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Publisher's Summary

A sweeping historical saga that traces five generations of fiercely powerful mothers and daughters - witches whose magical inheritance is both a dangerous threat and an extraordinary gift.

Brittany, 1821. After Grand-mere Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her.

Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew. The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden.

But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever - not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history.

©2017 Louisa Morgan (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"At once sprawling and intimate, A Secret History of Witches deftly captures the greatest magic of all: the love between mothers and daughters." (Jordanna Max Brodsky, author of The Immortals)
"Epic relay race that gripped me from start to finish. Fiercely uncompromising and unsentimentally poignant, A Secret History of Witches will transfix you." (Michael Bishop)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Repetitive and Mostly Boring

I was really disappointed with this book. I kept waiting for something awesome to happen, but it was plodding and dull. There’s something missing that takes it from faux history to magic. After devouring Alice Hoffman’s recent ‘Practical Magic’ prequel, I was hoping to get pulled into another magical matriarchy. It’s a great idea but the execution is lackluster.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Such Beautiful Writing, Such Terrible Characters

I have never been so infuriated by a book.

The writing is gorgeous, evocative, and made the locations of Brittany, Cornwall and Wales come alive. The combination of these Celtic locations, combined with the story of hereditary witches, was impossibly seductive. Sadly, the reality did not stand up to the concept.

First of all, the title is totally misleading. This is not a Secret History of Witches. It is not a secret history of anything. The book lacks both history and magic. The sprinklings of witchcraft throughout are sparse and decidedly non-magical.

Also, there are major plot problems with this multi-generational story. We are repeatedly told that the craft will die out if there are no female children to pass it on to, but once a female child is born, they are left totally in the dark and told nothing about their heritage. In one episode of the story, we are supposed to believe that a smart, savvy teenage girl who has been raised by SIX women, all practitioners of witchcraft, and who is herself the last hope of the legacy, has absolutely no idea that this is happening in her family. It comes as a total shock to her when this is revealed on her birthday. And then she is a skeptic who is abusive to all six of her female caretakers, particularly her mother. Seriously. It is one of the many times when I almost gave up on this book (and should have).

But the biggest flaw is how utterly unlikeable some of these women are. I thought the young Ursule was the most terrible female character I had encountered in a long time - until I met her daughter Irene, who wins for Most Odious Female Character.

It is sad to me that an author can take such a beautiful concept as hereditary magic that exists in these ancient cultures and turn it into a mundane tool for the shallow and self serving.

I stayed with it against my better judgment because I wanted to see where it went, and for a few minutes near the end I really thought it might redeem itself. There is a nice twist during WWII that I wish had been a larger focus of the book. But the ending was a terrible wimper, a fizzle of an already dying ember. And so very un-magical.

I am sorry I wasted so much time on this story. And yet... she writes beautifully. Thus the frustration. It is a strange, literary conundrum.

On a high note, the narration is fantastic and I will look for other books performed by Polly Lee (who speaks lovely French). I do wish someone had told her how to pronounce Samhain, because the Irish in me cringed each time she said "Sam-Hane" but it wasn't her fault.

Listen to Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic instead.

33 of 35 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Outstanding!

Although its fiction, the story and exquisite performance makes the story about generations of witches believable and entertaining. I had a hard time not listening all the way through. A must listen! loved it!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fun white witch story

This story is told through the matriarchal line, going back 5 generations. I loved the mysticism, and magic. Not everyone from every generation was good. Their power is not always used in an altruistic, or even a moral fashion. But, the story held just the right elements to bring about a "witchy" story, without it being frightening, or one that leaves a "bad taste in your mouth".
The narrator did a fantastic job! She brought to life all the different characters, and I believe she did a fantastic job at creating the different nuances of all the main characters!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Pretty Good

I liked how long this book was, Im always looking for longer books. The book is a good read but strange. Its like a mini series more than one book. The reader does am amazing job though, it kept me interested

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best book I've read since A Discovery of Witches!

Thoroughly enjoyed this story. Only complaint is the mispronunciation of "samhain." Please correct this, it should be pronounced "sah-wen." Otherwise it was wonderful, definitely will revisit this story in the future!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Whoa

This book was phenomenol. Props go to voice actress for a stellar performance! I adored the line of witches and I found myself having very visceral reactions to all of them. I had a lot of love for all of them and was glad to see each witch in the line had a unique take on the craft. This was a totally different set up than I've seen in other witch books and I found myself loving it. Highly recommended

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed it!

I read some negative reviews and considered not finishing the book, but it continued to entertain me. I liked the second half of the book better than the first. It's very romantic. The narration was excellent.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cierra
  • Blacksburg, VA, United States
  • 11-28-17

Amazing narrator

Lovely story, amazing narrator, good character development. I enjoyed listening and I'm glad the magical/witchcraft element wasn't overdone or cliche.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Greeeaaat!!

The story is so good and captivating and amazing, though the plot devices are somewhat repetitive at times. I love everything about it except fking Irene. Get yourself a bottle of xanax before her book or youll lose ur entire shit.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful