THE WILTED ROSE BOOK CLUB: The Witch’s Daughter Discussion # 2

Today, we’ll be discussing the second and last part of the book that starts from Litha, page 267 to the end, page 387. Firstly, I’d like to insert here in between the discussion questions, how the author Paula Brackston felt about writing The Witch’s Daughter and what brought her to write the book. You can find more on her site

Writing The Witch’s Daughter

I have long been fascinated by the idea of Witchcraft, and wanted to write a book based on the notion – What if there are Witches living among us, here and now, using real magic? This in turn set me thinking about Witches in times before our own, and how opinions have altered down the centuries. In Bess’s time (the sixteen hundreds) cunning women, or those using hedge craft to heal, were often accused of maleficia, that is, the use of magic to attempt to bring about bad events or harm to others. From our twenty-first century seems like fear and superstition causing panic and injustice, and we accept that most of these women were harmless, and indeed in many cases effective healers. But then – What if some of those women were true Witches? This gave me my start point for Elizabeth’s origins. By granting her immortality I was able to place her in other eras that I find fascinating. For me, there has always been a of menace about Victorian London. It was a place of so much poverty and suffering, where the poor and the desperate rubbed shoulders with the wealthy but could only dream of the comfort and security their birth had assured them. , as always, were the most vulnerable, which is why I wanted Eliza (who of course had a strong social conscience) to live where she did, helping the prostitutes as best she could. I wanted to include Jack the Ripper as he symbolises all that was dangerous and cruel about the city as the century shuddered to a close. I was particularly keen to position our heroine in the First World War. I wanted to see her tested to her limits, and to watch how she might be persuaded to use her magic to heal, whatever the personal cost. The very name Passchendaele conjures up suffering and emotion. The more I researched the third battle of Ypres, the conditions the troops and non-combatants endured, and the grim realities of the Field Hospitals, the more I knew Elise would be irresistibly drawn to such a place. I was born in Dorset and although I moved to Wales when I was five I have spent many years visiting that part of England. I love the quintessentially English feel of the landscape. It is Thomas Hardy, and cream teas, and thatched cottages, and bucolic life, and all that is good and quiet and peaceful about the countryside. This setting, then, was the perfect foil for the darkness that continued to pursue Elizabeth and threatened both herself and Tegan.

Here below the discussion questions.

1) Bess travels through time. She lives and survives during the Great Plague, the Victorian era, WWI until our days. What is the period that you find most interesting in history? Why?

2) Black and white magic are divided here, like they were two different types of magic that cannot intertwine. Bess represents the benevolent witch, while Gideon represents the maleficent witch. Do you think that it’s common to have this clear distinction in a nonfiction world or do you think that black and white commonly intertwine?

3) Bess rediscovers magic by using it to end the sufferings of injured soldiers, she basically ends their lives. Do you see it as an evil or good act?

4) What are your overall thoughts about this novel? Did you enjoy it?


The period that I find most interesting is the Victorian period. This era was culturally enriched thanks also to a great woman, Queen Victoria. Peculiar events like cat funerals took place, death photography became a trend, the Gothic Revival architecture with its impressive buildings dominated the urban sights; feminist ideas were rising high and strong and women of the middle, high-class preferred to stay single (the so dispregiative called spinster) and choose the company of a cat, a bird or other pet rather than becoming the property of men and ultimately losing their independence and money.

Most of the times, black and white magic intertwine, because the true essence of the Universe is dual and we belong to it. The most conscious witches know this, and know that when they perform a ritual, be it defined as good or bad, always carries both polarities. However, I recognize that there are people who are really mean and it’s just in their nature, nothing to do about it.

I have mixed feelings about the actions of Bess and its use of magic in these circumstances. A part of me believes that using magic to end the sufferings of the soldiers was a good act, but another part of me thinks that the soldiers were not really aware of what was going to happen to them, giving me the impression that they didn’t give their consent to end their lives. Am I being too critical, perhaps…

I did enjoy reading this novel and I’ll definitely read all the books belonging to the Shadow Chronicles series of standalones.

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