Noted historian, Tracy Borman, tried her hand at fiction, writing and publishing The King’s Witch, a first in a trilogy. It follows Frances Gorges, a natural herb healer, who tended Queen Elizabeth on her death bed. Now, in King James’ court, she is a marked woman for witchcraft. Her situation grows even more complicated when she meets the mysterious Tom Wintour, who has his own agenda. Can she trust him? Is he all that he seems?
I’ve never heard anyone talk about this book before. I only stumbled across it by chance when I was browsing the book aisle in my local Sainsbury’s. Something told me I couldn’t leave the shop without buying it, and I’m glad that I did, as it’s quickly become a new favourite of mine. It combines my love for historical fiction, the monarchy and witchery all into one.
I’ve never read any of Borman’s non-fiction, although I have Witches, a tale of Scandal, Sorcery and Seduction sitting on my shelves waiting to be read in preparation for my dissertation, but I’m eager to snap up all her other books. Being a historian has worked well in Borman’s favour, as she has managed to blend together a nice balance of history and fiction. It feels deeply authentic, both to the time period and to Borman herself. I’ve learnt a great deal from this book, but I’ve also had *such* a great time with it.
Of course, I must pay homage to the witch. Borman displayed how women, innocent women, were accused of witchcraft for the simplest of things, such as herb healing. Frances is what one would call a white witch or cunning-folk. She uses natural substances to heal. She is, essentially, a nurse. King James’ ideology, however, condemned her as a witch. Frances, thankfully, did not succumb to the patriarchy. It was frustrating to see how she was played like a puppet in the court, but she had a backbone, and it was riveting to see her assert her authority whenever possible.
I was fooled into believing that this would be solely about witches – the title doesn’t help much with that assumption. The first half followed Frances’ journey, from a healer to a lady and then back to a healer. We watched her navigate the court, trying to deflect any suspicion whilst trying to help others. The second half took me by complete surprise when it suddenly turned to the Gunpowder Plot. I thought I recognised Tom Wintour’s name from somewhere. I won’t say too much on it, because I think it’s better left unsaid, but the political intrigue and tense atmosphere really made the book so enjoyable.
All-in-all, I thought The King’s Witch was a true hidden gem. I’m so glad I found it whilst doing my weekly shop, otherwise I wouldn’t have a new favourite. It was a very sophisticated book, and took itself very seriously, which might not be to everyone’s taste, but that didn’t stop it being so compelling. It might be worth mentioning that I listened to this on audiobook, which definitely made the experience better, as the narrator was so lively. I couldn’t recommend it enough!
Have you read The King’s Witch? Does it sound like something you’d enjoy? If not, what’s your favourite witchy read? Let me know in the comments – I can add it to my TBR!
Thanks for reading, Lauren X
4 thoughts on “The King’s Witch: The Best Witchy Novel Yet?”
Great post 🙂
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I love witch stories yet I feel like I haven’t read many. I can’t think of any that would be a favorite besides Harry Potter and The Wizard of Oz. This book sounds like it might be something I’d like. Thanks for sharing!
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