A sweeping historical saga that traces five generations of fiercely powerful mothers and daughters — witches whose magical inheritance is both a dangerous threat and an extraordinary gift.
Brittany, 1821. After Grand-mère Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her.
Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew.
The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.
But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever – not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.
Swept up in Nanettte’s story, the first of the Orchiére line to relate her story of the traveller or gypsy family of Romani, the tale then progresses through successive daughters and their stories. It is a gift that manifests more in some than others of the line, and while each gift may vary, the necessity of keeping the gift secret does not.
The novel divides into five sections from Nanette to Ursule, Irene, Morwen, and lastly Veronica during WWII.
There is a grimoire and scrying stone handed down to each generation, diligently kept hidden and their secrets only revealed at the time of puberty and sometimes in surprising fashion. There is a marked difference between how a couple of the witches received her powers and how she handled the gift.
Some of the witches were well-developed enough to either earn empathy or apathy. They weren’t bad or wicked, just not as benign as the others merely trying to exist without exposure. It was the story to be told, rather than the description or fleshing of the woman. But, of course, each was to find a mate (whether or not for love), and each of the women was strong-willed and shrewd. Their men either loved and supported them, knew of their powers, or not and several of the male support characters were fleshed sympathetically.
I enjoyed getting to know each of the witches in turn, their time and story in history and the evolution of the line. I was following the fantasy well until it became necessary to push back some hefty disbelief in the final story–that of Veronica during WWII. The storyline, of course, does not disclose a secret history of witchcraft in general, rather than of this particular line.
The conclusion came at a juncture I felt made sense, although left a few issues unresolved and seemed the obvious step into a successive book. I suspect the narrator of this very long audiobook made it a great deal shorter than if I’d read it. She rolled the language beautifully off her tongue and made the whole story dance in the minds’ eye as if it were a kaleidoscope. (I heartily recommend the audiobook version!)
I received this audiobook through my favorite local library and greatly appreciated the opportunity to get to know the author’s style of writing and look forward to delving into another. (I picked this one up specifically because I also requested and received The Age of Witches from NetGalley.) Now I just have to figure out if I’ve ever had a “familiar” but I don’t think so. At least I don’t have to worry about being burned at the stake.
Genre: Historical Italian Fiction, Alternate History Science Fiction, 20th Century Historical Romance, World War II Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hackette Audio
Print Length: 496 pages
Listening Length: 17 hrs 33 mins
Narrator: Polly Lee
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source: Local (Audiobook Selections) Library
Title Link: A Secret History of Witches
Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars
The Author: Louisa Morgan lives and writes and rambles with her familiar, Oscar the 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.
Under the name Louise Marley, she has written a number of other historical fiction novels, as well as fantasy and science fiction. Please visit http://www.louisemarley.com for more information, and to learn more about Oscar!
©2020 V Williams