The Midnight Witch [NOOK Book]

Overview


Midnight is the most bewitching hour of them all?

From Paula Brackston, the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch?s Daughter and The Winter Witch, comes a magical tale that is as dark as it is enchanting.  Set in high society Edwardian England, The Midnight Witch is the story of a young witch who faces the choice between love and loyalty to her coven?
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The Midnight Witch

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Overview


Midnight is the most bewitching hour of them all…

From Paula Brackston, the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch, comes a magical tale that is as dark as it is enchanting.  Set in high society Edwardian England, The Midnight Witch is the story of a young witch who faces the choice between love and loyalty to her coven…
"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."
Lady Lilith Montgomery 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 on his 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 engagement to her childhood friend 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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
03/15/2014
On the eve of World War I, Lady Lilith Montgomery goes through two major life events: the loss of her beloved father, the Duke of Radnor, and taking his place as the head of the Lazarus Coven. Lilith struggles with her new responsibilities and expectations (both as a witch and as an aristocrat), defying both when she falls in love with aspiring artist Bram Cardale, who belongs to neither her coven nor her class. The coven is responsible for safeguarding an elixir that can grant life itself, but there are rival necromancers who want it for their own. VERDICT Depicting a time of great social change allows Brackston (The Witch's Daughter) to create a pleasing character arc for Lilith, who seems of her time but still willing to defy convention to achieve happiness. There are balls and gowns as well as slums and opium dens, all painting a picture of a lost age, with just enough magic to keep things exciting for fantasy fans. [See Prepub Alert, 9/30/13.]
Publishers Weekly
01/06/2014
Bestseller Brackston follows The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch with another sturdy historical paranormal. In 1913 London, on the eve of WWI, Lady Lilith Montgomery takes the title of Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven after her father’s death. Lilith and her fiancé, fellow witch Louis Harcourt, must defend the secret of the elixir of life from rival sorcerers, but both are distracted when impoverished artist Bram Cardale wins Lilith’s heart. War and the schemes of her enemies leave Lilith isolated, but loosening social conventions allow her to find love with Bram and success in her pursuits. Brackston lightly layers in unusual historical locales, like war-torn Uganda, but otherwise provides the expected charms of Edwardian balls, decadent slumming in opium dens, and repentant work in wartime soup kitchens. Her characters also fit convention (unsure prodigy, flighty socialite, spurned yet noble suitor) but their sincerity and humor make them worth following to the end. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
Praise for The Winter Witch

“A sensitive, beautifully written account… If the Brontë sisters had penned magical realism, this would have been the result.” –The Guardian (London)

“There’s a whiff of Harry Potter in the witchy conflict—a battle between undeveloped young magical talent and old malevolence—at the heart of this sprightly tale of spells and romance, the second novel from British writer Brackston (The Witch’s Daughter, 2011)…. Love of landscape and lyrical writing lend charm, but it’s Brackston’s full-blooded storytelling that will hook the reader.” —Kirkus

“Brackston delivers an intimate paranormal romance that grounds its fantasy in the reality of a 19th century Welsh farm.” –Publishers Weekly

“Brackston's imaginative story is fascinating, polished and intriguing.” –CurledUp.com

“Paula Brackston’s Winter Witch is a whimsical and mystical tale that’s part romance part mystery part fantasy and all extraordinary. Her beautiful narrative moves flawlessly throughout the story… This unique novel will appeal to fans of a multitude of genres from historical to fantasy and will engage fans of all ages as well.” — www.thereadingfrenzy.blogspot.com/

Praise for The Witch’s Daughter

“Lushly written with a fascinating premise and an enthralling heroine, The Witch’s Daughter will linger long in memory after the last page has been savored.  Highly recommended.” — Sara Poole, author of The Borgia Betrayal

"A beautifully written, brilliantly crafted page-turner that completely invests you in the lives and loves of the witch's daughter. A true reading event." —Melissa Senate, author of The Love Goddess' Cooking School

“A lyrical and spell-binding time travel fantasy featuring an immortal witch who must summon all her powers to defeat the evil hounding her through the centuries.” –Mary Sharratt, author of Daughters of the Witching Hill

