A sweeping historical saga that traces five generations of fiercely powerful mothers and daughters -- witches whose magical inheritance is both a dangerous threat and an extraordinary gift.
After Grand-Mere Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her.
Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew. The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.
But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever -- not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.
Praise for A Secret History of Witches:
"I loved it. A beautiful generational tale, reminiscent of Practical Magic. . .. Grounded and real, painful and hopeful at the same time." —Laure Eve, author of The Graces
"Historical fiction at its absolute finest....Deliciously absorbing." —Boston Globe
"At once sprawling and intimate, A Secret History of Witches deftly captures the greatest magic of all: the love between mothers and daughters." —Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Wolf in the Whale
For more from Louisa Morgan, check out:
The Witch's Kind
The Age of Witches
Set in western Europe and spanning five generations, Morgan's novel is a lengthy and repetitive novel that lacks intrigue and detail. The Orchi res Nanette, Ursule, Irene, Morwan, and Veronica are a line of witches. Magic is passed down from mother to daughter, each one receiving her powers as she hits puberty. Each daughter is tasked with protecting the family's secrets and ensuring that the line continues by giving birth to more daughters. While each woman's story has individual elements that sets it apart from the others, each does not stray far from the formula of hitting puberty, discovering their power, fighting with their mothers, and finding a man to help them bear children. As far as the magical elements go, the incantations are unimaginative, coupled with clich s typical of witch stories, such as Nanette's black feline companion and the emphasis on Ursule's elderly and cloaked appearance when Morwan first meets her grandmother. The novel moves quickly through each generation's story, leaving the reader with little attachment to these women and their struggles. The cast of supporting characters, and the male characters in particular, are not given enough room on the page to have any lasting impact on the reader, and their relationships to the Orchi res are used primarily as vehicles for plot progression.
Enjoyed the read
I enjoyed this read. It follows various generations of women in one family line, and how their actions and beliefs affect their lives, but also how they choose to live and be helps them grow as individuals.
A Secret History of Witches by Louisa Morgan is a historical novel that starts in 1838 at Orchard Farm. The Orchierres families magic seemed to wither with the death of Grandmere Ursule. Her descendants keep following the practices she established that have been handed down from mother to daughter. They have Ursule’s magic crystal and grimoire. Some of them can do simple spells, simples and charms. Nanette, Ursule’s granddaughter, is the first one to blossom with real power. Magic, though, always comes at a price. Follow the magic through the generations to see what happens to the Orchierres line of witches.
A Secret History of Witches was a slow-paced novel that I found lacking in magic. The story had potential, but it was never achieved. Each generation seemed to make the same mistake (it seemed like the same story repeated over for each generation—the author just changed the clothes or words to fit the time period). I thought it would be a story about strong, female witches (instead we have women that grow up, get pregnant, pass on family history and repeat for the next generation). Unfortunately, the only strong person was Gradmere Ursule (and she was dead). The woman and men were stuck in their gender roles and they were conventional. The magic elements were uninspiring. For a book about witches and magic, it was deficient. The characters lacked development (they were flat). Some sections were more complete than others. I was disappointed in the ending (it was unsatisfying and felt unfinished). I did not understand why the author did not bring the book into modern times and bring the witches full circle. She could have shown them back in full power in modern times. The book needed some oomph. My rating for A Secret History of Witches is 2 out of 5 stars. There is some good writing and the author did her research for the historical periods featured. My favorite section the World War II with Veronica Selwyn. If you are looking for a magical novel, check out Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy (vampires too)!
I haven't read in years, my job and mommy duty just got in the way. I picked up this on a whim since I had a 4 hour flight ahead of me. I was halfway through it when I reached my destination and had a hard time putting it down. I never stopped needing to know what came next. To top it off, I was pretty darn satisfied with the ending. If you’re into stories about witches and enjoy a novel that ties in real world events to the timeline, this will be a delight.