Book Review: A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan #SpooktasticReads

Summary:

After Grandmére Ursule gives her life to save her tribe, her magic seems to die with her. Even so, her family keeps the Old Faith, practicing the spells and rites that have been handed from mother to daughter for generations. Until one day, Ursule’s young granddaughter steps into the circle, and magic flows anew.

From early 19th century Brittany to London during the Second World War, five generations of witches fight the battles of their time, deciding how far they are willing to go to protect their family, their heritage, and ultimately, all of our futures.

Goodreads

Thoughts:

This book was a bit unexpected but I ended up liking it a lot. I’ll admit that part of the unexpected bit is because I’m terrible about reading blurbs haha. If I had I would have known more going in. 🙂

So, let me first talk about the structure of the book because I think that was the most intriguing thing for me. This is a story that starts back in the early 1800s with a group of women and their families that have moved from France into England in order to escape persecution. They come from a long family line of witches. We follow the youngest sister and the story of her life. Then we go to following her daughter as she grows up and her own trials and tribulations. And then her daughter’s daughter. And so on. We go through the generations all the way up through WWII. Now, this much is revealed by the blurb. But it’s interesting that each of these sections, detailing the lives of a particular woman, are more like interconnected shorts than one continuous story. And that the protagonist in one may be an antagonist in another. Each of these stories felt consistent in the way they were told, despite the protagonists very much being their own characters with their own flair for life which helped hold the book together as a whole.

I love that this book centered women protagonists, keeping them at the heart of the story. It also showed many different kinds of women and that all women have the same hopes and dreams or want to play the same roles in life. Although, if I’m being 10% honest it could have taken that even further. One of the things that I didn’t love is how the magic, something in their blood, was something that was always going to dictate certain things in their lives. Parts of it was inescapable for them. The need to have a daughter and pass on the knowledge of the craft was almost like something that was against their will. I also have many feelings about gender based magic in that, basically, it sucks. I don’t understand why the men didn’t also inherit this craft. I get that it’s a story about women but women weren’t the only ones persecuted as witches so…. this just feels like lazy writing to me in some ways.

Because of the way this book is structured as a bunch of shorts strung together the pacing is a little all over the place in that it doesn’t build to a single climax and there’s many more slice of life moments sprinkled throughout the stories. This was okay for me because I don’t always need books to go about things in the usual ways. Also, I do enjoy some good slice of life moments.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good read! I’m not sure exactly what I expected with this book but I’m mostly glad with what I found here. Will definitely read more of Louisa Morgan’s witch books in the future. 3.5/5 stars.

21 thoughts on “Book Review: A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan #SpooktasticReads

  1. dinipandareads says:

    Huh, for some reason every time I look at this cover I think it’s non-fiction? 😂 Haha I’m so weird. This sounds like a pretty unique read although I don’t know how I’d feel about how it’s structured as a bunch of shorts coz I tend to struggle with that. Though I don’t recall ever reading a book about gender-based magic before, which sounds simultaneously intriguing and annoying 😅

  2. Tammy says:

    I had a similar reaction to this book. I actually love multi generational stories but it felt repetitive at times, because it seems like the exact same thing happened to each daughter. I highly recommend The Witch’s Kind, its been my favorite of her books so far😁

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yes, repetitive at times for sure. Like everyone had the same ‘mission’ and that just got annoying after a bit, but there were other things that I did enjoy about it. I’ll definitely be reading her other witch books!

  3. Zezee says:

    I look forward to trying this one day. The structure makes me think of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi where each chap focuses on a different character/narrated by a different character but all connects. Novels like that make me kinda think of them as a short story collection.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Huh. Not familiar with that one but yeah it’s sort of like that. It could be a short collection from my perspective, or maybe a set of novellas/novellettes. I did think it was interesting though!

  4. maddalena@spaceandsorcery says:

    Much as I like stories that follow generations of a family, your description of the storytelling as a sequence of short stories does not seem to work very well for the overall narrative flow. Still, it’s an interesting concept and worth taking a peek at… 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    • waytoofantasy says:

      It still flows fairly well from one to the next but there are sometimes a time skip between one and the other and that did throw me off once or twice. It was pretty interesting though!

  5. Mary Drover says:

    I’m also horrible at reading blurbs, and half the time, I spend the first 100 pages of a book like, wait WHAT, exactly, is going on? I always have to read the summary several times in the bookstore before buying because I forget so quickly. This one sounds so interesting, though, and now it’s glaring at me a bit more from my shelf.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Hahaha yes exactly! When I used to browse bookstores I DID read the blurbs but now I buy online most of the time and off people’s recommendations so I completely miss the blurbs most of the time now.
      It was interesting for sure! I’m looking forward to checking out her other witch books.

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