“With her first novel, author Paula Brackston conjures up a riveting tale of sorcery and time travel. By mixing feminine heroism with masculine might, Brackston successfully captivates readers with characters Bess, an immortal witch, and sinister dark lord, Gideon….  It's almost impossible not to root for the underdog in this magical twist on the classic David vs. Goliath tale. Plus, the skill with which Brackston weaves her characters through time makes this book a fascinating take on global history.” –Marie Claire

"Brackston’s first novel offers well-crafted characters in an absorbing plot and an altogether delicious blend of historical fiction and fantasy." —Booklist

"This pleasantly romantic historical fantasy debut flips lightly between the past experiences of ageless witch Elizabeth Anne Hawksmith and her present-day life in Matravers, England... Bess's adventures are fascinating." —Publishers Weekly

“Stretching her tale over several centuries, British-based Brackston brings energy as well as commercial savvy to her saga of innocence and the dark arts….  History, time travel and fantasy combine in a solidly readable entertainment.” —Kirkus

 

"An engaging, well-written novel that will appeal to fans of historical fiction and fantasy alike." —Portland Book Review

"Part historical romance, part modern fantasy, The Witch’s Daughter is a fresh, compelling take on the magical, yet dangerous world of witches. Readers will long remember the fiercely independent heroine who survives plagues, wars, and the heartbreak of immortality to stay true to herself, and protect the protégé she comes to love." —NightOwlReviews.com

"The Witch’s Daughter is a wonderful combination of historical fiction and paranormal. Brackston’s story alternates between past and present as she mixes tales of Elizabeth’s early life with the present day, tying in historical events including Jack the Ripper and the horrors of WWI... Overall, a really enjoyable read." —BookBitch.com

"Readers who enjoy historical fantasy built around an epic struggle between good and evil should enjoy this original take on the theme." —HistoricalNovels.info

"An enjoyable read." —Genre Go Round Reviews

"This tale spans centuries and walks the line between good and the darker side of magic.  Magic and those who possess it have been feared and persecuted throughout most of human history.  Find out what it is like to live for hundreds of years, mostly in solitude, and have to struggle with having the power to help people, but being afraid to use that power." —Affaire de Coeur

 

“Women will certainly love the independent, feisty female characters, but the narrative is wonderfully imaginative and the plot fast-moving and filled with action. This novel is highly recommended for witches and warlocks alike.” –Historical Novel Society

"The combination of stories from the past and the present meld nicely, and the author adds some clever twists so the reader never knows exactly from whom the next Gideon apparition will arise. Perhaps the best twist is the ending—leaving an opening for another book, but at the same time furnishing the reader with quite a satisfactory ending." —The National Examiner (UK)

"Ambitious and thought-provoking, this book will lure you into vivid, visceral worlds where evil lurks at every turn. The beautifully crafted BOOK OF SHADOWS will be etched on my mind for a long time. What an action-packed, emotionally powerful film it would make too." Sally Spedding, author of STRANGERS WAITING

"An unforgettable story by a highly original new writer." —Rebecca Tope, author of the Cotswold crime series

Kirkus Reviews
2014-01-09
Downton Abbey meets the dark arts in Brackston's (The Winter Witch, 2013, etc.) latest, which sees an aristocratic young English witch leading a fight against an evil magic order while world war looms. Twenty-one-year-old Lady Lilith Montgomery has her hands full. Her father, the sixth Duke of Radnor, has just died, handing on his title to Lilith's opium-addicted brother, Freddie, and his other title, Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven, to Lilith herself. While shielding her fragile brother and grieving mother, and placating her fiance, Viscount Louis Harcourt, also a witch, she must now prepare for her inauguration as Morningstar, leader of the coven sworn to protect the Great Secret and the Elixir from the clutches of malign necromancers like the Sentinels, who could use these materials for terrible ends. And then Lilith goes and falls in love with a nonwitch, handsome artist Bram Cardale, leaving both herself and Bram vulnerable when wicked forces attack. This third combination of romance and sorcery from Brackston is longer, slower and more slackly plotted than her previous books, neither chilling in its horrors nor compelling in its drama. Skipping forward from 1913 to a conclusion six years later, it runs a repetitive and illogical course, no more infernal in its necromancy, finally, than Ghostbusters. Previously a sprightly tale-spinner, Brackston has mislaid her magic touch this time round.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250022967
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 7,214
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


PAULA BRACKSTON is the New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from Lancaster University in the UK.  She lives in Wales with her family.
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Read an Excerpt


