Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sorceress by Celia Rees

Celia Rees
Reviewer: Ari
Rating: 4/5

IQ "On their own they [wampum beads] fall and scatter. Put them together, though, and you've got something else. Together they make up something big. Together they preserve the words. This is how I figure it: you, me, Mary, the people in her life, the folk Alison has found out about, Alison herself-we're like the beads on this belt. Look at us apart and you can't tell a lot. But put us together and then you can read the whole story." Aunt M pg. 310

Sorceress is the sequel to Witch Child by Celia Rees and I recommend that you read Witch Child first to really understand what's going on, I may review it later on (after I get through my mountainous tbr pile). Agnes Herne, also known as Karonhisake (Searching Sky) attends college in Boston. She reads a book about Mary Newbury (the main character of Witch Child, an orphaned girl who comes to America and lives with the Puritans. She is forced to flee her home when people begin to suspect she's a witch. Mary does not deny it) and believes she may be related to her, since it is thought that Mary lived with a Native American tribe for much of her life. Agnes is of Mohawk descent and her Aunt M has told her stories about an unnamed young woman who sounds a lot like Mary Newbury and Aunt M has a box containing personal artifacts that may have belonged to Mary.

I don't want to spoil the book too much for those who haven't read Witch Child yet. I really enjoyed Sorceress. Agnes is essentially 'possessed' by Mary Newbury. She sees events through Mary's eyes. Mary lives in the time leading up to King Phillip's War and after the war. King Philip was the English name for a powerful Wampanoag chief who was the leader of the Native Americans fighting against the English (read here for more information). Since I love history, I really liked reading a more personal perspective on King Philip's War. It was an appealing read, especially when I learned that not all Native Americans wanted to fight the English, even though the English were stealing their land. I also really enjoyed reading about the powers Mary and Agnes have. I don't know anything about shamans and I thought it added an intriguing element to the story.

I would have liked to see more character development of Agnes. I understand that this was Mary's story, but if that's the case I don't really think Agnes should be mentioned. Her part was interesting, but I didn't get to know her at all. All I know is that she's shy, a Mohawk and has medicine power. Same thing with all the other characters; Sim, Aunt M, Alison. The book is relatively a long read and it's not all that quick, there were some parts that weren't boring, but a bit slow to unravel. So adding more details about the characters would have lengthened the book a bit, but I think it's necessary, since I think the characters all have interesting stories. The ending was satisfying and I liked how it's written in a historical format called Background Notes, that includes interviews and diary accounts.

I didn't find any reviews that named Sorceress as a books that is disrespectful to Mohawk/native American culture. I think it did a pretty good job, especially because Aunt M rallies against white people who put precious Native American artifacts (like wampum belts) in museums and don't take care of them. The book provided good insight into why some Native Americans don't want their history and belongings being displayed in museums. It's clear Celia Rees did her research, even though she lives in England, she mentions in her Acknoweldgements that she visited America a few times and talked to Mohawks and historians of Iroquois tribes (the larger umbrella Mohawk falls under, there are six Iroquois nations). A good historical fiction read with an element of supernatural/fantasy. I especially recommend this book to fans of Witch Child, it's a good sequel. 8th grade and up.
Ari says she's sarcastic, caring, slightly crazy teenager. She loves to read, listen to music, dance and have fun. She's been reading seriously since second grade. Proud to be black. Ari is one of Color Online's CORA Girls. They rock. Check out her blog, Reading In Color.


tanita davis said...

Oh, didn't realize this was a sequel!! I read Witch Child awhile back!

tanita davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Demon Hunter said...

This sounds interesting. Never heard of either book. Thanks for sharing. :-D

Jessie Carty said...

i've heard a few different people talk about Witch Child. Really need to get around to reading it!

MissAttitude said...

Witch Child is good and it was interesting reading about life for the Pilgrims from the eyes of an outisder. I liked Sorceress better though, it talks about a war that is not very well known, King Philip's War.