I read Fletcher’s first novel, Eve Green about six years or so ago and really enjoyed it, plus I was intrigued by what I read on the blurb about the Glencoe massacre. This book was completely different to Eve Green, so kudos to Fletcher, she’s really developed as a writer and shows an impressive range. This story concerns Corrag, a young girl imprisoned as a witch, she is being questioned by a man who is investigating the Glencoe massacre but she will only tell him what she knows after she has told him her life’s story. To me, this conceit was far more effective than the one in Setterfield’s novel, although it was basically the same act, Corrag wanting her story to be heard before her death.
I was glad that Fletcher chose to alternate the narrative between Corrag and her interviewer’s letters to his wife because otherwise Corrag’s voice could have dragged and made the story a bit of a strain. Corrag’s part of the narrative is rich in its description and very powerful in its proposal that Corrag’s love of nature and humanity is her own experience of the divine. Corrag’s brave choice to love even though her mother had cautioned her against it really endeared her to me; she had grasped what those who persecuted her had not, which was that to love is an essential part of the human condition.
I really liked that Charles (the interviewer) came to appreciate her as the story went on, having begun with the view that she deserved to burn as a witch (this is not the kind of book with twists). Corrag’s experience of witchcraft also seemed to be plausible, knowing something but not what people thought she did. In a lot of ways, this book reminded me of Thirteen Moons, which is odd because plot-wise and character-wise, they couldn’t be more different but I think it’s the true love of nature and the lyrical prose that I loved about the first and also in this one too.
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Witch Light by Susan Fletcher
Published by HarperCollins UK on 2011
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