ARC Review: Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula BrackstonLamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, Thomas Dunne Books on August 4, 2015
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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Artist Laura Matthews finds her new home in the Welsh mountains to be a place so charged with tales and legends that she is able to reach through the gossamer-fine veil that separates her own world from that of myth and fable.

She and her husband Dan have given up their city life and moved to Blaencwm, an ancient longhouse high in the hills. Here she hopes that the wild beauty will inspire her to produce her best art and will give her the baby they have longed for. But this high valley is also home to others, such as Rhys the charismatic loner who pursues Laura with fervor. And Anwen, the wise old woman from the neighboring farm who seems to know so much but talks in riddles. And then there is Merlin.

Lamp Black, Wolf Grey tells both Laura's story and Merlin's. For once he too walked these hills, with his faithful grey wolf at his heel. It was here he fell in love with Megan, nurse-maid to the children of the hated local noble, Lord Geraint. Merlin was young, at the start of his renowned career as a magician, but when he refuses to help Lord Geraint it is Megan who may pay the price.

In the latest from Paula Brackston, a young artist goes to the Welsh mountains in search of love, but is faced with ancient legends and a mysterious man from the past – Merlin himself.

You can find my reviews of other Paula Brackston novels HERE.

All I have to do is see Paula Brackston’s name on a novel and know that I’m going to love it. Her writing is so rich and engrossing, and as Kirkus Reviews aptly puts it, “full-blooded”. The other books I’ve read by Paula revolve around the lives of female witches, but Lamp Black, Wolf Grey doesn’t have the same ”witch-y” elements as her other novels and instead revolves around a woman in her child-bearing prime and the legendary Merlin.

Growing up, I was obsessed with Arthurian legends and Mary Stuart’s Merlin trilogy was one of my favorites so I was equal parts excited and skeptical going into this novel because of the Merlin aspect. All read and done, LAMP BLACK, WOLF GREY IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE PAULA BRACKSTON NOVELS YET.

This one was a page turner. Every time I set the book down, the suspenseful plot called to me like German chocolate cake. I had no choice but to put everything else on hold and dive back in. This book hooked me like the 2000 film What Lies Beneath starring Michelle Pfeiffer. LB,WG has the same delicious elements (ghost story, revenge, romantic suspense, atmospheric, etc.) that left me feeling completely satisfied after reading it.

The Beguiling of Merlin by Edward Burne-Jones
The Beguiling of Merlin by Edward Burne-Jones

The Merlin aspect is brilliant. What I feared could turn into something cheesy ended up being something completely creative and clever. I really enjoyed how the legend of this ancient warlock tied into the contemporary aspect of the story.

A Magical Welsh Forest.
A Magical Welsh Forest.

This was the second book I’ve read of Paula’s that was set in Wales and I absolutely love the magical way she infused the history and folklore of this region into her work. The world building was marvelous as ever; I felt like I was experiencing something far more delightful than a Thomas Kinkade painting every time I read a description of the main character’s surroundings.

I loved the deep and emotionally stirring adult themes concerning conceiving a child and marital issues that the magical realism flourishes around in the story.

Like in The Silver Witch, the author goes back and forth between an ancient and contemporary world to tell the story of two characters who’s lives are mystically linked. Paula really has a knack for this kind of story telling. This is a device that can be confusing and overwhelming at times, but it is pulled off with ease and clarity under Paula’s hand.

To sum things up, LB, WG was: Magical. Hypnotic. Suspenseful. DELICIOUS.

 

And just for fun….Here’s the trailer to What Lies Beneath. It doesn’t really have anything to do with LB,WG except that this film satisfied me in the same way that Paula’s latest novel did.

 

 

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The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston Review + Giveaway!!!The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, Thomas Dunne Books on April 21, 2015
Pages: 320
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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A year after her husband’s sudden death, ceramic artist Tilda Fordwells finally moves into the secluded Welsh cottage that was to be their new home. She hopes that the tranquil surroundings will help ease her grief, and lessen her disturbing visions of Mat’s death. Instead, the lake in the valley below her cottage seems to spark something dormant in her – a sensitivity, and a power of some sort. Animals are drawn to her, electricity shorts out when she’s near, and strangest of all, she sees a new vision; a boatful of ancient people approaching her across the water.

On this same lake in Celtic times lived Seren, a witch and shaman. She was respected but feared, kept separate from the community for her strange looks. When a vision came to her of the Prince amid a nest of vipers she warned of betrayal from one of his own. Prince Brynach both loved and revered her, but could not believe someone close to him wished him harm, even as the danger grew.