1.
LONDON, 1913
 
 
The dead are seldom silent.
They have their stories to tell and their gift of foresight to share. 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, and they never clamor more loudly for my attention than at a funeral. This is in part due to proximity, of course. Here I stand, beside an open grave, somber in black, quiet, watching, waiting, pain constricting my chest more tightly than the stays of my corset, and all around me souls stir. But they must wait. Wait to be called. Now is not the time. I know they are eager to speak to me, and I value their trust in me, but wait they must.
It is always important, what the dead have to say. At least, they consider it so. As if departing this world has conferred upon their every single utterance a dignity, a value, that was not present while they trod the ground instead of sleeping beneath it. There are times their insistence and their self-importance tire me, I admit. Times such as now, when I am far too consumed by grief to want to hear them. Even so, I can never forget, must never forget that sometimes their words are indeed of great value. Necromancers through the ages have known this; we have learned to listen to their bold prophecies and their whispered warnings. What would the genteel lords and ladies assembled here today think, I wonder, if they knew that among them now are those who summon spirits from the past to divine the future? What would they think of me if I were to tell them I am most at ease in a catacomb, or sitting in a graveyard cloaked in darkness, talking softly with those who have crossed the Rubicon and dwell in the Land of Night? That I find comfort and solace in the companionship of the dead, as my ancestors did before me? What would they say if I told them I have always harbored a secret fondness for coffins? There is something about their sleek lines, the rich tones of the burred walnut, the gleam of the brass fittings, the comforting thought of a place of rest and safety, that appeals to me.
Now, though, as I watch my father’s coffin being lowered into its grave, no amount of admiration for its workmanship can distract me from the loneliness I feel. My father was not an openly affectionate man—most thought him rather cold and aloof—but he loved me, and now he is gone. At twenty-one I should be excited about the future. Instead I feel only the sadness of loss, and the weight of duty upon my shoulders. My brother will inherit the role of duke and all that goes with it, but I am heir to my father’s other title. A position that bestowed upon him both immense power and fearsome responsibility. And now it is my turn. I am to become the new Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven.
As I stand at the graveside I let my gaze sweep over the gathered mourners. Hundreds have turned out to pay their last respects to the late duke, but only a handful among us know that the coffin which is the current focus of attention, and which is now being lowered into the damp, dark earth, is, in point of fact, empty. The August sunshine has warmed the soil so that its musky scent drifts up from the open grave. To me the aroma is familiar and stirring. It smells of long ago, of ages past, of loved ones moved from this world to the next, of death and rebirth, of rot and regeneration. As the smell fills my nostrils I identify the presence of cleansing worms and busy beetles, and under it all, from nearby newly filled graves, the subtle beginnings of sweet decay. I am not the only one to detect the presence of disintegration. From the branches of a majestic cedar comes the agitated cawing of sharp-beaked rooks.
The heat of the summer afternoon is starting to tell on many of the mourners. The pool of black the gathered company presents seems to ripple as women sway unsteadily in their heavy gowns, their restricting corsets robbing them of much of what little air there is. Here and there fans are worked listlessly. The men fare no better beneath their top hats, and some pluck at their starched collars. The relentlessly high temperatures of this summer of 1913 are not conducive to comfort for anyone dressed for a society funeral. Even the gleaming black carriage horses, despite standing in the shade of an ancient yew tree, fidget, causing the blackened ostrich plumes on their bridles to shudder and flutter in the inappropriately cheerful sunshine.
I feel my mother’s grip on my arm tighten. Her gloved fingers dig into the night-black crape of my sleeve. She looks worryingly frail.
“Mama?” I whisper as close to her ear as her elaborately veiled hat will allow. “Mama, are you quite well?”
“Oh, Lilith, my dear. I do feel a little faint.”
The dowager duchess teeters alarmingly.
“Freddie!” I hiss at my brother, who stands only a few paces off but wears an expression that places him in another world entirely. “Freddie, for heaven’s sake, help Mama.”
“What? Yes, yes, of course. Now then, Mama. Steady as she goes.” He smiles weakly, slipping his arm around our mother’s tiny waist. “Not long now,” he murmurs. “Soon be over,” he adds, as much to himself as anyone else.
