Two queens, two religions, one London: Witchborn by Nicholas Bowling

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United By Pop received a free copy of Witchborn in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

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Title: Witchborn

Author: Nicholas Bowling

Purchase: Available in the UK and not yet available in the US

Overall rating: 4/5



Great for: Fans of Irena Brignull, Frances Hardinge, and Melissa Albert

Themes: Young adult, fantasy and historical fiction

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Review: I like my books to match my mood and my surroundings. And my autumnal aesthetic is darker-themed fiction, with hints of the fantastical, and full of atmospheric settings. So, it felt like the gods were answering my prayers when ‘Witchborn’ by Nicholas Bowling arrived on my doorstep.

This historical fantasy is set in London 1577. Britain is divided under two queens, segregated by two warring religions and the females of the country are being outed as witches and slain in fear. But the hidden truth is that there is actually some fact behind this female persecution.

Enter Alyce. She arrived in this sprawling metropolis with no idea of the political war raging around her, and no concept of the central role she would come to play in it. Witnessing her mother’s brutal murder and becoming wrongly incarcerated in the notorious Bedlam asylum was only the beginning of her bleak story. And the twisted hands of fate had far worse and unimaginable plans to follow…

The writing style pulled me into this story by creating a rich and absorbing environment in which the story was played out upon. I truly felt myself wandering the historic streets of London and exploring a place so familiar yet so far removed from all I know. I also immediately fell in love with every one of the characters in this tale. Each was as fully-fleshed as Alyce herself and all had their own unique part to play, as the story unfolded.

I thankfully found this entire story as engaging and intricate as the artwork adorning the cover. Despite not exactly spooky, the darker themes and supernatural elements made this the perfect autumnal read and truly evoked the essence of my favourite season. I found the plot was accessible yet innovative, the world recognisable yet deftly made the author’s own, and the characters felt real yet originative. This was the perfect blend of euphoric escapism and exciting engagement.

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