My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Elizabeth Laird is an author capable of very great things. The Garbage King is, quite frankly, superb and I picked up The Witching Hour on the strength of my experience of this book.
The Witching Hour (also published in the US as The Betrayal of Maggie Blair) is a fine, exciting and moving tale of seventeenth century Scotland. Maggie and her Grandmother are accused of witchcraft on their remote island of Bute and Maggie’s world begins to break apart from that point.
Laird is a capable, strong writer who packs her work with a world of historical detail. And, in The Witching Hour, she’s created a believable, quivery, heartfelt novel that is perhaps a little bit difficult to get engaged in initially but rewards the persevering reader with an exciting coming of age story.
I liked Maggie, the central heroine. She’s believable and breathes from the page. I also had a lot of love for her supporting cast. Something Laird is very good at is giving humanity to the most unlovable of characters. The Witching Hour has, at its heart, a message of redemption and of belief which is perhaps fitting considering the topic of Covenanters.
The only issue I had with The Witching Hour was the usage of the foreword. Forewords are tricky beasts. They are the first thing the reader reads and then colour the reading from that point in. I felt Laird did herself a disservice by holding back The Witching Hour until she’d detailed the historical context of the novel. Her writing is strong enough to stand by itself.
I would recommend The Witching Hour for readers of twelve years and above. Although a different genre, I would also suggest readers who enjoyed The Witching Hour should try The Garbage King to experience more of this fine author.