I take in the pale couple that comprise my family and wonder if I am equal to the task of looking after them. They need me to be strong. To take Father’s place. But how can I? How can I? My mother’s very existence has been defined by her husband for such a long time. She was a duchess for so many years, and now she must alter her view of herself, of her position, to become Lady Annabel. She finds this modern, fast-changing world confusing and illogical, and overhanging us all is the possibility of war. She is adrift, and I must be her safe haven. It is so typical of Mama that she insisted on such a grand and lengthy funeral. She has overseen every detail—from the number and variety of lilies, to the breed of the carriage horses, and the funereal livery of the footmen. I understand that she is sure in her mind that she knows precisely what her beloved Robert would have wanted. She believes it is expected of her as the duke’s widow to carry out his wishes. However keenly she feels her grief, she will not let it show. However lost she knows herself to be, she will present a small point of stoic dignity at the center of the cortege. Only those closest to her will be aware of how much she is suffering. I know the truth of it. My mother is burying not simply an adored spouse, but the greater part of herself. Freddie and I will go into the world and have lives of our own; she will remain in privileged purgatory, from now until the moment of her own death, no longer duchess, no longer wife, no longer with a purpose of place around which she can shape her existence.
And Freddie. Freddie has singular problems which require singular remedies. Perhaps he can be persuaded to move out to our country estate in Radnorshire, far away from the destructive temptations on offer in the city. It would be a solution of sorts. But how will I succeed where even Father failed? Freddie knows what he would be giving up if he went back to Radnor Hall. I fear he would as soon jump into Father’s grave.
That brother of yours will bring you to ruin!
Who is that? Who speaks to me unbidden, uncalled, unsummoned? What spirit would venture to do such a thing? Who is there?
One who watches you, Daughter of the Night. One who knows you, and your worthless brother, better than you know yourselves.
I must close my mind to this unwelcome, unfamiliar voice! Despite the relentless heat of the day I feel a sudden chill. Spirits may become restless, may long to communicate, but still they wait to be called. I will not listen. Not now. Now it is the living who need me. Freddie, perhaps, most of all.
Watching him as he attempts to support Mama he appears almost as insubstantial as she does. His skin has about it a transparency that seems to reveal the vulnerability underneath. Tiny beads of sweat glisten on his brow. He leans heavily on his cane, as if he cannot bear his own weight, let alone that of anyone else.
I remember the first time Father brought us here, Freddie and me. It was gone midnight, and the house was quiet. He came to the nursery, and told Nanny to get us up and dressed. I could have been no more than nine years old, so Freddie must have been seven. It was certainly strange, to be roused from our beds in the dark hours, and to leave in the carriage with only our father. I recall Nanny’s anxious face watching at the window as we left. Did she know? I wonder. Did she know about Father? Did she know where he was taking us?
He had the driver park the carriage at the gate to the cemetery, and then led us through the narrow paths between the graves. He walked quickly, and Freddie and I had to trot and scamper to keep up. I remember feeling a little excited at such a mysterious outing, but I was not afraid. My poor baby brother, however, was so dreadfully scared. By the time we reached our destination—this very spot—he was crying quite loudly, so that Father had to scold him and insist that he be quiet. We stood still then, among the tombs and statuary, letting the dark settle about us. I heard an owl screech, and several bats flitted past, their wing beats causing the warm summer air to stir against my face. Father said nothing, gave us no instructions, told us not a thing about what was expected of us. He merely had us stand silently among the dead, wrapped in the night. Freddie fidgeted the whole time, stifling his sobs as best he could. But I was quite content. I felt … at home.
I take Mama’s arm once more and hold on firmly. The vicar presses slowly on with the service, his voice flat and monotonous, like a distant bell, weathered and cracked, echoing the dying heartbeats of the man whose body we commit to the earth, and whose soul we commend to God. Except that his body is absent, and his soul will linger a while yet.
*   *   *
Beside a mournful statue of an angel, sheltering in the relative coolness of its winged shadow, and at some remove from the main company attending the duke’s funeral, Nicholas Stricklend, permanent private secretary to the minister for Foreign Affairs, waits and watches. He has no desire to engage in small talk with others in attendance. Nor does he wish to give his condolences to the chief mourners. He wants merely to observe. To witness the interment. To assure himself that the leader of the Lazarus Coven is indeed dead and gone, once and for all, no longer occupying that privileged position of power and influence.
