March 24, 2014 by mmileti
Release Date: March 25, 2014
This new novel by Paula Brackston is a continuation of her series about witches, including The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch. These works can all be read as standalone novels, but this new installment is sure to please those that are established fans of Brackston’s Witch series. The Midnight Witch, like Brackston’s other books, is about a young girl on the verge of womanhood struggling to find her place in the world, both as a woman and a witch.
The main distinction between the books in the Witch series is that each is set in a different historically accurate time period. The Midnight Witch brings us from the lavishness of high society Edwardian England, to the darkness and horrors of World War I. The protagonist is Lilith, a young woman who is the daughter of a Duke. This same Duke happens to be Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven, and when he dies it is up to Lilith to inherit her father’s position. Her father trained her in the art of necromancy from a young age, but being the Head Witch will be harder than Lilith could have ever imagined. She will have to face a group of sorcerers who seek to reclaim something from her coven (for dark purposes of their own), a fiancé she doesn’t love, and a young artist far below her station that she can’t help but have feelings for. Lilith struggles to balance the different obstacles she faces, while at the same time keeping to the Lazarus creed: secrecy and silence. But is it possible to hide what she truly is from the people she loves?
I enjoyed this book even though it read more like an historical fiction than speculative fiction. The pacing was slower than I usually prefer, but it seemed to match both the plot and the story’s setting. It might have been awkward, or more like an urban fantasy if there had been too much excitement in the plot, as Edwardian England was neither a time nor place where danger lurked around every corner for a girl who was part of high society. Lilith’s activities with her coven were enough to make me keep reading the story, but not enough for me to become completely engrossed in the story.
One thing that Brackston could have done a lot better was the transition between her POV characters. The POV changes seemed a bit uncomfortable and abrupt, and were especially confusing in my advanced reading copy as there were no line breaks to signal that the POV had changed. I am sure this issue will be fixed for the novel’s final edited copy, but I still would have liked a little more resolution from one character before delving into a new characters point of view. It often seemed as if the scene and characters would change while right in the middle of an important plot point, and not in a way that would leave an appropriate cliffhanger and an incentive to keep reading.
Other than this, I found the characterization to be quite good. I found it easy to sympathize with Lilith’s character, and I loved that despite the many obstacles she faced throughout the book, she stayed a strong and continued to grow as a woman. My only real problem with her character was her name. I find it extremely difficult to believe that a girl from Edwardian England would be named Lilith, especially since her coven life was such a big secret. Despite this, Brackston did a wonderful job of blending aspects of a historical novel with aspects of a hidden supernatural subculture.
Overall the novel was well written, and though I did enjoy it, I did not love it. The novel was paced a bit too slowly for my tastes, and the plot contained far too much love story and not enough action. But these aspects of the book were only a problem for me because of my personal preferences, and I am sure that there will be many people who will love this novel. I would especially recommend The Midnight Witch to fans of Brackston’s other novels, and those that love historical fiction as well as speculative fiction.
I would rate this book a 6.5/10.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.