Review: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

Saturday, August 11, 2012
Title: Witchstruck
Author: Victoria Lamb
Genre: young-adult, historical fiction, supernatural fiction
Series: Tudor Witch #1
Pages: 368 (paperback edition)
Published: July 2012
Source: from author for a fair and honest review
Rating: 4/5

Meg Lytton has always known of her dark and powerful gift. Raised a student of the old magick by her Aunt Jane, casting the circle to see visions of the future and concocting spells from herbs and bones has always been as natural to Meg as breathing. But there has never been a more dangerous time to practise the craft, for it is 1554, and the sentence for any woman branded a witch is hanging, or burning at the stake.

Sent to the ruined, isolated palace of Woodstock to serve the disgraced Elizabeth, daughter of Henry VIII and half-sister of Queen Mary, Meg discovers her skills are of interest to the outcast princess, who is desperate to know if she will ever claim the throne. But Meg's existence becomes more dangerous every day, with the constant threat of exposure by the ruthless witchfinder Marcus Dent, and the arrival of a young Spanish priest, Alejandro de Castillo, to whom Meg is irresistibly drawn - despite their very different attitudes to her secret.

Thrilling and fast-paced, this is the first unputdownable story in a bewitching new series.

Full disclosure: I am GoodReads/Twitter friends with Victoria and she sent me this novel in exchange for a review. However much I like her (and that is very much!), this did not affect my impression of the novel nor my review for it.  

Witchstruck is the addicting and fast-paced tale of Meg Lytton, a burgeoning witch of substantial ability during one of the worst times and places to be such a one -- 1554 England, under the super Catholic reign of Queen Mary I. A lively jaunt into an alternate history of Old Blighty, complete with several famous historical characters and cameos (John Dee! Philip of Spain!), this first-in-a-series and detailed read is sure to sate the appetites of Tudorphiles of all ages. Fans looking for a new, fresh spin on a favorite era have no further to look than this "magick" infused offering from Victoria Lamb. Supernatural historical fiction is fast emerging as a favorite genre of mine, and this one particularly will be very memorable long after I've read more.

There's a lot to love in these nearly 370 pages of magick, witchfinders, *really* forbidden love, and betrayal. Protagonist and narrator Meg is one of those things. She is a great main character from the get-go; her presentation is nicely developed and well rounded throughout the duration of the novel. Meg grows, learns, and her characterization is deftly handled. This is a girl who manages to be smart, fallible, realistic, and proactive. Meg may stumble and make (big! calamitous!) mistakes, but one thing you cannot accuse this headstrong witch of being is passive. I love a heroine who can (and like here) does rescue herself, and Meg is frequently the hero of the novel.

I love when historical fiction authors aren't afraid to mix things up and bring new ideas to the fore. Count Victoria Lamb among those not afraid to veer off the beaten path. Not only is there a moderate magic aspect to Witchstruck, other areas are just as unique, and engaging, as well. I've read very few Tudor-set novels that have a non-English (Irish/Scottish don't count!) love interest, but this is one of them! While I do think that Alejandro (a Spanish priest-in-training no less!) and Meg's connection felt a bit premature and rushed the first quarter, each character grows quite naturally into their very forbidden and illicit attraction to one another. I appreciate how sparingly the romance aspect is used in the novel - it's clear plot point between Meg and Alejandro, but it doesn't choke or overwhelm up the  real storyline of the novel in unwanted angst and melodrama.

 Alejandro, Meg, and especially Elizabeth, the future Queen, in her not-often-enough appearances, all spring to life under Lamb's talented pen. These are well-rendered versions of historical and fictional characters, ones that made me care about them and invest in their story early on. A diverse and distinctive cast are one of the best things about Witchstruck, the fast pacing, the unforeseen twists and turns -- all add up to a very readable and very engrossing novel. I did feel that certain ideas and phrases were a bit repetitive, but Victoria Lamb moves her plot forward quickly, with a dab hand for evoking a realistic, easily-imagined setting for her characters to inhabit.

This was one novel that I wished was even longer! I could've happily kept reading Witchstruck for another 100, 150, 200 pages. It's just so readable - I was done with Meg and her story much faster than I was ready for. What is there is more than enough to satisfy readers - the ending shown felt entirely appropriate and concluded the main plotline of book one in the series, despite the open-ended nature of how things fell out. Cliffhanger or no, I would've NEED book two quite desperately now. The wait for the anticipated sequel is far too long - the touch of foreshadowing (the rat?! MD?!) just added more impetus to my need to see what happens next for Meg and Elizabeth at Court.

I read a lot of Tudor historical fiction - that era/family is one of my long-standing historical passions - and this is a neat and well-handled addition to my "best of" pile. While some books pick sides and favorites (Mary or Elizabeth), this one will continue to stand out among the others for its seamless incorporation of the supernatural, slight as though that may be, and for the strong, active, and well-rounded heroine. Witchstruck is undoubtedly a promising first addition to the series Victoria Lamb is cooking up and I'm eagerly awaiting the events of round two.


  1. Wow, fantastic review, Jessie!(: I haven't heard of this one before, but I definitely want to check it out now! I love historical fiction and especially when its mixed in with supernatural elements, it can be excellent! I'm definitely looking forward to reading this myself - thanks for sharing! :D

    Ivy Book Bindings

    1. It's so good! If you like supernatural-flavored hist fic, I'd most definitely give this one a go!

  2. Thanks for this lovely review, Jessie. I'm really glad you enjoyed Witchstruck so much. The series is called 'Tudor Witch', by the way. It doesn't say so on the book, I know, but that's what the publisher is calling the series.


    1. It's a great book! I am making my sister read it next, and then my best friend. Now onto The Queen's Secret! :)

      And thank you, I will go edit that information right now!


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