A squirrel scampers by close to where Stricklend stands. The quick movement of its claws on the dust-dry ground scuffs up fallen pine needles, some of which land on the senior ranking civil servant’s spotless shoes. He regards the needles with distaste. Their presence offends him. He does not consider himself unrealistic in his expectations of life; he is aware that perfection, however sincerely strived for, is often unattainable. However, it is his habit to aim for nothing less, so that even when his attempts fall short, a high standard is maintained. What he finds irksome almost beyond endurance is the way in which the actions of others on occasion cause his cherished ideal to be compromised. Focusing on his shoes he exhales firmly, directing his breath effortlessly, as if it were within everyone’s capabilities, the distance to his feet so that the pine needles are blown away as on a zephyr, and his shoes regain their matchless shine. The squirrel, sensing danger, freezes. Its face registers first fear and then pain, as it drops to the ground. After one small gasp it is stilled forever. The nearby rooks fall silent.
Stricklend returns his attention to the family of the recently deceased duke. He met Lord Robert’s widow several times when she was still the duchess of Radnor. No doubt she would remember him, just as she would remember all her guests. She would naturally value her reputation as an excellent hostess but now, even so soon after the duke’s passing, she appears to Stricklend diminished. Her husband’s illness had been protracted and his death prepared for, but still the shock of it shows. Though her face might be veiled, her demeanor, her deportment, her seeming lack of substance are plainly visible. On her right, her son, Frederick, presents a picture of almost equal frailty. The young man is tall and good-looking, with the family’s black hair and fine, aristocratic features, but he is painfully thin, and there is a restlessness about him that gives him away. Stricklend doubts the youth will make a good duke. He will not come close to filling his father’s shoes.
The person who is of real interest to him, however, is the slim figure to the left of the dowager duchess. Lady Lilith Montgomery, only daughter and eldest child of the late Lord Robert Montgomery, sixth duke of Radnor, wears her striking beauty casually yet with dignity. She does not flaunt the head-turning loveliness with which she has been blessed any more than she would flaunt her position of privilege as the daughter, and now sister, of a duke. There is about her an air of seriousness. An earnestness. A self-contained strength, that Stricklend finds both admirable and attractive. He witnessed her coming out into society through the summer with careful attention. But it is not her feminine attributes that matter to him. Nor her social standing. What is of concern to him, what he is keenly interested in, is her ability to take on the mantle of Head Witch in her father’s place. Only time will tell if she is up to the task. If she is not, it will be a bad day for the Lazarus Coven. A very bad day indeed. It will also be a singularly good day for Nicholas Stricklend.
*   *   *
Despite the weight of his valise, the bulk of his knapsack of artist’s materials, and the awkward legginess of the easel he carries on his shoulder, Bram Cardale traverses the cemetery with a vigorous step. Being tall and strong means his luggage is less burdensome for him than it might have been for others, added to which a sense of purpose lends energy to his stride. He is glad of the shortcut, for he has walked a mile or more already, but he could happily travel until sunset, for today he begins his new life. Behind him lie burned bridges, disregarded offers of secure employment, and the comfort and stability of his family home. Ahead lies nothing certain, save that he is to lodge with the renowned and feted sculptor, Richard Mangan, and he is, at last, to attempt to become the painter he believes himself capable of being. Such a leap of faith shocked his parents. His father took it particularly badly.
“But, lad, you’ve a position waiting for you at the factory. You’d throw it all up to … to what? Paint pictures?”
“It’s what I was meant to do, Father.”
“All of a sudden our life, what we do, that’s not good enough for you?”
“I don’t expect you to understand.”
“You’re right about that.”
“Can’t you be pleased for me?”
“Pleased you’re going off on the rim of your hat to live in a house of adulterers and heaven knows who else instead of taking your place here, where you belong? Oh, aye, I’m certain to be pleased about that.”
