Witch by Finbar Hawkins
Finbar Hawkins has delivered a confident and accomplished debut with the historical young adult fiction novel, Witch. Quite simply put, Witch is breathtaking. Hawkins writes with a style that is both sparse and lyrical. Chapters are short, dialogue is key and extraneous details are non-existent. The reader can feel, see and hear 17th century England on every page.
The novel tells the story of Evey, also known as Eveline of the Birds, and her younger sister Dill. In the opening pages the sisters watch their mother being beaten to death by self-authorised “witch hunters”. Listening to her dying screams fade behind them, the sisters flee across a bleak landscape to their aunt, leader of a secretive coven.
What follows is a story of revenge, bloodshed, friendship and sisterhood. Evey and Dill lose and find each other multiple times as Evey embarks on a one-woman quest to seek justice. Evey’s fraught relationships with her mother and sister mirror many real life situations; they are universal to any time and any place. Hawkins aims to demonstrate that those we love the most are also the ones that can cause us the most pain. It is up to Evey to come to terms with everything that she has lost, before she can appreciate what she has left. Witch is a quick read and the fast pace makes it difficult to put down. Violence and death are constant themes in the novel however, which make it appropriate for more mature young adult audiences.
Themes: Magic, Witches, Friendship, Sisters, Mothers, Daughters, Witch Hunters, Revenge, Death.