Witch Born – by Nicholas Bowling


      Witch Born by Nicholas Bowling. Chicken House, An Imprint of Scholastic Inc. October 2018. 9781338277531

Format: Paperback ARC

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3

Genre:  Fantasy, Adventure

What did you like about the book? Alyce’s mother is burned at the stake as a witch, but unlike the majority of women who were persecuted for “odd” or “sinful” behavior throughout history, Alyce’s mother truly was a witch. Alyce makes her escape to London with only her mother’s vague directions guiding her to seek the aid of a man she has never met, but she immediately lands herself in Bedlam – the infamous “hospital” for the  insane. She escapes her captivity and is taken in by an innkeeper and a young actor, sympathetic to the circumstances that have landed her on the unforgiving streets of Elizabethan London. Throughout this story Alyce is pursued by the very witchfinders who murdered her mother, all while a hidden war plays out in the shadows. Trust is broken, friendships are tested, and Alyce must learn about her past, the future she is destined for, and the gifts that she was born to.

This book was an interesting take on the conflicts between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. It casts the two queens as battling witches, hoping to reign both the world as well as young Alyce and her gifts.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Although this book was highly original, I think that it didn’t quite accomplish what it was hoping to do. Tying in the characters of Elizabeth and Mary into Alyce’s story seemed almost random and surprised me at first. It almost would have been more powerful to tell only Alyce’s story OR that of the two witch queens; together it just felt forced. The author also introduced a large number of colorful characters that seemed like they were going to play a more significant role in the story, but more often would disappear without too much resolution.

To whom would you recommend this book?  I would recommend this book to YA readers who liked Witch Child, by Celia Rees or books similar to it.

Who should buy this book?  High schools or Public Libraries

Where would you shelve it ? YA Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State:  Emily Tricco, Hudson Public Library, Hudson, MA

Date of review:

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