Bram had not attempted to win his father round to the idea of his chosen future. He had dried his mother’s tears and promised to write. There had been a moment, when she had looked deep into him in the way only she could, when he had faltered. She had touched his cheek with such tenderness, such concern … but if he did not go now he feared he would remain forever living a half-life, his talent, his art, his need to create, stifled and smothered. He could not tolerate such an existence. True, there could be no guarantees of success, and he might end up alone in London, a failed nobody, his talent exposed as an illusion. He risked one manner of madness if he went, and another, a slower more tortuous insanity, if he stayed. He had caught the evening train from Sheffield that very night. Guilt dogged his footsteps, but with each passing mile his certainty that he was doing the right thing grew.
The energy of London, the vibrant hum of the place, the sheer scale, all speak to him of possibilities and of freedom. He could not paint properly while still living under his father’s shadow, living a provincial life, where he was hampered by his family’s expectations of him. He knows he is acting selfishly, but if he must paint—and it seems he is driven by some irresistible force to do so—he must find a place and a company conducive to artistic expression and endeavor. He had written to Richard Mangan scarce hoping for a response, so when he was invited to take rooms in his house he knew it was an opportunity he could not pass up. Here was his chance to give vent to his ambition.
As he approaches the halfway point on the path to the east gate of the graveyard, Bram is struck by the number of mourners attending a burial. Large funerals are not uncommon in Sheffield but he has witnessed nothing of this kind before. He pauses in his journey, sliding his easel to the ground for a moment. He can make out several funeral carriages, all drawn by very fine horses, each black as coal, and draped in heavy velvet. The hearse itself might no longer be in attendance, but the remaining conveyances are no less impressive or flamboyantly liveried. Each has painted on its doors and embroidered on the drapery of the horses the emblem of a dragonfly, delicate and slim, its body shimmering green. Mourners stand a dozen rows deep, at least two hundred of them. Close to the grave the chief mourners look to Bram to present a touchingly small family. The young woman wears a broad hat with a long spotted veil, but he can discern elegant deportment and fine features even so. And a graceful, slender neck, the only part of her not swathed in black. Bram finds the whiteness of this small, exposed area of flesh somehow startling. Erotic, almost. A shaft of sunlight cuts through the branches of the lone cedar tree to illuminate the trio at the graveside, so that the fabric of their clothes, though cellar-black, reflects the light with such brilliance that the glare causes him to squint.
He wonders at once how he would paint such a phenomenon, how he would capture on canvas the strength of that light in the midst of such gloom. A familiar excitement stirs within him at the idea of the challenge. His pulse quickens. Images flash through his mind, light upon dark, dark upon light, blocks of color and bold brush strokes. In that moment of inspiration all is possible. He drops his luggage to the ground and scrabbles in his knapsack, pulling out board and paper, digging deeper for dusty shards of charcoal. He supports the board with one arm, pinning the paper to it with his fingers at the top. In his right hand he grasps the charcoal and turns to stand facing the scene he wishes to capture. He is in the full glare of the sun, and can feel perspiration beading his brow, dampening his hair. His hat offers more heat than shade, so he pushes it from his head, letting it lie where it falls on the parched ground. He frowns against the glare of the blank page, hesitating only a moment before beginning to sketch. A passing couple comment sharply on his inappropriate behavior. He is immune to their criticism. He knows he is witness to the grief of strangers, and he knows his actions could be seen as callous or disrespectful. The small part of him that still pays heed to such conventions, however, is stamped down by the urgency of his desire to depict what he sees, to immortalize that moment. It is not merely the juxtaposition of shapes, of sunlight and shadow, of patterns and elegant lines he wishes to show. Nor is he interested in recording a comment on society and its cherished traditions. It is the very essence of his subjects he strives to transpose to his picture.
To show what cannot be seen one must first represent what can be seen, he tells himself.
His mind works as swiftly as his hand as he draws. Deft, energetic marks begin to fill the paper.
It is my lot to spend my life in pursuit of the impossible. To reveal what is hidden. But am I able? Am I equal to the task?
He continues to work even as he feels his head spin with the heat of the day and the intensity of his concentration. Even as curious onlookers pause to peer over his shoulder. He works on, seeking to show the brilliance of life in the midst of a ceremony for the dead. Even as the vicar closes his good book. Even as the beautiful, slender girl beside the open grave raises her head and finds herself to be beneath his fervent gaze.


