Thursday, 18 August 2011

Testament of a Witch



Author: Douglas Watt
ISBN: 9781906817794

Why did I read it?  It was given to me in exchange for a review and I was keen on the idea of a fictional work set in Scotland during the the notorious witch hunts.

Synopsis:   John Mackenzie is an advocate in Edinburgh who is charged by a letter from a dead woman to investigate happenings in the village of Lammersheugh. He and his assistant, Davie Scougall, a man raised in religious superstition, arrive to find the dead woman's daughter, Euphame also accused of witchcraft and the enlightened Mr Mackenzie and his reluctant assistant must work quickly to save her.

What did I like? Douglas Watt keeps his chapters short and each has a different voice, focussing on one person, or section of the community and this keeps the story moving at a cracking pace.  The zeitgeist of the Scotland in the 17th century - the religious fervour and political unrest - is evoked with apparent ease and Mr Watt is explicit when describing the gruesome nature of the treatment afforded those accused of being in league with the devil but this adds to the feeling of uncertainty and terror of the time.

I enjoyed this book and sped through it keen to discover the underbelly of Lammersheugh with John Mackenzie, but unlike other murder and/or mystery books, I was unable to unravel the mystery ahead of the author's reveal.  For me, this is a big plus for the book.

What didn't I like?  Very little.  Some of the chapters were difficult to read as over half the chapter was  written in a Scottish dialect, though the few Gaelic phrases scattered throughout other chapters were translated into plain English.

 Would I recommend it?  Yes!  I would thoroughly recommend this book to others: friends, family and even my grandmother, a fussy reader.

Rating: 4/5.

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