Publication Date: February 15th, 2022
Hardcover. 400 pages.
About The Great Witch of Brittany:
There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.
Ursule Orchière has been raised on stories of the great witches of the past. But the only magic she knows is the false spells her mother weaves over the gullible women who visit their fortune-telling caravan. Everything changes when Ursule comes of age and a spark of power flares to life. Thrilled to be chosen, she has no idea how magic will twist and shape her future.
Guided by an ancient grimoire and the whispers of her ancestors, Ursule is destined to walk the same path as the great witches of old. But first, the Orchière magical lineage must survive. And danger hovers over her, whether it’s the bloodlust of the mob or the flames of the pyre."
The Great Witch of Brittany follows Ursule Orchière, matriarch to a line of witches who we meet in Morgan’s first book, A Secret History of Witches. I loved having this opportunity to come complete the revolution of this family’s story and return to this line of witches and learn more about the original Ursule’s life in this prequel-like story. I hadn’t realized just how much I had missed Morgan’s writing and the Orchière witches until I picked up The Great Witch of Brittany and found myself immersed right back into this world.
This story is told almost entirely from Ursule’s singular POV, which I found surprisingly refreshing since I read so many multi-POV books, and we get to follow her along from childhood to adulthood over the course of the novel. I loved Ursule’s steady, insightful narration and appreciated getting to see her move throughout the different phases and obstacles of her life that gradually molded her into the woman she is by the end of the story. Interspersed occasionally within Ursule’s narrative were short folklore-type stories that added some background and insight into the witches that came before even Ursule, and I thought these stories did a wonderful job of showcasing the stories of these strong women that have come before Ursule and her descendants.
Morgan’s writing is smooth, flowing, and feels effortless as she dives into the mind of her protagonist and shares her life with us readers. There’s almost a lyrical quality to her work that makes it almost hypnotizing and hard to put down, and I think this is one of the reasons I find her work so engaging and magical. The pacing feels perfectly executed as well, with carefully placed time jumps throughout Ursule’s life that keep the story moving along without spending too much time in any one period of her life, as well as without jumping too far in any one direction that might otherwise leave readers feeling lost.
The Great Witch of Brittany is an understandably emotional book, both because it feels like we’re really connecting the stories of both this book and A Secret History of Witches, and because the women in these stories are truly inspirational and show impressive resolve to keep fighting and never fully turn their backs on who they are. There are so many additional characters we meet in this story that bring so much life and depth to the story, such as Madeleine and Remy, the raven Drom, Ursule’s mother Agnes, and some that have briefer roles in the story, but whose impact reverberates for years to come.
I adored this generational tale of Ursule that followed her relationship and journeys with her mother, the birth of her daughter, the births of her grandchildren, and her relationship with her own magic and development of her skills that will be passed on for generations to come. This is a beautiful, engrossing, heartbreaking, and all-around wonderful story that I am so glad I had an opportunity to read. Returning to this world and magic was the best comfort I could’ve had over these difficult past couple of months, and I still can’t wait so see what’s next from Louisa Morgan. I think I may need to go re-read A Secret History of Witches, now!
Overall, it’s 5 stars from me for The Great Witch of Brittany!
*I received a copy of The Great Witch of Brittany courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*