 
Copyright © 2014 by Paula Brackston

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Liked it

    Good story but i'm not sure they were still doing the minuet in 1913. ;)

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2014

    Love the first two books. Wasted time and money on the third.

    Love the first two books. Wasted time and money on the third.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2014

    I also read the other two books she's written about witches, and

    I also read the other two books she's written about witches, and this is by far the weakest in the series. The first book was quirky and interesting, the second was (in my opinion) the best, but this one was disappointing. The quality of writing seemed to be so flowery that the author got in her own way trying to write the story. Too much time on details and the characters contemplating their navels instead of telling the story. I also didn't enjoy the (seemingly pointless) time-jumps toward the end of the story. All-in-all, a disappointment.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston is her third book on witch

    The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston is her third book on witches, however, this is not a series. A young witch
     struggling to find her power/place does seem to be the common theme in the various books. The Midnight
    Witch takes place in the early 20th century (1913-1919). Unlike the previous books, the main characters
    occupy a higher socio-economic status. 

    Lilith Montgomery assumes the role of head witch of the Lazarus Coven after the death of her father. She takes
    on the leadership even though she is young and inexperienced, albeit the heir apparent to the role. She is
    immediately challenged by dark forces that want to reclaim their power through secrets the coven has guarded
    for centuries. While this conflict is boiling, Lilith must also deal with her family and her love conflicts.

    Although I enjoyed The Midnight Witch, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Brackston’s first book. I loved that she
    toggled between POV of three main characters (Lilith, Bram and Sticklend). That choice in how the story was
    told allowed the reader to savor the slow introduction of information as characters presented themselves. The
    reader knows that the characters will somehow be connected, but it was a delicious wait to see how the pieces
    fit together.

    Although Lilith may not have been a common name for someone of that time period, choosing that name as a
    nod to the “first witch” was very clever. I had a love-hate relationship with Lilith. She seemed naïve, untrained
    and hypocritical. I like that she wanted to keep the coven current, but many of her choices seemed not only
    self-serving but completely out of line with what would have been hammered into her as the future leader of the
     coven. I had a hard time believing that given her prior strict adherence to the rules that Lilith would have made
    the all decisions she did. I enjoy that Brackston’s witches are not all super powerful and able to control all
    elements and aspects of life and nature. 

    Incorporating WWI into the story was interesting. It allowed for some character growth, interaction and demise
    that I would not have anticipated. I did not care for the implication that the dark forces were tied to the start of
    the war since it wasn't developed how they would eventually get the coven secrets as a result. Illuminating why
    the dark forces thought that the threat of war would influence or have a direct impact on Lilith would have
    improved the story. 

    The use of a mysterious infiltrator who is not revealed until end of the story was superb suspense. Although it
    was not one of my favorite books by Brackston, The Midnight Witch was well written and kept me engrossed in
    the story. I’m sure that the author’s fans and fans of witch stories will highly enjoy this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    When I read The Witch¿s Daughter and The Winter Witch by author

    When I read The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch by author Paula Brackston I had been pretty impressed by how well-written and intriguing the plots were. I’m not normally a fan of historical fiction but the way Brackston wrote it immersed me and just worked. Getting to read The Midnight Witch was such a big opportunity and I was excited to see what would be next in her novels focusing on the lives of young women who are coming to terms with the crazy amounts of power hidden inside of them.

    In The Midnight Witch, Lady Lilith’s father’s death means the start of a new chapter in her life. Now Lady Lilith will have to take her place as the Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven; a coven of witches who can see and raise the dead by will. While Lilith is confident in her abilities to lead her coven she has begun to hear an evil spirit whose constant taunts have begun to get to her head. Adding to her troubles, mourning the loss of her father, dealing with her fiancé and society. It isn’t until the young artist Bram comes to town that Lilith finds herself conflicted between love and her duty as her coven’s leader. Bram is everything she could ever want but Bram ever love a powerful witch like herself? And even if he could her loyalty to her coven would keep their love forbidden.

    What I really enjoyed about The Midnight Witch most was Lilith’s character. She is not only such a (for the most part) confident woman but she’s also sure of herself to an extent. When it comes to taking over her father’s place in the Coven she knows that she has some major shoes to fill, that people will be judging her. Still, Lilith wants everybody in her coven to know who they’re dealing with. The amount of confidence in this character was huge and instantly reminded me of The Witch’s Daughter’s main character Elizabeth. I loved this protagonist.

    However I did find that with The Midnight Witch I had a few more issues than I did with The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch. Just because in The Midnight Witch apart from there being an amazing plot that is definitely exciting the amount of unnecessary detailing in the novel did get me bored at times. There would be just paragraphs of detail or thoughts on something that got in the way of the pacing and did leave my mind wandering. Which took away from my experience a fair-bit and influenced how much I enjoyed the novel in its entirety.

