Witch Finder

By Ruth Warburton

Book Title: Witch Finder   Author: Ruth Warburton

1. This book caught my eye very quickly. After reading the blurb and examining the cover, I was very intrigued. The novel turned out to be one of the most gripping books that I have read in a while.

The history in this book was quite realistic; the author described the lives of the wealthy, poor, and witches in the 1880's wonderfully. The book helped me to develop a new understanding of how people were often treated in the past, and the story has left me eager to discover more about this particular time period. The book, though creatively written, was very informative and interesting.

After reading this book, I have found myself eager to purchase and read more of the authors work. I loved how exciting the book was, and I enjoyed it a great deal because of the well written text and the captivating storyline. 

I would recommend this book to any keen readers who are interested in witchcraft and its history; the novel is romantic, dramatic and mysterious. It is one of my favourite books that I have read recently, and it helped me to find a new understanding and interest in a new topic and a new genre of book.

By Cheyenne

2. Before I read Witch Finder, Historical fiction was never really ‘my genre'. I was always into the more action-packed novels. And I must admit, I broke the one rule that every reader would be ashamed to confess to; I judged the book by its cover. When you think of historical books, you think of wars, posh language and corsets.  If only I had known just how wrong I was. The blurb gave not so much information that you felt that you knew what was going to happen, but enough to make you dying to read it. The quote:" Sworn to kill the one you love..." was what made it so riveting. I especially love how Warburton went straight into the story and did not waste time trying to set the scene. The way that the chapters kept changing from the two protagonists- Luke Lexton and Rosamund Greenwood - stories' was a nice technique used to give each character a back story. This proved skilful later in the book, as even though we knew the whole story, the central characters did not know each other's stories. When misunderstandings occurred, Warburton's writing left me screaming at the book trying to telepathically tell the characters everything I knew. Of course, it did not succeed.  So, to answer the question "Did I enjoy the book?" Well, even if I said it was absolutely-amazing -and-one- of -the- best -books -I -have- ever- read, it would be an understatement.

Do you think the history in the book was realistic?

If I had to list 3 things that I want people to know about me they would be:

1. I am fanatical about reading

2. I hate shopping


So I knew exactly what kind of atmosphere I was expecting from an 1880's historical novel. I think that this was a difficult book to write, in the sense that if Warburton has become completely focused on the love story, then some of the history aspects may have been lost. However, I really felt that the set was believable. Warburton made me feel as if I was really there with the characters by focusing on the little details. For example, Rosa was appalled at the idea of going anyway without a chaperone, a thought that was very highly valued in those days. Also, the fact that the hierarchy was so strong in those days was quite shocking. The difference between the rich and the poor was terrible and we could see that from how Warburton described the factory conditions. When the poor became ill, there was no hope of survival and I think that was what was so horrific. The fact that there were witches and magic modernised the story a little bit but this was to be expected. There was a part where Rosa and the villain were alone together due to the use of magic, but in 1880 the idea of a man and woman being alone together was unthinkable. However, all in all it was a plausible setting, and a world I loved to go back in time and live in.

Did the book make you want to find out more about history?

Surprisingly, it did, but it was not so much a historical aspect, whereas a scientific one. During the book, one of the characters was seen to get a disease called "phossy jaw". I was baffled as to what this was and looked further into it. I discovered that the right ratio of calcium to phosphorous in your body is very important as it can prevent tooth decay and many other diseases. The book then made sense as the victim was working in a match factory where she was exposed to huge amounts of phosphorous. The fact that people knew that these factories were fatal to any who worked there, but still went there was dreadful. The conditions of the poor were just so awful, that they grabbed any opportunity to help their families, even if it meant death.

Describe a particular character, place or event that you enjoyed

I have a bit of a soft spot for villains. I always try to see the good in them and justify what they do. But in Witch Finder, there was nothing good about the villain. His name was Sebastian Knyvet, and every time I saw his name I shivered even if I could not quite pronounce his surname. The fact that he was such a mystery at the start, led us to believe that he was good. Rosa also seemed to have ‘feelings' for him. But as the book progressed, his intentions became clearer. He was cruel, and he did not care about Rosa at all. We know that he was so cruel toward his mother, and caused her to be confined to her room for the rest of her days. As for his father, well it is a mysterious case as his father supposedly died of working in an experiment. However, I have my suspicions that Sebastian was involved in this as he clearly benefited from the death. But we may never know.

Was there anything you didn't like about the book?

In every book, there are faults, even if there are only a few. In Witch Finder I found that the faults I picked out were very personal to me. The most significant being that in a love story, I need to feel satisfied that the characters truly know each other before they can fall in love. Yes, I am sure that there is such a thing as true love, but even in those cases, you have to feel like the lovers have got to know each other before anything can happen. In the book, I felt that Rosa and Luke did not know each other that well. They had only interacted a few times before they were sure that they loved each other. There was no path or journey that led to the climatic confession. So even though I enjoyed the story very much, I would have preferred a more eventful love story. So, yes in every book there are faults.  But what matters are not the faults, but the successes. And in this story, the successes were stronger than the faults.

By Uma

3. We loved the central idea of this fast-paced story;  a Romeo and Juliet style witch hunt set in the East End of Victorian London,  and the reader does get a real sense of place and a feel for the period the characters are living in and the different ways in which the classes lived. 

The details are convincing, cleverly drawn out by the situations the lead characters find themselves in.  Rosa's once aristocratic family have fallen on hard times and are forced to sell her off into an unwanted marriage to avoid disgrace to the family.   The main characters are quite 3 dimensional.  Witch hunter Luke, disguised as a stable boy intent on revenge for the death of his parents but gradually falling for Rosa while still trying to kill her; Rosa herself, determined to protect her family despite their unfeeling plans for her and Sebastian, who can be as generous with his wealth as he can be cruel.  

This book manages to be at once romantic, dramatic, supernatural and historical and left us wanting to find out more about witchcraft and its history. With the couple forced to make a choice between their loyalty to their parents and their love for each other, this love interest almost dominates the historical aspects of the story and the history becomes a backdrop against which the love story can play out.

By Cramlington Learning Village, Northumberland

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