Friday, 16 May 2014

10 Books That Changed Me | Witch Child by Celia Rees

Continuing with the history theme from last month, this month I'm going to talk to you about Celia Rees's Witch Child.

I first read Witch Child when I was around 12/13 years old, and I can still remember picking it out from amongst the other books on the shelves when I saw it. There's something so haunting and enticing about the photograph on the cover that immediately drew me in.

I don't think I purchased it the first time I saw it, but each time I went into the book shop I kept making eye contact with this book, and I kept picking it up and reading the blurb and feeling the weight of it in my hands.

It wasn't just the physical book that interested me, but the story inside. As I've mentioned many times before I've always loved history, but I never really read that much historical fiction, and I think that's because, when I was younger at least, there weren't many pieces of historical fiction out there for younger readers. I'm sure there were, I just couldn't find them; when I was younger the Teen section wasn't full of all the fun, dark YA reads we have now, it was full of pink books about pretty teenagers who had spots and wanted boyfriends.

I'm not at all trying to shame people who enjoy reading those kinds of books - the contemporary romance books of today - they just weren't what I was interested in. I never grew out of my love for history and fantasy and horror. I didn't want to grow up and read about people in the real world; the real world was the place I was trying to escape from.

Eventually my parents bought me a copy of Witch Child and I adored it. In fact I'm pretty sure I reread it several times because one time just wasn't enough. Like the book I mentioned last month, this book made history approachable for me and other people my age, not by making history gruesome but by helping me to see history through the eyes of another teenage girl. Historical fiction became something I could access, too, it wasn't just for adults.

This is the book that first got me into historical fiction; in fact I think its influence on me is obvious even now, given that I'm currently working on a historical fiction novel that deals with the subject of witchcraft!

I'm 22 now, and I still recommend this book to other people. If I ever have a daughter of my own I'm going to encourage her to read it, too.

Which book do you remember most from your early teens?


  1. I read Witch Child and the continuation in my mid teens and really enjoyed them.

    John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began is something that really sticks out in my mind. I started the series when I was around 13. Last year I re-read them, and they're every bit as engaging as they were back then.

    1. I read a lot of Celia Rees when I was younger - I think I read Pirates! before I read Witch Child, which I loved, and I read Sorceress, too. I definitely enjoyed Witch Child more than its sequel, though.

      I've heard of that series but I haven't read them; I think I only heard about them for the first time a year or so ago. I'll have to check them out! Some of the books I remember most from my early teens are Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses series. Noughts and Crosses is still one of my all time favourite books.