told paragraph immediately preceding. The use of Greensleeves the first couple of times was nice and creepy. Eventually it got a bit tiresome and overdone. Again, a good editor would have caught these minor but irritating writing errors and omitted them before publication.

There were some other inconsistencies and times when I was left unconvinced. The love story part develops a bit quickly and therefore didn't really leave me feeling as deeply moved as I should have been. And yes, some of the ways her stalker uses to escape detection could surely have been used by Elizabeth herself, but aren't... why? But some suspension of disbelief is inevitably required, so that didn't bother me so much.

Overall though, this was a cracking good yarn, and I think with some more experience, and a good editor, this author will be one whose work I will follow in the future.
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The Book of Shadows by Paula Brackston (Paperback - 2 Feb 2009)
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