Reviews

Witherstone

I came across Witherstone through the review in Big Issue North and bought it on Kindle. I have had a long career involved with children’s literature (headteacher of three primary schools, English Adviser for East Riding of Yorkshire and, most recently, early reading consultant to DfE), so I hope I know what I am talking about when I say Witherstone is a really outstanding read – good old-fashioned storytelling, in the very best sense; engaging and gripping as only the most skilfull writing can be. A massive well done – and thank you. Like, I suspect many who have already read, and many more who will read the book, I was devastated to discover at the end that it was only Part I. Whilst it is a great joy to think there is more to come, the frustration is also considerable. Please press on apace.

Gordon Askew

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5* out of 5 stars:

This is a brilliant read which drew me in and kept me hooked from start to finish. The story is told through the eyes of Eppie as she struggles to save her family from an unknown enemy. The story is full of convincing historical detail and I found myself transported back to a seventeenth century England immersed in superstition, magic and dark political forces. I don’t usually read books which include superstition and witchcraft but this is a story about real life struggle. The plot is gripping and the narrative carries the story with pace, creating a feeling of deep unease as Eppie uncovers the truth…..I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Chris Caretaker, Amazon reviewer.

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“loved this … It’s an enormously tense story … knowing there are more I’m gagging to see what happens next!”

Sian, Manchester.

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5* out of 5 stars:

I absolutely loved Witherstone; very well written, with good depth of characters. The heroine is very likeable and realistic, and the plot is really mysterious and believable – resulting in a huge amount of anticipation.
It’s genuinely ‘unputdownable’, and was still circling through my mind long after I’d finished. Don’t be put off by the slow-ish beginning – it only builds up suspense before the multiple climaxes later in the book, and gives the characters more detail. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone – it’s a fantastic book, and well worth the buy 🙂

Scraggle Hag, Amazon reviewer.

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5* out of 5 stars:

“- a gripping read! It has an excellent plot teeming with excitement and is very well researched. I was sorry to come to the end and look forward eagerly to the next installment!”

Limoncello, Amazon reviewer.

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‘…This was a period when society was obsessed with the idea of witchcraft, and Brunning weaves in a sense of the paranormal … the family are portrayed as likeable and believable characters, keeping the tale anchored in a sense of reality. Subtle political themes counteract the extraordinary and add historical context. … the book develops a tense and complicated plot with an exciting climax. … and readers will undoubtedly be itching to find out what happens next.”

The Big Issue in the North.

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Waterstones, Preston

‘the first book in the trilogy and it grips you from the start. Witchcraft and mystery are at the heart of this tale – its characters are well defined and the storyline well thought out. Such a cliff hanger ending!!’

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5* out of 5 stars Spellbinding, 14 Nov 2012
This review is from: Witherstone (Paperback)

Although there are some hints of things to come at the beginning of Witherstone you aren’t hurtled into the action with the same immediacy as many other books aimed at a young adult readership. This makes for a slower start but one that is far from boring. Rather it lends itself to a much greater immersion in the characters and their lives so that as events unfold the stakes feel much higher. The magic in the book is earthy and real, sprung from the harshness of the lives the characters lead and their closer association with nature. I loved the descriptions of the old witch in her cave feeding spiders to Master Nalgah, her crow – a brilliant creation himself. The atmosphere and sense of place is incredibly vivid and I found that, more than any book I’ve read recently, this one remained with me long after I’d finished it. I’m just about to start the next installment and can’t wait!

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5* out of 5 stars:

I really enjoyed reading this book, which I started on a long train journey. I was finished by the end of the trip – I could not stop reading it! 

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5* out of 5 stars:

‘There is so much to love about this book, I hardly know where to begin.
Yes, a well-crafted plot, an exciting story and a vulnerable yet brave heroine we can readily identify with make this an unputdownable adventure story. But for me it was the quality of the writing that made this novel more than just a heart-thumping good read. There are descriptions of nature that give a wonderful sense of immediacy. There are the tiny details of everyday life that put you right there in seventeenth century England. The author clearly knows the period well, from politics and religion to folk-belief and food, but none of this is laboured. JA is too subtle an author to foreground her research at the expense of the story.
But for me what lingers of the book is the extraordinary and seemingly effortless evocation of family life. The unspoken love that binds a family together through unbearable hardship and unspeakable fear makes this more than a historical novel. It makes it a book for all times and places.
Having read the book myself, I bought it for a teenage friend and continue to recommend it heartily to everyone who will listen. Am I becoming a Witherstone bore?’

By T. Stoker (Greece)See all my reviews

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Not boring me! Fab reviews such as this are what keeps me going! x
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The Hunt Begins
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5* out of 5 stars Non-Stop Action 19 Sep 2012
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This book continues where Witherstone left off. Eppie is confronted by the power and ruthlessness of the Sylvestres, a family who make the death eaters in Harry Potter seem restrained. Despite her young age and her poverty, Eppie untangles old secrets and dark crimes in her quest to save a grandmother indicted for witchcraft in the vengeful days following the restoration of the monarchy. Who are her real friends? Can she win justice for her Granma in such a corrupt and superstitious time?
You really need to read ‘Witherstone’ first to be up to speed with all the characters but I guarantee two things: firstly that once you’ve read Witherstone you’ll be desperate to read this book, secondly that when you do. you won’t be disappointed, if anything the peril gets greater, the action more exciting and the plot twists more tangled and unexpected.
Write part 3 quickly please Ms Brunning!
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5* out of 5 stars What an exciting read! 10 Feb 2013
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I’d been looking forward to the sequel to Witherstone and to reading about Eppie’s adventures and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, The Hunt Begins surpassed my expectations. The story was gripping and once again the characters were vivid, as were the description of the settings (the hall, the cottages, Hawbury). Well done, J A Brunning! I look forward to book number 3 .
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5* out of 5 stars Thoroughly Good Read 18 Jan 2013

I was waiting eagerly for the second instalment in the Witherstone trilogy and I was not disappointed. The book carried me along in a whirlwind of action and adventure with twists and turns along the way. Who can Eppie trust? I am finding myself doubting everyone’s actions and wanting to warn her not to be too trusting. Sometimes when you have enjoyed the first book in a series, subsequent books can find it hard to keep up the pace. This is not true of The Hunt Begins and I am eagerly awaiting book 3.
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‘Brunning does it again!  Darker than the first … full of suspense … Loved it!’ 
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