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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Magical Monday: Witch Hill by Marcus Sedgwick (and a Midwinterblood sneak peek)

Title: Witch Hill
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Publisher: Orion
Published: 2001
Genre: Children's gothic fantasy

Find it at Amazon UK

The Blurb says...
The fire was a family tragedy that will always haunt Jamie.



And there is something else going on in the village of Crownhill. Something terrifying to do with an evil old hag who gets into his dreams, a scared girl, the victim of a witch hunt. Jamie senses her presence all around. If only he could cross the barriers of time and save her . . .


A present-day boy, a seventeenth-century girl, an ancient crone: for a single moment their lives are fused by fire. And as the dark secrets of Crownhill and its witches are revealed, Jamie confronts his worst fears in order to free himself from the horrors of the past.


My verdict: haunting and lyrical. Highly recommended for 11+
This first person narrative of a boy who is trying to cope with disaster, interspersed with historical fragments, had me gripped from the start. It centres on Jamie, staying with relatives in the aftermath of a fire, but the story shifts to focus more and more on his creepy dream of an old hag, his new surroundings and their strange and oddly compelling folklore. Sedgwick's writing is lyrical and haunting, drawing you into the strangeness by rooting it all in visceral reality.

I will absolutely be seeking out a lot more of Sedgwick's work in the future and am looking forward to reading Midwinterblood, one of Indigo's new list, which will be out on October 6th.

I am always happy reading books which reference folklore and superstition, going beyond the obvious and weaving a range of ideas, beliefs and practices into a single narrative. That's one of the things I appreciated about Witch Hill, and since Midwinterblood ranges across over a thousand years, I am sure this will be just as satisfying.

Midwinterblood press release description:

What would you sacrifice for someone you've loved for ever?

Have you ever had the feeling that you've lived another life? Been somewhere that has felt totally familiar even when you've never been there before, or felt that you've known someone even though you are meeting them for the first time? Eric and Merle are lovers, tragically torn apart, but whose souls have been searching for each other for ten centuries, longing to be reunited ...

Witch Hill is my tenth British Books Challenge review

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