"The dead are seldom silent. All that is required for them to be heard is that someone be willing to listen. I have been listening to the dead all my life."
Lilith is the daughter of the sixth Duke of Radnor. She is one of the most beautiful young women in London and engaged to the city’s most eligible bachelor. She is also a witch.
When her father dies, her hapless brother Freddie takes the title. But it is Lilith, instructed in the art of necromancy, who inherits their father’s role as Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. And it is Lilith who must face the threat of the Sentinels, a powerful group of sorcerers intent on reclaiming the Elixir from the coven’s guardianship for their own dark purposes. Lilith knows the Lazarus creed: secrecy and silence. To abandon either would put both the coven and all she holds dear in grave danger. She has spent her life honoring it, right down to her charming fiancé and fellow witch, Viscount Louis Harcourt.
Until the day she meets Bram, a talented artist who is neither a witch nor a member of her class. With him, she must not be secret and silent. Despite her loyalty to the coven and duty to her family, Lilith cannot keep her life as a witch hidden from the man she loves.
To tell him will risk everything.
Spanning the opulence of Edwardian London and the dark days of World War I, The Midnight Witch is the third novel from New York Timesbestselling author Paula Brackston.Hardcover, 352 pagesExpected publication: March 25th 2014 by Thomas Dunne Books
Source: Publisher in Exchange for an honest review
Two and a half stars: A book with a lot of promise but fell flat with an unbelievable romance.
Lilith stands quietly at the side of her father's grave. Her heart heavy knowing that her father is gone, but she knows she will see him again. She worries not only about her mother, but also her brother who stands to inherit his father's title of duke. Freddie is frail and has developed an opium habit. Lilith's largest fear is that she will secretly inherit her father's biggest legacy. She will become the Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. A role she has been groomed for her whole life. As Lilith stands waiting for the service to end, a dark spirit assaults her mind. Questioning her ability to lead and her brother's sanity. This dark spirit begins speaking to her constantly and it is soon apparent that someone dark and deadly is after the coven. Will Lilith stave off danger and become a strong leader?
What I Liked:
- Early on, I was drawn into the story, intrigued by the secret coven of witches. I liked learning about these witches, their purpose, their rituals and how they functioned. I was completely fascinated by the spells and the ability the witches possessed to speak to the spirits of the dead. I liked everything related to the witches and their craft.
In the beginning, I admired Lilith and her strong character. At an early age, she was taught all the secrets of the coven and prepared for the day she would one day ascend to the position of head witch. At her trial to become head witch, she is challenged by an unknown member and to prove herself worthy she must complete the difficult and dangerous task of summoning a demon. I was totally behind Lilith for the fist half of the book, and I loved her courage and how she stood up and protected those she loved.
I enjoyed that this was an age old tale of good vs. evil. On one side there are the witches of the Lazarus Coven who guard the Elixir, which can bring back someone from the dead. Their arch enemies, the Sentinels, desire to take this Elixir and they will do anything to get it. Headed by the odious Stricklend, they are corrupt and evil and they are truly frightening.
I liked the setting. The story opens in London 1913 on the eve of the World War I. The book later skips ahead and covers some of the terrifying time during the war and then the events that followed after the completion. I enjoyed learning more about how society changed after the end of the war. Maids and servants and the lifestyle of the wealthy slowly phased out.
I was pleased with the resolution. After all the trials and upheavals, Lilith redeems herself and comes through. There is a final epic battle between good and evil, and everything resolves without a bunch of lingering questions or a cliffhanger. This is at this point a stand alone, which is nice.
- I enjoyed the writing. Ms. Brackston pays attention to detail and her style is lovely and detailed.
And The Not So Much:
I so wanted to love this book, but there were so many things that put me off, that I struggled to finish it. The middle portion drags on and on and I found myself disengaging. Then things pick up and get exciting leading up to a terrifying event and a deadly confrontation, then the book skips ahead five years to near the end of the war. I didn't like the rapid jump in time.
I hated the transitions. This book utilizes three points of view: Lilith, Bram and the villain Stricklend. I usually enjoy book with different voices, but I grew frustrated with the way it was done. There was no warning between the character switches. Sometimes the view point would switch in the same paragraph. I though the transitions were jarring and the made the read choppy. I read an ARC copy so this may be corrected a bit in the final copy, but I doubt it.
The romance was unrealistic and unbelievable. Bram, the penniless artist, becomes Lilith's object of desire out of nowhere. It is apparent that Bram is infatuated with Lilith the first time he sees her in the graveyard, but Lilith doesn't care for Bram at their first few encounters as she holds some false prejudices. Then out of nowhere she is suddenly in love with him after he steals a kiss even though she is engaged to marry her life long friend and fellow witch, Louis. To be with Bram is against everything in her upbringing. I struggled with the rapid development of the romance and I never once got behind it as I felt like it was so unrealistic. I hated it! I firmly believe that she should have been with Louis.
My biggest frustration stemmed from the change in Lilith's character. She starts out the book strong and dedicated to her coven. Then she starts making some rash and ridiculous decisions that go against everything she has been raised to believe. For instance, she is never to reveal the secrets of the coven to an outsider, especially as head witch, but before long she is telling Bram her secrets. I completely lost faith in her after some of her decisions, and I found myself disengaging from her. She went from someone I liked and admired to someone I didn't like or trust.
- There was a jarring thing at the end that left me wondering. Early on, I was led to believe that the witches of the coven were born with their powers and then at the end, there is the convenient insertion that says some of the witches were brought into the coven. What??? So if that is the case why wasn't Freddie, Lilith's brother part of the coven? Where did they get their powers then? This was a very puzzling issue that didn't set right with me. I think the author threw it in just to make it work with the romance.
The Midnight Witch was a book that I was excited to read, but unfortunately it ended up being a disappointment. The pacing dragged at times, the main character makes some ridiculous decisions and it has a romance that it is unrealistic. While I liked everything relating to the witches and the author's writing, it wasn't enough to save the read overall. This is a book I can't recommend unless you are a huge fan of the author or you want to take a chance. For me, it had so much potential but fell short in execution.
"If you do not speak your secrets aloud, others will not have the chance to betray you with them."
"If to be in love is to lose one's self then I am as in love as it is possible to be, for I am utterly lost!"
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.