Arc Review – The Witchs Tree by Elena Collins

I missed the boat on the blog tour for this book, I thought I’d hit send on the email, but I didn’t. Elena Collins is a pseudonym for the wonderful Judy Leigh whose books I always want to read and have me in stitches.  I was intrigued by this departure in style, and I loved every element of it.

I am grateful to Boldwood Books for gifting me a digital ARC, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.  You can read my thoughts below.

Published on 17th May 2022 by Boldwood Books

Purchase link

Synopsis

As a love affair comes to an end, and with it her dreams for her future, artist Selena needs a retreat.  The picture-postcard Sloe Cottage in the Somerset village of Ashcombe promises to be the perfect place to forget her problems, and Selena settles into her new home as spring arrives.  But it isn’t long before Selena hears the past whispering to her. Sloe Cottage is keeping secrets which refuse to stay hidden.

1682

Grace Cotter longs for nothing more than a husband and family of her own. Content enough with her work on the farm, looking after her father, and learning the secrets of her grandmother Bett’s healing hands, nevertheless Grace still hopes for love. But these are dangerous times for dreamers, and rumours and gossip can be deadly. One mismove and Grace’s fate looks set…

Separated by three hundred years, two women are drawn together by a home bathed in blood and magic. Grace Cotter’s spirit needs to rest, and only Selena can help her now.

Review

I feel like I have read a few dual timeline books recently, and I have enjoyed them all.  This is the first one that has taken me back to medieval times and I found it compelling.  The writing is as I would have hoped but there was no sign of the comedic hand that is certainly the author’s usual style.

Even though the title suggested the fate that could befall Grace Cotter, I found myself crossing fingers and toes that she would find a happy ending, despite the way that she was treated by the very people that she endeavoured to help.  It’s almost impossible to imagine a life without mod-cons, reading about life in 1682 reminded me how fortunate we are with even the most basic of conveniences like medical care and hot water. The thought of living in a time of so much superstition was honestly chilling.

As we jumped forward to the present day, I was moved by Selena’s tragic loss and completely understood her need to flee her hometown and find sanctuary in the Somerset countryside.  The cottage was easily imagined as the descriptions take in every last detail.  I thoroughly enjoyed imagining Selena’s landscapes and envisioning the sights that she saw as she visited the local beauty spots.

One of the gifts that Judy Leigh never fails to demonstrate is her ability to develop a character to its full potential with expert ease.  She may make it look easy, but I know it’s not.

Whilst elements of this book seem desperate and hopeless, I found the overall story to be positive and uplifting. 

Author’s Amazon Bio

You may have read some of my novels writing as Judy Leigh, uplifting stories of the lives of older women and the possibility of second chances.

I’m so excited to introduce you to my dual timeline stories under the name of Elena Collins: the name is a tribute to my grandmother who was a teller of stories and fortunes and she had healing hands.

These new novels bring together three things I love: delving into history, exploring stunning locations and evoking the possibility of the supernatural. They are tales of people’s lives then and now, and there will be some spine-tingling moments.

I love writing, travelling, reading, music and theatre. I have an MA in Professional Writing. When I’m away from my desk and my three black cats, you’ll find me researching my next novel in some of this country’s most beautiful locations and beyond.

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