The International Writers Magazine:YA Review
A Witch in Winter by Ruth Warburton
Hodder ISBN 978-1-444-90409-7
Sam Hawksmoor Review
With a breathless and breezy writing style we meet young Anna who is relocated to a tiny Cornish fishing village from London following her father being made redundant. They arrive at a spooky run down house (known locally at Witch House) that her Dad is hoping to renovate.
Of course Cornish fishing villages are rife with superstition (I used to live in Penryn so I know this for sure). Anna is also apprehensive about making friends at her new school mid-A Levels. Will she fit in; will they like her or hate her?
Her dad finds a half burned old book in the old Aga and it seems to be written in old English or something but it is this old book that changes everything for Anna.
At school she meets Seth - gorgeous boy with a ‘past’ and an illegal tattoo she is informed by her new friends but be warned Seth has a very possessive girlfriend Caroline, the queen bee of school.
Her new found friends come over for a sleepover and they discover the burned book is full of spells! Fuelled by alcohol they try the spells out to ‘bind’ the objects of their affection to them forever.
Next school day, still nursing hangovers Anna discovers Seth has dumped Caroline and is totally in love with her! The spell worked. But only for her, not the other girls.
Anna realises this means trouble for her, not only from Caroline, but she now has the devotion of a boy who doesn’t know he is bewitched. Worse, when she tries to undo the spell she causes lightning to strike the house and leave her half buried alive. Seth is the one to rescue her binding him to her forever!
OK this isn’t neo-realism. It’s a complex little love story about a girl who has discovered she has witch powers and she can even alter the weather. Anna quickly discovers she isn’t alone in the village, there are many others with wicker skills, but for some reason she seems to be the strongest. She needs training. The trouble is who is to train her? Soon a battle will begin between those who want her powers for themselves and those who want her to stay free.
The Witch in Winter is a fun read and a caution about getting exactly what you crave.
More young fiction reviews
As a reader I am a bit alarmed that the police and the local press don’t seem to be aware there are bodies flying off the cliffs and floods in the locality, but hey, it’s Cornwall, they are always slow to catch on down there.
© Sam Hawksmoor May 2012
author of The Repossession