Witchstruck by Victoria Lamb is not a unique, change-your-life, drop-everything-and-read-this story. However, it is a good, solid, enjoyable read, perfect for a rainy September evening as summer fades away.
Witchstruck is a historical paranormal/fantasy (if such a genre exists), set in 1554, when Queen Mary I was on the throne and the princess Elizabeth was locked away in a lonely, ruined castle to prevent treason in her name. The novel is written from the perspective of Meg Lytton, a young witch and Elizabeth's new maid. Elizabeth is fascinated by Meg's powers, but the search for witches and heretics is building into a frenzy, and when local witch-hunter Marcus Dent discovers Meg's powers, she is given a choice: accept his proposal of marriage, or suffer the consequences.
This novel is full of great female characters, and is an easy Bechdel pass. Meg is a passionate and determined protagonist, and her mentor/friend relationship with her witch aunt Jane is great to read. However, the highlight, for me, was the young Elizabeth, who seems to have taken advanced lessons from the Sansa Stark school of "strong female characters." Any misstep on her part will mean execution, yet she is always compassionate, dignified and incredibly intelligent, playing the part of the loving, repenting sister and manipulating those around her to ensure her survival.
Oh, and there's a fun romance between Meg and a young priest-in-training who is sent to watch and teach Elizabeth. This is YA, after all.
Witchstruck is fast-paced and action packed, with fun characters and a hateful villain. It's a great choice for a quick, light read, especially if you're a bit of a Tudor fangirl like me. I won't be crying in anticipation for the next in the series, but I will be sure to grab it when it comes out.