Review: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb

October 3, 2013 3 - 3.5 Stars, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Victoria Lamb, Witches 3 ★★★½

Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb
Series: The Tudor Witch Trilogy # 1
Published by Harlequin Teen on September 24, 2013
Genres: Historical FIction, Paranormal
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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.
My knowledge of the Tudor period primarily comes from the Showtime series, The Tudors, the wonderful film, Elizabeth, starring Cate Blanchett, and the occasional historical fiction novel.  In other words, my knowledge is not exactly extensive, and I approached Witchstruck with the desire to be entertained and without any thought of wanting to nitpick for accuracy.  Obviously, since Lamb decided to feature a witch living alongside the future Queen Elizabeth, we know that this is not intended to be a biography.  Lamb’s attempt to make this an entertaining work of historical fiction set in the Tudor period was a very nice success.  (I apologize in advance if I misinterpret any actual events.  I will place all blame on Cate Blanchett.)

Here are the bits that I know to be accurate that Lamb included in the story.  Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth are half-sisters and daughters of the deceased King Henry VIII.  Mary’s mother was the King’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  Henry divorced Catherine to marry Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, and I think we all know how that ended.  Queen Mary was a devout Catholic and Elizabeth was a Protestant, reflecting the religious divide in the country at the time.  Mary believed that Elizabeth would lead a rebellion against her, and she imprisoned Elizabeth for a time to protect her reign.

Where Lamb begins to take liberties with history is with the young witch, Meg Lytton, a maid to Elizabeth.  Meg is still attempting to learn the extent of her powers.  However, she must keep her powers hidden because being exposed as a witch will lead to her hanging or possibly an even more gruesome death.  Elizabeth is aware of Meg’s powers and approaches the situation pragmatically.  She’s happy for Meg to use powers that will benefit her, but she does not want Meg to do anything that will prevent her (Elizabeth) from taking the throne from Mary.

A heavy focus of the story is on a man named Marcus Dent.  I’ll go ahead and call him a monster, because he does not possess a single redeeming quality.  He’s a witch-finder, which is explanation enough, but he also happily tortures them to death with no evidence.  This charmer also has his eyes set on Meg.  This whole plot line was the weakest of the story, and I think the book could have improved without it.  I understand the need to show the persecution of suspected witches, but one scene where Dent attempted to rape Meg at the same time he insists he’s going to marry her was so distasteful, and it didn’t add much to the story.

Much better were the political maneuverings in which Meg aided Elizabeth.  This fictional Elizabeth could be bossy and petulant and not exactly regal, but at times, we saw glimpses of the self-assured woman who would become one of England’s longest-reigning monarchs.  There were interesting parallels between the fictional Lytton family and the actual Boelyn family.  In some films and novels, Anne’s family is portrayed as a group of schemers, using Anne to gain Henry’s favor.  While successful for a time, Henry eventually destroyed Anne and her family.  In Witchstruck, Meg’s family behaves with a similar lack of regard for Meg, seeming to view her only as a tool to advance their family’s desires.

I’m looking forward to the additional books in this series, which will hopefully show Meg by Elizabeth’s side as she takes the throne.

Note: An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review posted at Goodreads.


3 Responses to “Review: Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb”

  1. Kristen Williams

    I’ve seen this one mentioned a couple times but until about last week I’d not heard of it. The rape bit scares me and almost makes me not want to read this but the other aspects seem interesting. Too bad the bad guy seems to be so one dimensional. Perhaps the second book will build upon this one and be better overall. Great review! I don’t think you messed up any of the history aspects…but I’m not well versed myself.

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