Published by St. Martin's Press on March 25, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal Romance
Sexual Content: Mild sexual situations.
Reviewed by: Megan
"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.
Downton Abbey by way of Anne Rice, THE MIDNIGHT WITCH is a touching period romance, set against a backdrop of a dying class system and a secret magical war over the ability to raise the dead. Though the exact purpose of the Lazarus Coven and their sorcerer rivals, the Sentinels, is vague, Brackston does an excellent job of painting Lilith Montgomery’s classic struggle between her duty to her craft and her heart.
Dense language coupled with present tense made the beginning a difficult read, and felt forced at times. After the first seventy-five pages or so, I caught onto the rhythm, and it was easier to step into the story and visualize the scenery. I particularly loved the descriptions of the Great Chamber where the Lazarus Coven performed their rituals, as well as the chaotic Mangan house where Bram lived, and, later, the sanctuary Lilith built for herself. Plot gave way to imagery in this novel, and there were a number of characters who left large impressions even in small roles, like Gudrun, Mangan’s German mistress, and Louis Harcourt, Lilith’s Unlucky Childhood Friend and fellow witch. With so much of the book dedicated to the year of 1913-1914, I wish Brackston had spent an equal amount of time exploring Lilith’s life during World War I, especially the way the high casualty rate affected her coven of necromancers. It seemed that their skills were in high demand, but the period was glossed over, like Brackston just wanted to skip to the end.
Though I wasn’t personally swept off my feet by Bram Cardale, the penniless, non-magic painter, I was moved by the way Lilith fell for him, the way she simply couldn’t help herself despite everything going against them. She knew that there wasn’t any way to make it work, but she dared to hope anyway, so I hoped with her. The conflict between one’s responsibilities and following one’s heart rarely leads to a happy ending. Brackston draws out Lilith’s conflict and maintains the tension of her ultimate decision throughout the novel, so that even by the end, the reader isn’t sure what outcome to hope for.Series Titles:
- Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough
- The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston