17-year-old Anna and her Dad have left Notting Hill for the tiny coastal town of Winter, and Wicker House in particular.
Wicker House is everything you’d expect from a supernatural thriller: dark, creepy, home to hundreds of crows. Anna’s new Winter friends are both impressed and scared when she tells them she’s living in ‘The Witch’s House’. When the electricity fails during a Cava-fuelled sleepover, and Anna uses a bit of a strange old book she’s found to light the candle, before you can say Friday 13th the friends are holding hands in a circle and reciting a spell to bind an object of desire. Imagine Anna’s surprise when the very next day the school heartthrob Seth Waters ‘possibly the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen’ dumps his girlfriend for her!
This is just the beginning of Anna’s trials. As the reader has known from the beginning, Winter hides all sorts of secrets, and there’s more to Anna then she ever suspected too. By the end of the book she will have saved Seth’s life, led her side in a bloody battle between good and bad witches, died, come back to life and found true love.
If this makes the book sound like one of the many supernatural potboilers filling the bookshelves at the moment, it’s absolutely not. Author Ruth Warburton, who studied Old English and Middle English texts at University, has created a taut, engaging story full of genuine suspense that builds to a thrilling and satisfying climax. Anna is an engaging and entertaining heroine, with a nice line in caustic humour. The setting is spot on (Winter is based on the town of Lewes apparently) and there are lots of original touches amongst the supernatural – Seth uses a distress flare to put paid to a demon, you wouldn’t get that in Middle Earth! The scene is set for a sequel or two, and Warburton has cleverly seeded storylines to be developed in later books.
This is a very enjoyable read, and an impressive debut novel.