Friday, February 20, 2015
The Witch's Daughter, Paula Brackston
3.5 out of 5 stars
I had had this book on my "to read" list for awhile. So long that I can no longer remember who recommended it or why I felt compelled to add it to my list.
So....things I didn't like: explicit sexual content. It wasn't excessive by any means, but what WAS there was highly disturbing; a couple rape scenes and a devil worship turned orgasmic scene. I almost stopped reading after the latter scene, but kept going. I am glad I did.
Things I liked: the notion that even if you find yourself in the context of something typically evil, you can choose to be good and do good. You don't have to be a slave to your title or the box you've been put in.
It also covers post black plague witch hunts. When people are hurt, they seek to lay blame and innocent women lost their lives. This is a fact of history. It also gave me a better understanding of what people who are Wiccan might believe or how they choose to do what they do.
Being LDS, we do not condone the practice of witchcraft (or wiccan ways). I think this is because we believe that true healing power comes from God in the form of His Holy Priesthood and any mimicry of it is of the devil. Yes, the devil CAN give power to do things that appear good, but his ultimatum is to imitate God to the point where people will reject God. One example being Moses in the Old Testament and the 10 plagues on Egypt leading up to the release of the Isrealite people. The Egyptian magicians and sorcerers were able to replicate the first few miracles that Moses did (rod to serpant, water to blood, and frogs, I believe). But that was the extent of their abilities. So in short, religiously, I don't support the use of pagan magic even if the intent is good, because I feel that should be God's right and privilege.
On a strictly entertainment point, however, I do like the perspective that Bess, who felt like her only out was a certain direction was at one end evil would choose to use her powers only for good and for healing. I do like the distinction between being an herbalist and being a witch, that just knowing how to mix herbs, oils, and use plants for healing does NOT make you a witch or anything close to evil. That stuff isn't magic. In fact, I believe that is using what God has placed on the Earth and our knowledge to our benefit. (Although I wouldn't consider myself a naturalist or anything. I personally use a combination of modern medicine and natural remedies, whichever I feel intuitively is needed for any given situation).
In some ways, it even felt reminiscent of The Book Thief in that Bess, as an immortal witch witnessing a war marvels on man's ability to inflict pain and death on man is the same as the perspective Death has in The Book Thief. And the concept that death is not always a bad thing. Also, one LDS belief is that death is a necessary part of our eternal progression, we are spirit beings, we come to earth, gain a physical body, have the two separated by death and the later reunited through resurrection. A lesson I also learned from Tuck Everlasting, that sometimes death is definitely NOT the worst thing that could happen.