Return to the world of A Secret History of Witches with the bewitching tale of Ursule Orchière and her discovery of magical abilities that will not only change the course of her life but every generation that comes after her.
There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.
Ursule Orchière has been raised on stories of the great witches of the past. But the only magic she knows is the false spells her mother weaves over the gullible women who visit their fortune-telling caravan. Everything changes when Ursule comes of age and a spark of power flares to life. Thrilled to be chosen, she has no idea how magic will twist and shape her future.
Guided by an ancient grimoire and the whispers of her ancestors, Ursule is destined to walk the same path as the great witches of old. But first, the Orchière magical lineage must survive. And danger hovers over her, whether it’s the bloodlust of the mob or the flames of the pyre.
A tale of magic and fate, triumph and heartbreak, and the powerful bonds between mothers and daughters unfold in the late 1700s in this spellbinding novel from master storyteller, Louisa Morgan.
I’d guess it’s difficult to find any area around the world that has not at some point furthered the supposition of witches and witchcraft as the answer to unexplained phenomena, particularly any country with a history of gypsies, many now called Travellers. People, different, are labeled and viewed with suspicion.
This novel picks up the story of Ursule Orchière in her early teen years as she supports her mother in the telling of fortunes. Witch-hunting, however, is an ever-present danger and her mother Agnes doesn’t escape the notice of the superstitious villagers, particularly of those in the church seeking higher status. The ugly dispatch of witches by burning at the stake puts another notch on his mitre.
When her mother is dragged off one night to suffer that fate, Ursule must act without the aid of those in her clan. She is forced to flee her caravan in an effort to rescue her mother, aided by a clan canine and her familiar, a raven. But it’s an experience that changes her mother forever and Ursule is not yet aware of the magic she possesses.
They are fortunate in their circumstances, finding a safe haven on a farm where Ursule gradually realizes she has been chosen out of the Orchière line to carry the secrets, the power, the incantations, and the whispered knowledge of her ancestors. She has recovered the grimoire and studies the pages intently, gradually adding to her experience of the philters and potions.
“…the cost of magic did not always match its reward.”
As Ursule and Agnes cement their position on the farm, tending animals, Ursule finds a way to subtly protect and increase productivity, sweetening crops, as Agnes tends her gardens. When Ursule feels the biological clock hammering, mother and daughter conspire on arranging a relationship with a local traveling sightless musician. The relationship yields a daughter.
The plot expands to cover the travails of three generations while preserving the fourth. The author writes with convincing authority, three times three times, slipping in the prose, mixing the languages of French, Breton, and Romani, hardships, practices, and heavily scented descriptions of the land. Overlain all, the cloud of the imminent terror of being found out.
This novel might be considered a prequel to A Secret History of Witches, released September 17, 2017, that I reviewed early last year. That audiobook got me started with this series and I discovered The Age of Witches last year as well. This might also work well as a standalone. The series spurs the imagination and conjures scenes of history both horrific and fascinating. I’m hooked and happy to recommend. Currently on pre-order.
I received uncorrected advance content collected for this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Four point Five Stars
Genre: Women’s Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Magical Realism
Print Length: 446 pages
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her Border Terrier on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A musician and a yogini, she finds inspiration in the artistic environment where she makes her home. [Amazon]
Louisa Morgan is the author of A Secret History of Witches, The Witch’s Kind, and The Age of Witches. She’s looking forward to the publication of The Great Witch of Brittany in 2022!
Louisa is a yogini, a musician, a mom, and a dog lover. She lives in scenic Northern Idaho with her family and her spirit familiar, Oscar the Border Terrier. Visit her at www.louisamorgan.net. [Goodreads]
©2021 V Williams