Book review: “A Secret History of Witches” by Louisa Morgan

by Rebecca Henderson Palmer on November 27, 2017

Louisa Morgan follows several generations of Orchière (Orchard) women from France to Cornwall to Wales and London. From the early 1800s to WWII, each Orchière mother faces the difficult tasks of telling their headstrong daughter about their secret, magical inheritance of witchcraft. Whether in Catholic France or Anglican England, the Orchière women are never safe from the religious and suspicious, and the tensions between the women from Nanette to Ursule to Irene to Morwen and finally Veronica echo across the generations. Some give up everything for love. Another uses the craft to get the wealth and position she craves but discovers that her power costs her dearly. Another eschews the craft in order to obtain the happiness she desires, and another comes to learn of her gifts many years after her mother’s death. The magical inheritance these women share replays generation after generation and has personal, as well as historical, implications.

This book is well written and the multi-generational aspect is appealing. The characters feel a bit flat, however. The reader sees the same basic struggles played out again and again with each mother-daughter pairing, and the results feel very predictable. Not a lot of tension, not a lot of depth into the powers the women held (except for basic potions and scrying), I feel like there is lost potential here. The book is a pleasant read, and I did like the emphasis on mothers and daughters (a relationship that often feels neglected), but nothing that will really transport you into the narrative.

I received a free copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Amazon link is here.

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