    The novel does have exciting, action-packed scenes that aren’t heavily detailed and they do pick up the pace a fair bit. What really got me noticing this (and into the novel) would have to be the scene where Lilith’s taking the place as Head Witch is challenged and she has to summon a demon. What comes next is seriously insane, it kept my head spinning and was all-around the kind of witchy badassery that I wanted to see from The Witch’s Daughter and The Winter Witch. Plus, we got to see exactly what Lilith could do with her abilities.

    As for the romance portion of the novel, I personally found it sweet. Creepy at first since Bram was a bit obsessed with Lilith, but sweet in the end. The star-crossed lovers/forbidden romance bit that was thrown in fit perfectly with the novel’s plot. The relationship between Bram and Lilith is different from the romantic relationships in The Winter Witch and The Witch’s Daughter, but it is one that readers will enjoy.

    I would recommend The Midnight Witch to readers who are fans of historical fiction, want a strong, confident female main character and to any readers who like novels that give you additional insight while you’re reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2014

    Contrived and bland

    The characters are predictable and one-dimensional. Attempts at character development are laughable at best. Drama and romance are inserted without reason -the main characters are like cardboard cutouts with no chemistry. Read like bad fanfiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2014

    Did not live up to Witch's Daughter

    Cartoonish villians and too many charicters







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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2014

    Oh no

    Only on page 30 and the writing is soooo immature, unlike her first two I will have to archive and maybe read another time Waste of time and money!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2014

    Very disapointed

    Not up to previous standards. I made it to the end hopeing it would get better but it didn't. It semed like the author could not decide what genre she was writing in. Somewhere between a romance and?



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  • Posted May 11, 2014

    I love books about witches! Magical, powerful women are great ch

    I love books about witches! Magical, powerful women are great characters; I know personally that I find them empowering which is
    great for an introvert who is completely unsure of herself!Lilith is that type of character. She is unsure of herself which means every
    person can relate to her but she also does what she thinks is the best in the end, she trusts her instincts, and we all wish we could
    do that automatically without having to second guess ourselves. I did find it annoying that her role as head witch was repeated over
    and over if I would have heard “But I am head witch” or “But you are head witch” one more time I would have screamed! So her role is
    given airs and was laid on a little to thick for my liking, I mean we already know she is head witch and we are not idiots so you don’t
    have to repeat it twenty million times. It was just to much.

    Engaged to one man, who is her true social equivalent but in love with another,  a penniless artist, Lilith makes the right choice
    she chooses penniless love over a wealthy friendship. Aaahhh, Love!!!

    Necromancy is scary but in that adrenaline rising excitement type of way, like riding a really scary roller coaster. To talk to the dead is
    one thing but to be hounded like Lilith is by the dark spirit sent by the Sentinels, dark wizards, to spy on her and basically make her
    life miserable just to get to the elixir is quite another thing, it is a wonder she doesn’t go a little nuts. Our heroine perseveres of course
    and is proclaimed to be “Queen of the Night”.

    Even though I loved this book I still found it to be pretty predictable plot wise but I did find the details dealing with necromancy to be
    the ones that held my attention in this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    This book was even better than I thought it would be (which is s

    This book was even better than I thought it would be (which is saying something since I assumed it was going to be a great book in the first place). The suspense of the story was perfect and carried on through the whole book, making me want to read it all in one sitting.




    The characters each had their own personalities and I found myself falling in love with them (except of course for the not so lovable ones). The characters felt so real I almost had to remind myself they were fictional, and this made the story feel more real too which was a refreshing change from a lot of books I read. 




    I loved the mystery involved. I never knew who was good and who was bad usually until Lilith found out. Who was the man who challenged her? Who was the Dark Spirit and what did it want? It felt like I was solving every problem alongside her because I only ever knew as much as she did and discovered answers once she discovered them. 




    Something else I enjoyed was the differences in perspectives. At some points we were seeing things from Lilith's point of view and at other points it was from Bram's or Stricklend's. I've noticed some people are irritated with the switch between first and third person but I actually found it interesting, and it also made it easy to automatically tell who's perspective I was reading from.




    As you can tell I really loved this book. It had a perfect mix of everything - mystery, suspense, magic, romance, etc. and formed a very enjoyable story that I highly recommend to literally everyone (well anyone who can read that is).




    My only suggestion? Make this into a movie!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2014

    Just don't

    Predictable, boring, and wooden. Her other books were better; I would wait for this to be marked down if you're interested in purchasing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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