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On her thirteenth birthday, Cess finds a precious locket in one of her chicken coops, a strange discovery that's quickly overshadowed by her best friend William's disappearance two days later. The parson has already started planting ...
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On her thirteenth birthday, Cess finds a precious locket in one of her chicken coops, a strange discovery that's quickly overshadowed by her best friend William's disappearance two days later. The parson has already started planting rumors that the missing boys were bewitched, and the villagers think Cecily may be the culprit.
The only way Cess can prove her innocence is by finding William, but she's soon embroiled in a plot that threatens her world and forces her to draw upon powers she never knew she possessed.
Witchcraft, politics and intrigue combine in this gripping and wonderfully realized novel set in the Somerset of the 1500s.
Cecily Perryn, 13, a lowly poultry girl in 1596 England, discovers a jeweled pendant enclosing a woman's portrait in the Earl of Montacute's hencoops. Her strange find is quickly eclipsed by other matters: Young boys, including her friend William, have been disappearing. Seeking William, Cess makes her way to the town of Yeovil, where Jasper, the innkeeper's son, becomes her reluctant helper. Their search uncovers a plot against Queen Elizabeth I, soon to visit Montacute House. Meanwhile, Cess attracts unwanted attention from the Earl's sinister son after her cousin fabricates a story that Cess practices witchcraft—truer than she knows. Cess' friend, the healer Edith Mildmay, falsely accused of bringing plague and exiled, is a witch, though of a benign Druid-esque variety, and initiates Cess into their practices. A rich portrait of rural life in Elizabethan times emerges—convincingly detailed and seamlessly woven into the narrative fabric—as readers uncover the intertwined secrets of pendant, plot and plague. While Cess' mundane world is entirely believable and always interesting, the witchcraft, with its generically contemporary, New Age feel, is less persuasive. It's only when we lose the witches that the story comes to life. (Historical fantasy. 10-14)
Posted May 9, 2011
Because of what happened in Father of Lies, I was afraid The Coven's Daughter would be pretty much the same. But this gorgeous young-adult debut did not disappoint.
The story begins with Cecily Perynn, a poor poultry girl, beginning her day collecting eggs from under the many hens in Montacute House. When she sticks her hand under a hen, she pulls out a small box. Unsure of what to do with it at first, she quickly opens it to find a beautiful pendant. What a gift for her thirteenth birthday, but who left it there?
Finding trinkets under hens is the least of Cess's problems when a boy is discovered dead in front of the village church. Whispers are spreading through Montacute saying witches have a hand in all this. And because Cess's good friend is called a witch, young Cecily finds fingers pointing her way.
But there's more to it than the Devil and witches. There's corruption brewing just days before the Queen of England visits Montacute House. When Cecily finds her self in the midst of it all, there's only one way her heart will lead her - to the heart of danger.
The Coven's Daughter had an unexpected plot. While I simply expected witches and hanging, I found the plot swerve into politics and poison. Nothing prepared me for the beautiful ending when Cecily uncovers a secret she's wanted to know the answer for since she was a little girl.
Many of you know I'm not a fan of religion hidden in young adult fiction - particularly paranormal. If a book has religion mixed in, so be it, but it should be mentioned in the back. While I expected some religious concepts to come up in The Coven's Daughter, I found none, making this historical fiction novel a 2011 must-read.
I like the earthy tone of the cover and the girl's face fades perfectly with Montacute House below. Even the foliage that peeks in from the sides is significant to the story ;)