A secret history of witches catches attention of fiction lovers

Lillian Roberts, Reporter

This review contains spoilers and themes of death.

“A Secret History of Witches” is an historical fiction fantasy book about the bloodline of the Orchiéres. There are five separate mini books combined into this book, with each about a different granddaughter. The books start out by telling the story of how their grandmother, Ursule, had died while fleeing an angry mob of villagers who had found out that they were witches. Then, after the death of their grandmother, they start to tell the stories of the granddaughters. Beginning with the book of Nanette, then the book of Ursule, Irène, Morwen and ending with the book of Veronica. 

The book was enjoyable to read because there were so many characters. Usually in a book, it gets confusing to keep track of the characters, but with this one, it was easy. Basically, the reader just gets a refreshing new story to read after reading the previous chapters. 

The book is 484 pages long which is a relatively longer book, but not huge; keeping in mind there are multiple different stories in the book. 

One of the best things about this book is that each character kind of follows in their mother’s footsteps but with their own twist. For example, one of the daughters was born into the poor Orchiéres family and wanted to be a lady and have a rich husband. Well, she got her dream and had a daughter, but, her daughter would have rather spent her days riding horses and doing nature-related activities. They were a true opposite mother daughter duo which was interesting to read about and see the conflicts they would have. The mother had forbidden her daughter to go horseback riding and go to the stables while the daughter would do everything in her power to leave.  

Another cool thing about this book is that each main character is female. There are side characters who are males, but no male is ever a main character. Usually, the love interests of the daughters aren’t mentioned much. 

Most of the daughters have a familiar as well. Usually a familiar is an animal that assists a witch in her duties. Each daughter doesn’t have one but most of them did have one such as a horse or a fox. 

Another interesting thing about this story is the way the witches get their magic/practice magic. Grandmother Ursule passed down her grimoire [a spell book] and a crystal. Both are the sources of their power and knowledge, but do not have to be together in order to work fully. Throughout the book, a daughter usually runs away and takes both, but some of the daughters only get to take either the crystal or grimoire. The daughter always ends up with both somehow.

The stories of each daughter are extremely repetitive though. Each daughter gets told of her magic and gets offensive and doesn’t believe her mother. After so long, the daughter will start to believe and participate in a magic ceremony. The daughters then hold their secret and practice magic. The bad part is that all of them have used their magic to get their desired love interest and to bear a child. Each daughter meets a strange man who is weirdly handsome to them. Usually a traveler shows up and swoons the daughter and ends up with a child who hates her mother.  

Favorite characters of mine would definitely be Irene and Nanette because of the fact Irene was such an awful person and kind of broke the basic mother stereotype each daughter had. Nanette was a good character too because of the fact she was the first character we truly got and was a good starter. Nanette was also one of the only daughters who truly got to work in a proper cave with the grimoire and crystal and have other witches alongside her.