In her own time, Tilda’s grief begins to fade beside her newfound powers and a fresh love. When she explores the lake’s ancient magic and her own she discovers Seren, the woman in her vision of the boat. Their two lives strangely mirror each others, suggesting a strong connection between the women. As Tilda comes under threat from a dark power, one reminiscent of Seren’s prophecy, she must rely on Seren and ancient magic if death and disaster are not to shatter her life once more.

If you’ve ever had any interest in Welsh or Celtic mythology or ancient Welsh culture, you will be obsessed with this book.

The Silver Witch was AWESOME. I was enthralled with how Paula Brackston wraps up her fantasy/supernatural narratives in solid, mesmerizing historical research. You can find some of the historical artifacts she writes about in this novel here.

With spellbinding craft,  Ms. Brackston weaves the life of a contemporary widowed woman with the life of an ancient Celtic female witch/shaman in The Silver Witch. Haunting and alluring mythology is divulged in pieces as the story goes back and forth between Tilda, the main character, and Seren, the ancient shaman to a Celtic prince.

Silver Witch House
The Welsh cottage where Tilda resides, close to a lake.

The pacing of the novel was slow enough to luxuriate in all of the wonderful and creepy aspects of the story, but not so slow that my attention span was tested. Brackston’s character development is masterful and almost overwhelms the senses with the depth and beauty of detail she lends her page people. I found myself reading the book as if I were living the book and that, of course, is a reader’s dream come true.

The crannog on the lake outside of Tilda's cottage where much of the story unfolds.
The crannog on the lake outside of Tilda’s cottage where much of the story unfolds.

There is a thread of romance that had substance without challenging the main plot and made The Silver Witch seem like a really well-rounded read. The tone and the setting of the book are so gloriously mysterious and mystical. Just think of fog hovering over a lake and tinkling wind-chimes playing atonal melodies or a Lydian mode to get a sense of the feel of this book.

This was my second novel of Paul Brackston’s to read, and I cannot wait to burn my way through the rest of her books. You can find my review of The Midnight Witch here.

Enter below for a chance to WIN a FINISHED COPY of The Silver Witch, courtesy of St. Martin’s Press. 

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Monarch Madness: The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston + GIVEAWAY!The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, Thomas Dunne Books on March 25, 2014
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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"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.

monarch

 

Okay, so this book doesn’t technically involve a monarch BUT it does involve a Duke and Duchess, so I’ve decided to include this review and the giveaway hosted by St.Martin’s Press.

I had not had the pleasure of reading one of Paula Brackston’s books until The Midnight Witch, and I cannot believe it took me this long to get around to it.

I can’t imagine a more magical combination for a Historical Fiction lover and all around genre lover than what Ms. Brackston has merged together in this book. We have: Royalty, World War I, Witches, Ghosts, Bohemia, Romance, and CATS. ——-Yes, you read that correctly; all of those luscious elements are embodied in this book.

Lilith has two very separate lives; she’s a Duchess and she’s the head witch of her coven. A necromancer coven. Lilith’s coven communes with the dead and can bring the departed back to life and use spirits as guides and helpers. Lilith keeps her witch side under the cloak of night, but both of her worlds end up colliding in this novel. The paranormal and the mundane become inextricably linked as Lilith discovers a sinister plot that will harm those she loves most.

And then she looks up and spies Bram, and her green eyes shine, and the smile with which she greets him warms his heart. As soon as she reaches him he snatches up her hand and presses it to his lips. For a moment they stand close, without speaking, desire fizzing between them.

The romance that spans the novel is beautiful and bohemian-like. Lilith is torn between the gentelman that is right for her status, and the one that is right for her heart.

I really enjoyed Brackston’s characters, and felt like they had a familiarity to them. The way the story unfolds was reminiscent of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour. The Midnight Witch had a very epic feel and pace to it. The writing was beautiful and lyrical, but I would have liked a little more of the time period to have been captured as far as what was going on outside of Lilith’s circle. The part in the summary that mentions World War I was a huge pull-factor for me, but what is captured of it in the story is not satisfying for someone who really enjoys this time period.

Overall, I really liked this book and was inspired to read more of Brackston’s work. Full of rich descriptive detail and wonderfully crafted sentences, The Midnight Witch was a pleasure to read. ENTER BELOW for a finished Paperback copy of The Midnight Witch that includes a SNEAK PEAK at Paula’s forthcoming novel, The Silver Witch!

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