Review: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

October 21, 2013 Book Reviews 2 ★★½

Review: Witchstruck by Victoria LambWitchstruck by Victoria Lamb
Series: The Tudor Witch Trilogy #1
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 24th 2013
Pages: 320
Format: eArc
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads

If she sink, she be no witch and shall be drowned. If she float, she be a witch and must be hanged.

Meg Lytton has always known she is different;that she bears a dark and powerful gift. But in 1554 England, in service at Woodstock Palace to the banished Tudor princess Elizabeth, it has never been more dangerous to practice witchcraft. Meg knows she must guard her secret carefully from the many suspicious eyes watching over the princess and her companions. One wrong move could mean her life, and the life of Elizabeth, rightful heir to the English throne. With witchfinder Marcus Dent determined to have Meg's hand in marriage, and Meg's own family conspiring against the English queen, there isn't a single person Meg can trust. Certainly not the enigmatic young Spanish priest Alejandro de Castillo, despite her undeniable feelings. But when all the world turns against her, Meg must open her heart to a dangerous choice. The Secret Circle meets The Other Boleyn Girl in Witchstruck ,the first book of the magical Tudor Witch trilogy.

I had high hopes for WITCHSTRUCK. I love books and movies about the Tudor period in history. It’s so deliciously scandalous so the addition of witchcraft and magic to an already thrilling story seemed a winner. Sadly though WITCHSTRUCK fell flat for me and I wasn’t as invested in the story as I would have liked.

Meg Lytton is handmaiden to Lady Elizabeth after she is stripped of her HRH title by Queen Mary and banished to Woodstock Palace under the watchful eye of Sir Henry Bedingfield. While attending to her duties, Meg secretly practises her magic skills under the tutelage of her aunt Jane. A tense situation as the witch-hunter Marcus Dent is always nearby and his interest in Meg is far from professional. With Anne Boleyn executed for treason and accusations of witchcraft that are hinted at as being real, Elizabeth’s life is also in Meg’s hands as for any accusation in her direction will also lay squarely at the feet of the future queen. The arrival of Father Vasco and his novice, the handsome and mysterious Alejandro adds to Meg’s problems. Can she hone her skills to protect herself and keep Elizabeth safe as rumblings of a Protestant revolution grow ever louder?

I liked Meg as an MC. She was intelligent, brave and loyal although sometimes her loyalties to the Lady Elizabeth and her family clashed creating danger for her both her position and her life. Her relationship with Elizabeth was interesting, it was just as a servant, she was also a real friend and they had an almost sisterly relationship which I would have liked to see develop more.

Historical fiction is always tricky, it’s difficult to find a balance between how much information to give to set the scene but not strangle the story. At times I felt the pacing was too slow moving for me. I’ve read a lot of fiction based on this time period and I found it frustrating that WITCHSTRUCK seemed to be the basic story of Elizabeth I with moments of witchery stuck in here and there. While I found the story interesting in its own right, I’m afraid it didn’t add anything to the story of that period of history and I felt Meg’s magick troubles could have been set in any time period. I understand however that this is a trilogy and therefore one cannot expect the “game to be given away” in the first book but I can’t help wishing for *more*.

I was 2/3 of the way through before I felt the plot picked up and any real storyline came together. Up until that point there was no urgency and it seemed to be the day to day chores of a palace maid with some spells thrown in and flirtations with a novice from a religious order. When accusations of witchcraft are thrown at Meg and the despicable Marcus Dent applies pressure then things grew infinitely more interesting. The sub-plot of gathering support for Elizabeth and the overthrow of Catholicism for a Protestant takeover was also a high point and the position of Meg’s family at the end of the book does interest me to pick up the second. The character of Alejandro as a love interest for Meg was another high point and I loved their interactions however they were achingly brief and I was left always wanting more.

While WITCHSTRUCK didn’t live up to my expectations, I did enjoy the development of Meg Lytton and particularly the retelling of Elizabeth’s time at Woodstock. Sadly however the addition of witchcraft fell flat for me and didn’t add anything to the overall story. I did enjoy Lamb’s writing style and despite the slow pace it was easy to read and for all its flaws I am interested to see how the story develops and what happens to Meg next.

Danielle

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