I’ve long been a fan of Eloise Williams’s writing from the irresistibly gothic, ‘Gaslight,’ to the haunting and heart-breaking, ‘Seaglass,’ she has a natural gift for storytelling creating tales that really capture your imagination. So I was intrigued to read her latest book, ‘Wilde,’ which brings a century’s old witch’s curse to a modern welsh town, Witch Point. A place renowned for it’s dark and mysterious past, a place where Wilde’s parents used to call home. Forced to return to Witch Point, Wilde feels a sense of unease. All of the unexplained things that have been bubbling underneath the surface, are starting to become more obvious to Wilde as if something is being unleashed inside her. She can no longer ignore these strange occurrences. However, Wilde is determined to supress these feelings, she just wants to be normal and fit in at her new school but fate has cast it’s hand against her. When rehearsals start on a play based on the tale of a local witch, pupils at her school become unsettled when they receive curses from someone claiming to be the witch. Can Wilde find a way to stay in control and discover the true identity of the ‘witch’,’ before she is ostracised once more?
I love how this story weaves together the true life persecution of so called ‘witches,’ – and how they were maligned by the world for trying to use their skills for the good of others – with a slice of magical realism as Wilde slowly uncovers the truth about herself. This could easily become a tale of dark magic and unnatural events but Eloise’s cleverly parallels Wilde’s experience of coming to terms with who she really is and finding her place in the world with other children who feel on the outside for many different reasons. We see how easily it is for our thoughts and feelings to be influenced by other’s prejudices and realise how it takes extreme courage to stand up for those we believe in when everyone else around you is against them. There are some darker elements in this story as Wilde struggles to control her powers, making for a tense and dramatic story. A compelling a thoughtful tale of loss, friendship and courage that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Thank you to Firefly Press for this gifted proof copy. ‘Wilde,’ is available to buy now online or from you local bookshop. Please support your local indie bookseller if at all possible.