Review: Woodwitch

Written by  Skye McKenna
Cover Illustration by Saara Katariina Söderlund
Interior Illustrations by Tomislav Tomic
Published by Welbeck Publishing

I absolutely adored Hedgewitch so was eager to return to this magical world in Woodwitch to join Cassie and her friends on their next exciting adventure and, oh my goodness, I absolutely loved it:  spellbinding, charming and a dazzling delight from start to finish.

13-year-old Cassie Morgan is settling into her new home at Hartwood Hall with her Aunt Miranda who is also the Hedgewitch, responsible for protecting the villagers of Hedgely from the threat of faeries crossing from the Hedge, a wooded border between England and Faerie.  She is also the Coven Mistress who runs the Coven where Cassie and her friends are earning their badges to become fully qualified witches.

When the friends find one of the villagers acting strangely, desperately searching for something, they realise that he has been enchanted, and use their witchcraft skills to lift the spell, sending a dark shadow creeping back into the forest.  Before long another villager becomes enchanted … and another …

Just when it seems that danger has come to the village, the Hedgewitch is summoned to give evidence at the trial of a warlock, leaving Cassie to look after her younger cousin, Sebastian, who has been sent by his father to stay with them.  Sebastian does not want to stay at Hartwood Hall, dislikes witches and prefers science and technology to the supernatural.  Whilst he does not believe in any threat from Faeries, Cassie disagrees.  Fearing that more harm may come to the villagers, Oak Patrol decide to investigate …

And so begins a brilliantly exciting, action-packed adventure as Cassie and her friends discover that one of the Erl King’s minions is seeking an ancient and dangerous faery relic hidden somewhere in the village.  They must venture into the Hedge to seek answers, unearth secrets and discover who is friend and who foe as they are drawn into a perilous race to find the weapon before the Erl King can use it against the human world.  Anticipation and tension are built perfectly as the plot unfolds, taking me on an exciting journey that I didn’t want to end. 

I loved that familiar Faery characters returned in this adventure as well as some new ones, especially the ancient Watchers and some intent on causing harm through trickery and deception.  The world-building is incredible and captivating, drawing me into the quaint village of Hedgely with its close community, acceptance of magic and reliance on the Hedgewitch as protector.  I loved the use of herblore, the awe and wonder in nature and the vivid descriptions of what lies within the Hedge, encapsulating both darkness and light.

It was just wonderful to be spending time with Cassie and her friends again – not to mention their familiars, especially Montague!  Cassie, Rue and Tabitha have such a strong and close bond of friendship, always supportive of each other and working as a team.  They are learning the skills of witchcraft through working to achieve a range of badges:  I loved that they are earning their Woodwitch badge which was one Cassie found in her mother’s Handbook.  Cassie is a determined, curious and courageous young girl, but what I think really shines through is her kindness and ability to empathise with, listen to and help others.  She understands the importance of belonging, of finding a home, family and love and, whilst she is still determined to find her mother, she feels that she has a home and family at Hartwood Hall, allowing her to empathise with both Sebastian and Ivy – and another! 

As well as the mission to stop the ancient faery relic falling into the hands of the Erl King, Cassie continues to find out more of her mother’s story, and I really enjoyed how these two threads were linked as the story unfolded, and cannot wait to see how it is continued in Cassie’s next adventure, especially after the discoveries in this one!

Woodwitch is a mesmerising, magical adventure, brimming with friendship, mystery and nature, that is guaranteed to enchant young adventurers of 9+.

Thank you to Welbeck Children’s Books for a proof copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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